NO OUTSIDE SOURCES only use the pdf provided and follow the rubric thoroughly.
GUIDELINES FOR YOUR READING NOTES
Reading notes, regardless of the context or genre of the material you are reading, are always extremely
useful for your critical engagement with a given reading, whether the document you are reading is a
scholarly article or book chapter, whether it is a creative work of literature or a primary historical
source, or whether it is a business document (such as a student loan agreement :)).
Your reading notes, for the purposes of our class, should reflect your own critical reading of a given
article or chapter, as well as your own critical thinking about it and your own critical take-aways from it.
Most of the readings that we will be doing for our course are written in a social science/ humanities
vein. This means they will require an eye for the key arguments the scholar/ author has made, for the
sources of the data they have presented, and for getting a sense of the historical moment and cultural
context when they actually published the reading. You will also want to try to assess what the scholar’s
own goals might be have been for the piece they wrote. It’s also productive to try to assess what is at
stake within their particular disciplinary framework, or for the world in general, with respect to what
they have presented the reader in the reading.
Here are some pragmatic strategies for doing a close reading of an article or book chapter through your
1) Generally, it is useful to read a text more than once. For our class, I recommend that you do one
thorough/ systematic reading where you take the bulk of you notes, and then go back and do a
quick skim over the reading to revisit the overall pattern of how the scholar/ author has
organized and composed the reading.
2) Take a look at the “Five Methods of Notetaking” handout for a sense of five different strategies
for approaching notetaking. Experiment with these different strategies until you figure out the
approach (or combination of approaches) that works best for you.
3) At the top of your notes, write out the author’s name, the title of the article or book chapter,
and its date of publication.
4) As you do your systematic reading, get the gist of the main themes, theses, and/ or arguments
that the scholar/ author is making and keep track of these—e.g., either via highlighting them
within your notes, or via using key words that you put in a side column alongside your notes.
5) Watch for recurring words or concepts that cue you in to the particular disciplinary/ theoretical
narrative framework that the scholar/ author is using.
6) Watch for indications on the types of data and the disciplinary methodologies that the scholar/
author is relying upon to make their arguments (e.g., textual analysis, primary or secondary
historical documents, primary or secondary ethnographically-based research, media analysis,
7) Write down any questions that come up for you as you read the text (either in-text highlighting
or a side column is good for these as well), and then identify any answers to these questions if
and where they might come up in the text later.
8) Write down your own emotional and other critical reactions as you read through the text; you
can also develop your own system of emojis:). (E.g., asterisks for key points; ! for surprise; lol or
; a heart for something you love, etc.)
9) Be attentive to any kind of recurring metaphors or imagery that the scholar/ author is using.
10) Write out any striking quotes from the text and be sure to cite the appropriate page number.
Once you finish the reading, do a quick reflection for yourself on the key problems or issues that the
scholar/author has addressed, on what the author’s own purpose/ goals/ agenda was in writing the
article or book chapter at the historical moment that they wrote it, and on what the implications are for
the author’s findings and key arguments—in other words, on what is a stake for the contributions of
their article or book chapter. Also reflect on how reading the article or book chapter resonates with you:
what perspectives does it give you that you might not have had previously? Did you feel that the
scholar/ author provided convincing arguments and analyses based on the data their work engaged?
Were there any questions that you felt were unanswered or not addressed? What did you particularly
like or dislike about the reading—and why? Jot down your reflections at the end of your notes!
When you can, try to get a sense of the scholar/ author’s background, how this research piece fits into
their overall scholarly work, and how their own positionality (especially nation-state, generation,
theoretical/ disciplinary training, etc.) might have shaped their work. Many scholars also have web-
accessible or published statements concerning other positionality factors that have shaped their
scholarship (e.g., life experiences in general, and/ or their own gender/ sexuality, race/ ethnicity, class
background, disability, etc. statuses).
So, all this may seem like a lot! But this critical reading/ thinking/ notetaking strategy should become
second nature to you once you have done it a couple/few times. You should not have to spend more
than two hours per reading for notetaking.
Note you do not need to take exhaustively detailed notes—for the purposes of our class, focus on the
main ideas and on the points most interesting to you. You should, however, be systematic, so that you
do cover the main ideas for each subsection of the readings. And do be mindful of/ note down the
particulars or historical, geographical, and social context for any specific arguments made by the author.
Most folks use phrases rather than narrative sentences for their notetaking, but you should use
whatever style works best for you. Ultimately, these notes are for your own critical engagement
process, so, within the parameters outlined above, they should reflect the strategy that works best for
your own critical thinking process! And you will want to refer back to your reading notes to inform your
posts for our regular Discussions.
It is fine to either hand-write or to type up your reading notes! If you do choose to hand-write your
notes, though, please do make sure your handwriting is legible :).
With respect to grading, each reading note assignment can potentially earn up to 100 points. Please
refer to the posted rubric for a breakdown of how points are assessed.