Reading Reflections

For each assigned reading, you will complete a short reading reflection (200-400 words). This should summarize and critique the main points of the text, as well as draw connections to other texts and ideas introduced through this course. This will assemble an ‘annotated bibliography’ by the end of the semester.

This is a guide to how you should approach the reflections for each reading. The most important thing is to remember they are high-level, consise and brief. They don’t need to cover all the points exhaustively, just the major ones. It should typically be around 200-300 words, and at most 400 words.

What an annotated bibliography is

A series of close (critical) readings that develop into an organized list of resources that you have reviewed on a particular topic. Each reading is accompanied with a paragraph that explains or evaluates its key ideas in terms of quality and relevance. It is designed to help structure a review of literature so that you don’t need to re-read a text every time you want to refer back to it later. A very detailed explanation is available at: but below are some main points.

Each ‘annotation’ of the text should provide

What an annotated bibliography is not

Simply put:

It’s a littke more than a short summary; it highlights the main points and critically reviews the usefulness of the text and the ideas it contains.

Preparing an annotated bibliography / reading reflections

Questions to Ask while Reading

Questions to ask after reading

Writing an annotated bibliography

DOs and DON’T


Below are two examples of annotated bibliographies for the same text.

Example 1

The Medium is the Massage

The reading discusses the effect media, the mode by which we communicate, have on the society. The media shape how we think and pushes social and cultural changes by changing the “ratio of sense perception.” (41) We are at a transition from mechanization to electric technology. As a result, many things need to, and have to adapt. We need to balance privacy with a desire to know. We need to adapt to the “instantaneous electric information retrieval” in contrast with the “older, traditional ideas of private, isolated thoughts and actions.” (12) The influence of the massive amount of information is more influential to children than parents. The world becomes smaller, and we care about more people than ever. Children are placed in the structured classrooms characteristic of the previous medium that contrasts with the continuous information inflation of today’s medium. Jobs become less fragmented. Politics have come into our living rooms. Media is so pervasive that “they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered.” (26) The alphabet, made of meaningless fragments, encourages us to organize the environment in uniform and connected space and time in visual and spatial space. The current medium, however, loses time and space and becomes simultaneous. We can no longer perceive the world a fragment at a time; we need to use “multiple models for exploration.” (69) Like the ears, we perceive the world of information simultaneously. The discord between the youth’s world with technology and his structured education demands a push for discovery from instructions in education. Youths want to be fully involved, not fragmented goals. We are biased to what we see. The invention of printing also brought about the idea of intellectual property, but new technologies value teamwork over individual expression. Television is different from print media in that it engages the viewers and “demands different sensory responses.” (128) It is difficult for us to recognize that new media are not downgrades from older media such as printing or writing, but are really different ways for us to perceive the world.

Example 2

McLuhan, Marshall, The Medium Is the Massage