How To: Write a Reading Response Without Doing the Reading


Perhaps the most important skill a college student will acquire in their four years of higher learning is the ability to accomplish large amounts of work in a thorough and timely fashion effectively convey an air of confidence and opinion about work they have not done. This ability is tested each time said student arrives at class un-prepared, but is never as threatened as by reading responses typically required for small, weekly seminars.  Here, a senior who has very legitimately not had time to do the 900 pages of reading assigned to him as a result of his active job search and binge-drinking, is asked to review and engage with this reading all on his own. Of course, this senior is a senior and has had three years to cultivate his own unique style of response, which flies subtly under the radar while still appearing substantiated. For those who need a little more help, here goes:

1. Don’t be a hero. Your response doesn’t need to be the longest on Canvas. You haven’t done the reading so every claim you make is tenuous, and has the potential to betray your web of lies. Keep it short, and keep it simple. Medium-length responses display the confidence of someone who has, in fact, done the reading and has nothing to prove, without the arrogance of someone who actually enjoyed the work and has something to say. This is your sweet spot.

2. Start with a clarification/question. Another way of demonstrating a level of confidence that can only be associated with someone who has, in fact, done the reading, is to admit that you did not understand something about the text. This will make you seem grounded, secure in your own intelligence, and, most importantly, like you have done the reading. Ex. “I found Smith’s piece about Houston slightly inaccessible as someone who has never been to Texas. His references, I felt, relied on knowledge of southern architecture and climate, without which I lacked context.”


3. Pull quotes. Obviously you need to fill up space somehow and there is no better way than by directly quoting the text itself. Any time spent word-for-word citing the author is time not spent making assertions that may turn out to be embarrassingly incorrect. Of course, too much textual citation will instantly raise suspicion so be wary of going overboard. Additionally, make sure your quotes are from varying texts and portions of text. Quoting only the first two pages of a 200-page essay is a rookie mistake, and everyone in the class will laugh at you behind your back and volunteer you first for their next ritual sacrifice. One final quoting strategy is two pull two quotes from separate texts and open a dialogue about their similarities and differences. Ex. “So when Smith says Houston is hot, and Bensinger mentions that J. Edgar Hoover was ‘cold’ how can we look at weather in these distinct pieces as a common thread in this week’s discussion of gender?”

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Sextion: Embracing the hand job


Something truly shocking happened to me this weekend. I was in bed with my new phe, enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning make-out sesh, when phe asked me for something I was totally unprepared for: a hand job. I was dumbfounded. What were we, in tenth grade? Not only had I not given a hand job in literal years, I had been repeatedly told by friends/partners/Cosmopolitan magazine that receiving a hand job is completely unenjoyable for someone who has perfected the art themselves. Panicking at the thought of failure (as many Brown students do), I made a joke about something else and changed the subject.

Why was I so much more willing to give a blow job or do something kinky than give a good old-fashioned hand job? Back in the day (whenever that is for you), a hand job was a big deal that warranted hours of discussion with friends. Techniques, reactions, and personal emotions were matters that really needed to parsed apart. Now, brief handplay may be included in foreplay, but it is no longer the main event.

Which is why, when asked for a hand job, I totally freaked. After some introspection, however, I realized how ridiculous I was being. It’s not like phe was asking me to do something totally insane that I was unprepared for. I’m all about someone using their hands to pleasure me (more on that soon), so why wouldn’t I want to do this simple thing to make my phe feel good?

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How to: Halloweek with work

It is a tragic reality that many of us face: major assignments due during Halloweek. Hard as it is to believe, there are papers, tests, thesis chapters, midterms, problems, and/or presentations, due or occurring this week: the (second?) most beloved week of our student body. It’s questionable what’s worse: a major grade-defining paper due Thursday, aka the day after the WEDNESDAY of Halloweek, or an equally major midterm on Friday, aka the day after ACTUAL HALLOWEEN. Things due next Monday are of a similar (though in my opinion, preferable) situation. The question isn’t “can we still go out?” It’s how are we going to make it happen?


Hallo-Whisko is non-negotiabe.

Tips on making it happen after the jump:

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