Responding

The Inferential Thesis

To give a response is a way of talking back to a text-and remember a text can be any number of things, even an experience you've had which can be "read" or interpreted and reinterpreted through response. Notice the use of the phrase "talking back." Think of the response as a way of conversing, of engaging in dialogue, but think also of the slightly rebellious possibilities of talking back to someone. When you "talk back" there is an element of challenge, of healthy questioning, of constructive criticism. Something is out there, a text of some sort, and then there is a long pause, the silence that anticipates a response. The response you give will no doubt be expressive but probably it also will be persuasive. It should reflect what you know or have learned about a topic. It will take the conversation forward, not simply repeat what has already been said in the text itself. It will involve some risk, not mere ratification. It will question boundaries and will suggest a position, or what is sometimes called a "critical stance" or "critical position."

That is why a critical stance or position is the written demonstration of critical thinking, the goal of which is new intellectual territory. When you think critically you view a text in its entirety. You see the text via its parts, but you ask how it all adds up. The result is a thorough examination that captures the essence of the text and responds to it, resulting in a whole new shaping of the topic.

Sometimes in the early stages of developing an inferential thesis we may call it a working message. That sends the message that we're working on it, attempting in our drafts to state clearly and simply the position we're taking in our response and why we are taking it.

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Introduction