Your first paper will be a critical summary.
Choose one of the assigned readings that we haven’t discussed in class by the time the first paper is due. Summarize the author’s main thesis and the main arguments the author offers in support of that thesis, and then offer a critical discussion of the author’s position. Roughly half your paper should be devoted to summary and half to critical discussion.
“Critical discussion” can take a variety of forms, and it’s up to you what sort of critical discussion you offer. You might raise an objection to the author’s position or point out a flaw in his or her reasoning. Alternatively, if you find yourself in substantial agreement with the author, you might cite further evidence to support the author’s position, or consider a potential objection to what the author says and offer a response to it on the author’s behalf.