At the Higher Education Academy's Arts and Humanities conference in Salford, 2-4 June 2014, Errietta Bissa from University of Wales Trinity St David spoke about how she uses the 'scholarly reply' as a kind of essay. Basically the idea is that students take a recently published research article and have a choice of either writing a negative reply, where they have to say why they disagree with the paper, or a positive reply - but if they choose the latter they must bring in further evidence in support of the author's view.
I'm due to try this with my final-year undergraduate group in a few weeks' time, but with a twist: it will be in the context of a gallery visit, and the article which the students read and respond to will be on a specific object on display in the gallery. The idea is that there should be a three-way conversation between literature, student, and object.
I'll write a post afterwards and discuss how well it worked and what the students thought.