The Art of Summarizing

Chapter 2 explains how to write an extended summary. We will be working with this today moving into beginning our essays. Careful you do not write a list summary or “closest cliche”. The book treats summary and paraphrase similarly. Keep in mind that you will also be using quotes.

What argument is Zinczenko responding to? What other arguments is he responding to? Is he disagreeing or agreeing with the issue?

Burke’s “Unending Conversation” Metaphor

Kenneth Burke writes:

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.


What’s Motivating This Writer?

Chapter 14 suggests that when you are reading for understanding, you should read for the conversation. If we understand that good academic writing is responding to something or someone, we can read texts as a response to something.

Deciphering the conversation. When you read a text, imagine that the author is responding to other authors. Figure out what views the author is responding to and what the author’s own argument is.

When the “They Say” is unstated. Some writers assume that their readers are familiar with the views they are including. When the conversation is not clearly stated, it is up to you to figure out what is motivating the text.

A gap in the research. A challenge to they say is when the writer is writing about something that is not being discussed.

Reading particularly challenging texts. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the conversation writers are responding to because the  language and ideas are challenging or new to you. The conversation can be quite large and complex and understanding it can be a challenge. When this happens, we can write a summary of the ideas. Summarize the conversation as you see it or the concepts as you understand them. Writing things out is one way we can begin to understand complex ideas.

Multivocal Arguments

A great way to explore an issue is to assume the voice of different stakeholders within an issue. Who are the stakeholders in the Zinczenko article?

Assume a voice of one of the stakeholders and write for a few minutes from this perspective. We will discuss this briefly.

Now we will assume a different voice in the issue. Write briefly from this perspective. Discuss.

Quick Write

What does assuming different voices help us with in regards to an issue? What are current issues where this approach would help us?