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ENGL 102 University of Maryland Does Reading Make us Better People Article Discussion

ENGL 102 University of Maryland Does Reading Make us Better People Article Discussion

Question Description

Assignment Overview

For this paper, choose a different story from our Week 2 assignment. It should be different from the story you wrote about for Paper 1.

Then, consider the following question: What does this story have to teach us about empathy for others?

The article “Does Reading Fiction Make Us Better People?” examines the idea that reading fiction enhances our compassion and empathy—that is, our ability to identify with other people’s experiences and relate to what they feel and think in their “interior lives” (Hammond). An interior life refers to the thoughts and feelings that aren’t always shared publicly. In literature, the narrator usually has access to these thoughts and feelings that aren’t said aloud.

In responding to this question, your focus will be on the themes that arise from your close readings of the story. You will develop an argument on what the story teaches us about empathy and how it is conveyed. It is helpful to ask:

  • Which characters does the author want you, the reader, to empathize with?
  • Are there any characters that you dislike, but still empathize with? Why do you think that is?

In addition, you will use evidence from at least one of the following articles to support your argument:

Schmidt, Megan. “How Reading Fiction Increases Empathy and Encourages Understanding.” Discover Magazine. 28 Aug. 2020.

Hammond, Claudia. “Does Reading Fictions Make Us Better People?” BBC. 2 June 2019.

Castano, Emanuele and David Kidd. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.” Science. 18 Oct. 2013; 342 (6156): 377-80.

Coleman, John. “The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals.” Harvard Business Review, 2012.

Thorpe, J.R. “Why Reading Poetry Is Good For Your Brain.” Bustle, 20 Apr. 2017.

Most of the articles in this list were referenced in the Week 1 Insights (see above). You should also refer to “Week 6 Insights: Integrating Sources Using Your Own Voice” for guidance on working with your chosen article.


For Paper 2, your analysis of the story’s theme will focus on how your reading of the primary source (the story) and secondary sources (the article) cause you to think about empathy.

Sample thesis structure:

[Story X] helps us to understand [theme/issue Y] by promoting empathy through [warrant 1], [warrant 2], and [warrant 3]

Sample thesis statement:

The conflicts between male and female characters in Susan Glaspell’s story “A Jury of Her Peers” helps readers have more empathy for the oppression of women through its depiction of Mrs. Wright’s marriage, the women’s roles, and the inequality between men and women in the story.


Refer to the work you did and feedback you received from Paper 1. The outline is a straightforward way of listing and organizing the ideas connected to your claim and three warrants for your five-paragraph essay.? Next, you will convert the bulleted items from your outline into well-crafted sentences, and then combine those sentences into well-organized, logical paragraphs.?

The paper will have three to four body paragraphs, each one led by a topic sentence that includes the explicit warrant. The rest of the paragraph will contain statements with the supporting evidence from both the story and the article.

The essay will be structured as follows:

  1. Introduction:
    1. Create a context for the thesis by explaining the BBC article (two to three sentences). (Cite in the text.)
    2. Provide a brief overview of the story (2 to 3 sentences)
    3. State the thesis: [Story X] helps us to understand [theme/issue Y] by promoting empathy through [warrant 1], [warrant 2], and [warrant 3]
  2. Body paragraph #1: Warrant 1
    1. Supporting evidence from story
    2. Analysis: How does the story help us understand the concern?
  3. Body paragraph #2: Warrant 2
    1. Supporting evidence from story
    2. Analysis: How does the story help us understand the issue?
  4. Body paragraph #3: Warrant 3
    1. Supporting evidence from story
    2. Analysis: How does the story help us understand the issue?
  5. Conclusion
    1. Return to the thesis
    2. Reflect on the connection between the article and the story. What have we learned from your analysis? Does fiction really promote empathy?

Hints:?Remember that your reader has read the story and is familiar with it; your audience is your peers. But you want to convince them to consider your side.

Summary vs. Analysis:?Be aware that a paper analyzing a piece of literature is not a plot summary.? Summary should provide only brief details necessary to identify parts of the story required to develop the paper.??

Length and Format:?

  • Five-paragraph literary analysis paper??
  • 1000–1200?words for the paper (approximately?3–4 pages, double-spaced)??
  • MLA style for document format. See this?MLA Style Demo video?for how to set up your document.??

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