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Reading in the Disciplines: Religion


"Even a person with the best sense of direction needs a roadmap from time to time..." Kevin O'Neil

Tips from Fellow Students

Senior Jennifer DiPersio shares some of her strategies:

When reading an academic paper, I start off by reading the beginning and ending of the paper. Typically, scholars begin the first few paragraphs by introducing their topic and argument, and end by summarizing their work. I find that the ending of papers often have a clearer and more concise summary, and help me better understand the bulk of their writing.  


Another important strategy I use, when possible, is to read the printed copies of the paper. I find reading papers online is a bit more difficult because I am easily distracted by Facebook, etc. This also allows me to engage with the paper by writing in the margins any questions/critiques I have, highlight/underline important parts of the paper, and highlight/underline words or concepts I don't understand. I find that when I react while reading the paper, I have a better understanding of the paper a few days later in class because I can refer back to the paper to see my thought process while reading.



From "A Method for Reading Church Documents in Moral Theology"

"What do I mean by "a critical reading" of a text?... To read a document critically means to read for understanding, to read with a questioning mind, looking for the documents structure, noting the strengths, and attending to questions that pop into our minds."

Considerations When Approaching a Text

1. What is the context of the document? What was the text written in response to?

2. What is the nature of the document and the level of authority with which it is proposed?

3. Focus on person's authentic human good in Catholic moral teaching.

6 Points to consider

  1. Values
  2. The logic or reasoning process of the document
  3. Conclusions
  4. Pastoral dimensions of the document
  5. Strengths of the teaching
  6. Ongoing questions that arise in the mind of the reader. 


A Method for Reading Church Documents in Moral Theology

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