Do I Need Outside Sources?

Studying the original alone may be enough for purposes of your response, or you may need to draw upon outside or additional sources to provide the context and the contrast that you need for your analysis. The answer to the question depends upon many factors, including, perhaps most importantly, the expectations of your teacher for this assignment.

It is always appropriate to ask yourself what you know about a topic, activating your schema, your storehouse of accumulated knowledge, perhaps even personal experience with the topic if you have any. Then you ask yourself how the text you're studying challenges your experience, your expectations, your additional sources, your understanding because you're hoping to do something beyond mere reporting. Having found these challenges, these distinguishing features, distinctions, or areas of debate, you have also found the area(s) most promising for a response from you. For here, where you notice either surprise, contrast, movement into new space, or tension, lies the material waiting for a response from you, a response that is authentically yours. And now you get a sense of why response can be a creative and original act, which is not in any way to suggest that creativity and originality cannot also be collaboratively derived. The next step is to mine your response for an inferential thesis that will guide your formal, written response.

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