They Say/I Say Templates. Why Templates? Academic writing requires presenting your sources and your ideas effectively to readers. According to Graff and. "They Say / I Say". The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, with Readings Resource. Instructor's Manual, PDF. (PDF, MB). They Say / I Say:The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings - [ PDF/EBOOK]. PDF format is a popular format for eBooks. All platforms are able to .
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SECOND. EDITION. They. Say. Say. The Moves That. Matter in. Academic Writing . disciplines, we've added readings at the back of the book by a journalist. “They say / I say”: the Moves that Matter in Academic Writing / Gerald Graff, Cathy PM Contents readings Don't Blame the Eater David Zinczenko. They say i say the moves that matter in academic writing with readings (third edition) pdf. Book Details Author: Gerald Graff,Cathy Birkenstein,Russel Durst Pages: Publisher: W. W. “They Say / I Say” with Readings shows that writing well means mastering some key.
Learn more about reviews. The general index is thorough and helpful. There are excellent essays on wikipedia and on genre, respectively. To be fair, it's hard to be "comprehensive" when the topic is writing. I plan on using this text, but will probably supplement it with select chapters from other texts in the open textbook network. I do have a few quibbles, though.
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Write the first one for an essay arguing that, contrary to what Zinczenko claims, there are inexpensive and convenient alternatives to fast-food restaurants.
Write the second for an essay that questions whether being overweight is a genuine medical problem rather than a problem of cultural stereotypes. Compare your two summaries: In a sense, then, quotations function as a kind of proof of evidence, saying to readers: She makes this claim and here it is in her exact words. But the main problem with quoting arises when writers assume that quotations speak for themselves.
Because the meaning of a quotation is obvious to them, many writers assume that this meaning will also be obvious to their readers, when often it is not.
In a way, quotations are orphans: This chapter offers two key ways to pro- duce this sort of integration: In fact, sometimes quotations that were initially relevant to your argument, or to a key point in it, become less so as your text changes during the process of writing and revising.
It can be somewhat misleading, then, to speak of finding your thesis and finding relevant quotations as two separate steps, one coming after the other. Since quotations do not speak for themselves, you need to build a frame around them in which you do that speaking for them. Susan Bordo writes about women and dieting. Until television was introduced in , the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In , three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting.
Another point Bordo makes is that. Since this writer fails to introduce the quotation adequately or explain why he finds it worth quoting, readers will have a hard time reconstructing what Bordo argued. The introductory or lead-in claims should explain who is speaking and set up what the quotation says; the follow-up statements should explain why you consider the quotation to be important and what you take it to say.
When offering such explanations, it is important to use lan- guage that accurately reflects the spirit of the quoted passage. Consider, for example, how the earlier passage on Bordo might be revised using some of these moves. Her basic complaint is that increasing numbers of women across the globe are being led to see themselves as fat and in need of a diet. Ultimately, Bordo complains, the culture of dieting will find you, regardless of where you live. But is it possible to overexplain a quotation?
After all, not all quotations require the same amount of explan- atory framing, and there are no hard-and-fast rules for knowing how much explanation any quotation needs. As a general rule, the most explanatory framing is needed for quotations that may be hard for readers to process: And yet, though the particular situation usually dictates when and how much to explain a quotation, we will still offer one piece of advice: It is better to risk being overly explicit about what you take a quotation to mean than to leave the quotation dangling and your readers in doubt.
Indeed, we encourage you to provide such explanatory framing even when writing to an audience that you know to be familiar with the author being quoted and able to interpret your quotations on their own. The templates in this book will help you avoid such mis- takes. How has he or she introduced the quota- tion, and what, if anything, has the writer said to explain it and tie it to his or her own text?
Look at something you have written for one of your classes. Have you quoted any sources? If so, how have you integrated the quotation into your own text? How have you introduced it? Explained what it means? Indicated how it relates to your text? Perhaps had I studied the situation longer I could have come up with a similar argument.
Although each way of responding is open to endless variation, we focus on these three because readers come to any text needing to learn fairly quickly where the writer stands, and they do this by placing the writer on a mental map consisting of a few familiar options: Is he for what this other person has said, against it, or what?
We would argue, however, that the more complex and subtle your argument is, and the more it departs from the conventional ways people think, the more your readers will need to be able to place it on their mental map in order to process the complex details you present.
It is always a good tactic to begin your response not by launching directly into a mass of details but by stating clearly whether you agree, disagree, or both, using a direct, no-nonsense formula such as: I agree that , but I cannot agree that. In fact, there would be no reason to offer an interpretation of a work of literature or art unless you were responding to the interpre- tations or possible interpretations of others.
Even when you point out features or qualities of an artistic work that others have not noticed, you are implicitly disagreeing with what those interpreters have said by pointing out that they missed or overlooked something that, in your view, is important. Disagreeing can also be the easiest way to generate an essay: But disagreement in fact poses hidden challenges.
You need to do more than simply assert that you disagree with a particular view; you also have to offer persuasive reasons why you disagree. To turn it into an argument, you need to give reasons to support what you say: To move the conversation forward and, indeed, to justify your very act of writing , you need to demonstrate that you have something to contribute.
Here is an example of such a move, used to open an essay on the state of American schools. On the one hand, she argues. On the other hand, she also says. For example: X argues for stricter gun control legislation, saying that the crime rate is on the rise and that we need to restrict the circulation of guns. We need to own guns to protect ourselves against criminals. One of these reasons may in fact explain why the conference speaker we described at the start of Chapter 1 avoided mentioning the disagreement he had with other scholars until he was provoked to do so in the discussion that followed his talk.
As much as we understand such fears of conflict and have experienced them ourselves, we nevertheless believe it is better to state our disagreements in frank yet considerate ways than to deny them. Nevertheless, disagreements do not need to take the form of personal put-downs. You can single out for criticism only those aspects of what someone else has said that are troubling, and then agree with the rest—although such an approach, as we will see later in this chapter, leads to the somewhat more complicated terrain of both agreeing and disagreeing at the same time.
Just as you need to avoid simply contradicting views you disagree with, you also need to do more than simply echo views you agree with. You may cite some corroborating personal experience, or a situation not mentioned by X that her views help readers understand. In other words, your text can usefully contribute to the conversation simply by pointing out unnoticed implications or explaining something that needs to be better understood.
Some writers avoid the practice of agreeing almost as much as others avoid disagreeing. It is hard to align yourself with one position without at least implicitly positioning yourself against others. These findings join a growing convergence of evidence across the human sciences leading to a revolutionary shift in consciousness.
If cooperation, typically associated with altruism and self- sacrifice, sets off the same signals of delight as pleasures commonly associated with hedonism and self-indulgence; if the opposition between selfish and selfless, self vs. Basically, what Gilligan says could be boiled down to a template. What such templates allow you to do, then, is to agree with one view while challenging another—a move that leads into the domain of agreeing and disagreeing simultaneously.
Another aspect we like about this option is that it can be tipped subtly toward agreement or disagreement, depending on where you lay your stress. If you want to stress the disagreement end of the spectrum, you would use a template like the one below. Conversely, if you want to stress your agreement more than your disagreement, you would use a template like this one. Other versions include the following. This move can be especially useful if you are responding to new or particularly challenging work and are as yet unsure where you stand.
But again, as we suggest earlier, whether you are agreeing, disagreeing, or both agreeing and disagreeing, you need to be as clear as pos- sible, and making a frank statement that you are ambivalent is one way to be clear.
Nevertheless, writers often have as many concerns about expressing ambivalence as they do about expressing disagree- ment or agreement.
Some worry that by expressing ambivalence they will come across as evasive, wishy-washy, or unsure of themselves. Others worry that their ambivalence will end up confusing readers who require decisive clear-cut conclusions. At times ambivalence can frustrate readers, leaving them with the feeling that you failed in your obligation to offer the guidance they expect from writers.
At other times, however, acknowledging that a clear-cut resolution of an issue is impos- sible can demonstrate your sophistication as a writer. In an academic culture that values complex thought, forthrightly declaring that you have mixed feelings can be impressive, especially after having ruled out the one-dimensional positions on your issue taken by others in the conversation.
Read one of the essays in the back of this book or on theysayiblog. Write an essay responding in some way to the essay that you worked with in the preceding exercise. This chapter takes up the problem of moving from what they say to what you say without confusing readers about who is saying what. Especially with texts that pres- ent a true dialogue of perspectives, readers need to be alert to the often subtle markers that indicate whose voice the writer is speaking in.
Our national con- sciousness, as shaped in large part by the media and our political leadership, provides us with a picture of ourselves as a nation of prosperity and opportunity with an ever expanding middle-class life-style. As a result, our class differences are muted and our col- lective character is homogenized.
Yet class divisions are real and arguably the most significant factor in determining both our very being in the world and the nature of the society we live in.
The Politics and Economics of Class in the U. Mantsios also places this opening view in quotation marks to signal that it is not his own. Hence, even before Mantsios has declared his own position in the second para- graph, readers can get a pretty solid sense of where he probably stands. To see how important such voice markers are, consider what the Mantsios passage looks like if we remove them. We are all middle-class. We are a nation of prosperity and opportunity with an ever expanding middle-class life-style.
Class divisions are real and arguably the most significant factor in determining both our very being in the world and the nature of the society we live in.
To do so, you can use as voice-identifying devices many of the templates presented in previous chapters. For us, well-supported argu- ments are grounded in persuasive reasons and evidence, not in the use or nonuse of any particular pronouns. Furthermore, if you consistently avoid the first person in your writing, you will probably have trouble making the key move addressed in this chapter: See for yourself how freely the first person is used by the writers quoted in this book, and by the writers assigned in your courses.
I think. On the whole, however, academic writing today, See pp.
Hence, instead of writing: Liberals believe that cultural differences need to be respected. I have a problem with this view, however. I have a problem with what liberals call cultural differences. There is a major problem with the liberal doctrine of so-called cultural differences. You can also embed references to something you yourself have previously said.
So instead of writing two cumbersome sen- tences like: Embedded references like these allow you to economize your train of thought and refer to other perspectives without any major interruption.
When readers cannot tell if you are summarizing your own views or endorsing a certain phrase or label, they have to stop and think: I thought the author disagreed with this claim. Has she actually been asserting this view all along? Is she actually endorsing it? To see how one writer signals when she is asserting her own views and when she is summarizing those of someone else, read the following passage by the social historian Julie Charlip.
As you do so, identify those spots where Charlip refers to the views of others and the signal phrases she uses to distinguish her views from theirs. If only that were true, things might be more simple. But in late twentieth-century America, it seems that society is splitting more and more into a plethora of class factions—the working class, the working poor, lower-middle class, upper-middle class, lower uppers, and upper uppers.
In my days as a newspaper reporter, I once asked a sociology pro- fessor what he thought about the reported shrinking of the middle class. His definition: How do we define class?
Is it an issue of values, lifestyle, taste? Is it the kind of work you do, your relationship to the means of production? Is it a matter of how much money you earn? Are we allowed to choose? What class do I come from? What class am I in now? As an historian, I seek the answers to these questions in the specificity of my past. Study a piece of your own writing to see how many perspec- tives you account for and how well you distinguish your own voice from those you are summarizing.
Consider the following questions: How many perspectives do you engage? What other perspectives might you include? How do you distinguish your views from the other views you summarize? Do you use clear voice-signaling phrases? What options are available to you for clarifying who is saying what?
Which of these options are best suited for this particular text? For the first couple of weeks when she sits down to write, things go relatively well. This little story contains an important lesson for all writers, experienced and inexperienced alike.
It suggests that even though most of us are upset at the idea of someone criticizing our work, such criticisms can actually work to our advantage.
Here you are, trying to say something that will hold up, and we want you to tell readers all the negative things someone might say against you? We are urging you to tell readers what others might say against you, but our point is that doing so will actu- ally enhance your credibility, not undermine it. As we argue throughout this book, writing well does not mean piling up uncontroversial truths in a vacuum; it means engaging others in a dialogue or debate—not only by opening your text with a summary of what others have said, as we suggest in Chapter 1, but also by imagining what others might say against your argu- ment as it unfolds.
Once you see writing as an act of entering a conversation, you should also see how opposing arguments can work for you rather than against you. When you entertain a counterargument, you make a kind of preemptive strike, identifying problems with your argument before oth- ers can point them out for you. In addition, by imagining what others might say against your claims, you come across as a generous, broad-minded person who is confident enough to open himself or herself to debate—like the writer in the figure on the following page.
You might also leave important ques- tions hanging and concerns about your arguments unaddressed. Finally, if you fail to plant a naysayer in your text, you may find that you have very little to say.
Planting a naysayer in your text is a relatively simple move, as you can see by looking at the following passage from a book by the writer Kim Chernin. At this point I would like to raise certain objections that have been inspired by the skeptic in me. She feels that I have been ignoring some of the most common assumptions we all make about our bod- ies and these she wishes to see addressed. You download new clothes. You look at yourself more eagerly in the mirror.
You feel sexier. Admit it. You like yourself better. Instead, she embraces that voice and writes it into her text. Note too that instead of dispatching this naysaying voice quickly, as many of us would be tempted to do, Chernin stays with it and devotes a full paragraph to it. She feels that I have been ignoring the complexities of the situation.
But the ideas that motivate arguments and objections often can—and, where possible, should—be ascribed to a specific ideology or school of thought for example, liberals, Christian fundamentalists, neopragmatists rather than to anonymous anybodies. To be sure, some people dislike such labels and may even resent having labels applied to themselves. Some feel that labels put individuals in boxes, stereotyping them and glossing over what makes each of us unique. But since the life of ideas, includ- ing many of our most private thoughts, is conducted through groups and types rather than solitary individuals, intellectual exchange requires labels to give definition and serve as a convenient shorthand.
If you categorically reject all labels, you give up an important resource and even mislead readers by presenting yourself and others as having no connection to anyone else. You also miss an opportunity to generalize the importance and relevance of your work to some larger con- versation.
The way to minimize the problem of stereotyping, then, is not to categorically reject labels but to refine and qualify their use, as the following templates demonstrate. For instance, you can frame objections in the form of questions. What are the chances of its actually being adopted? Is it always the case, as I have been suggesting, that?
I like a couple of cigarettes or a cigar with a drink, and like many other people, I only smoke in bars or nightclubs. Bartenders who were friends have turned into cops, forcing me outside to shiver in the cold and curse under my breath.
Smokers are being demonized and victim- ized all out of proportion. Health con- sciousness is important, but so are pleasure and freedom of choice. This move works well for Jackson, but See Chapter 5 for more only because he uses quotation marks and other voice advice on markers to make clear at every point whose voice using voice markers.
Although it is tempting to give opposing views short shrift, to hurry past them, or even to mock them, doing so is usually counterproductive. They make readers game. Or would he detect a mocking tone or an oversimplifica- tion of his views? There will always be certain objections, to be sure, that you believe do not deserve to be represented, just as there will be objections that seem so unworthy of respect that they inspire ridicule.
After all, when you write objections into a text, you take the risk that readers will find those objections more convincing than the argument you yourself are advancing. In the edito- rial quoted above, for example, Joe Jackson takes the risk that readers will identify more with the anti-smoking view he sum- marizes than with the pro-smoking position he endorses.
This is precisely what Benjamin Franklin describes hap- pening to himself in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin , when he recalls being converted to Deism a religion that exalts reason over spirituality by reading anti-Deist books. When he encountered the views of Deists being negatively summarized by authors who opposed them, Franklin explains, he ended up finding the Deist position more persuasive. It is good to address objections in your writing, but only if you are able to overcome them.
Often the best way to overcome an objection is not to try to refute it completely but to agree with part of it while chal- lenging only the part you dispute. Rather than build a difference. Can I deny these things? No woman who has managed to lose weight would wish to argue with this. Most people feel better about themselves when they become slender. And yet, upon reflection, it seems to me that there is something precarious about this well- being.
After all, 98 percent of people who lose weight gain it back. Then, of course, we can no longer bear to look at ourselves in the mirror. Even as she concedes that losing weight feels good in the short run, she argues that in the long run the weight always returns, making the dieter far more miserable. But they exaggerate when they claim that. But on the other hand, I still insist that. Often the most productive engagements among differing views end with a combined vision that incorporates elements of each one.
After all, the goal of writing is not to keep proving that what- ever you initially said is right, but to stretch the limits of your thinking. Some would argue that that is what the academic world is all about. Read the following passage by the cultural critic Eric Schlosser. Do it for him. Insert a brief paragraph stating an objection to his argument and then responding to the objection as he might.
The United States must declare an end to the war on drugs. It has created a multibillion-dollar black market, enriched organized crime groups and promoted the corruption of government officials throughout the world. And it has not stemmed the widespread use of illegal drugs. By any rational measure, this war has been a total failure. We must develop public policies on substance abuse that are guided not by moral righteousness or political expediency but by common sense.
The United States should immediately decriminal- ize the cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. We must shift our entire approach to drug abuse from the criminal justice system to the public health system. Congress should appoint an independent commission to study the harm-reduction policies that have been adopted in Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. The commission should recommend policies for the United States based on one important criterion: Like the rest of American society, our drug policy would greatly benefit from less punishment and more compassion.
If not, revise your text to do so. If so, have you anticipated all the likely objections? Who if anyone have you attributed the objections to? Have you represented the objections fairly? Have you answered them well enough, or do you think you now need to qualify your own argu- ment? Could you use any of the language suggested in this chapter? Does the introduction of a naysayer strengthen your argument? Why, or why not? Bernini was the best sculptor of the baroque period.
All writing is conversational. So what? Why does any of this matter? How many times have you had reason to ask these ques- tions? Regardless of how interesting a topic may be to you as a writer, readers always need to know what is at stake in a text and why they should care. All too often, however, these ques- tions are left unanswered—mainly because writers and speakers assume that audiences will know the answers already or will figure them out on their own.
The problem is not necessarily that the speakers lack a clear, well-focused thesis or that the thesis is inadequately supported with evidence. That this question is so often left unaddressed is unfortunate since the speakers generally could offer interesting, engaging answers. Yet many academics fail to identify these reasons and consequences explicitly in what they say and write. Not everyone can claim to have a cure for cancer or a solution to end poverty.
In one sense, the two questions get at the same thing: Yet they get at this significance in different ways. Writing in the New York Times, she explains some of the latest research into fat cells. Scientists used to think body fat and the cells it was made of were pretty much inert, just an oily storage compartment.
But within the past decade research has shown that fat cells act like chemical factories and that body fat is potent stuff: By referring to these scientists, Grady implicitly acknowledges that her text is part of a larger con- versation and shows who besides herself has an interest in what she says. Within the past few decades research has shown that fat cells act like chemical factories and that body fat is potent stuff: Though this statement is clear and easy to follow, it lacks any indication that anyone needs to hear it.
Okay, one nods while reading this passage, fat is an active, potent thing. But does anyone really care? Who, if anyone, is interested?
But recently [or within the past few decades] experts suggest that it can be counterproductive. Who besides me and a handful of recent researchers has a stake in these claims? At the very least, the researchers who formerly believed should care.
To gain greater authority as a writer, it can help to name spe- cific people or groups who have a stake in your claims and to go into some detail about their views. For instance, one eminent scholar of cell biology, , assumed in , her seminal work on cell structures and functions, that fat cells. Ultimately, when it came to the nature of fat, the basic assumption was that.
But a new body of research shows that fat cells are far more complex and that. In other cases, you might refer to certain people or groups who should care about your claims. However, new research shows. But on closer inspection. Ultimately, such templates help you create a dramatic tension or clash of views in your writing that readers will feel invested in and want to see resolved.
Why should anyone besides a few specialists in the field care about such disputes? What, if anything, hinges on them? The best way to answer such questions about the larger con- sequences of your claims is to appeal to something that your audience already figures to care about.
Researchers trying to decipher the biology of fat cells hope to find new ways to help people get rid of excess fat or, at least, prevent obesity from destroying their health.
In an increasingly obese world, their efforts have taken on added importance. Internationally, more than a billion people are overweight. For example, a sociologist ana- lyzing back-to-nature movements of the past thirty years might make the following statement. In a world increasingly dominated by cellphones and sophisticated computer technologies, these attempts to return to nature appear futile.
All these templates help you hook your readers. By suggesting the real-world applications of your claims, the templates not only demonstrate that others care about your claims but also tell your readers why they should care.
You also need to frame it in a way that helps readers care about it. Does it really need to be spelled out? And why should I care about supporting a family? Nevertheless, we urge you to go as far as possible in answering such questions.
And though some expert readers might already know why your claims matter, even they need to be reminded. When you step back from the text and explain why it matters, you are urging your audience to keep reading, pay attention, and care. Find several texts scholarly essays, newspaper articles, emails, memos, blogs, etc.
What difference does it make whether they do or do not? How do the authors who answer these questions do so? Do they use any strategies or techniques that you could borrow for your own writing? You might use the following template to get started. My point here that should interest those who.
Beyond this limited audience, however, my point should speak to anyone who cares about the larger issue of. Spot is a good dog.
He has fleas. Can you connect them in some logical way? Spot is a good dog, but he has fleas. Spot is a good dog, even though he has fleas. And yet Bill did focus well on his subjects. When he men- tioned Spot the dog or Plato, or any other topic in one sen- tence, we could count on Spot or Plato being the topic of the following sentence as well.
But because Bill neglected to mark his con- nections, his writing was as frustrating to read as theirs. In all these cases, we had to struggle to figure out on our own how the sentences and paragraphs connected or failed to connect with one another. What makes such writers so hard to read, in other words, is that they never gesture back to what they have just said or forward to what they plan to say. Each sentence basically starts a new thought, rather than growing out of or extending the thought of the previous sentence.
When Bill talked about his writing habits, he acknowl- edged that he never went back and read what he had written. Indeed, he told us that, other than using his computer software to check for spelling errors and make sure that his tenses were all aligned, he never actually reread what he wrote before turn- ing it in.
As Bill seemed to picture it, writing was something one did while sitting at a computer, whereas reading was a separate activity generally reserved for an easy chair, book in hand. It had never occurred to Bill that to write a good sentence he had to think about how it connected to those that came before and after; that he had to think hard about how that sentence fit into the sentences that surrounded it.
Each sentence for Bill existed in a sort of tunnel isolated from every other sentence on the page. What we suggest in this chapter, then, is that you converse not only with others in your writing but with yourself: This chapter addresses the issue of how to connect all the parts of your writing. The best compositions establish a sense of momentum and direction by making explicit connections among their different parts, so that what is said in one sentence or paragraph both sets up what is to come and is clearly informed by what has already been said.
It may help to think of each sentence you write as having arms that reach backward and forward, as the figure below suggests.
When your sentences reach outward like this, they establish con- nections that help your writing flow smoothly in a way readers appreciate.
Conversely, when writing lacks such connections and moves in fits and starts, readers repeatedly have to go back over the sentences and guess at the connections on their own. This chapter offers several strategies you can use to put this principle into action: All these moves require that you always look back and, in crafting any one sentence, think hard about those that precede it. Notice how we ourselves have used such connecting devices thus far in this chapter.
If you look through this book, you should be able to find many sentences that contain some word or phrase that explicitly hooks them back to some- thing said earlier, to something about to be said, or both. And many sentences in this chapter repeat key terms related to the idea of connection: Transitions are usually placed at or near the start of sentences so they can signal to readers where your text is going: The following is a list of commonly used transitions, catego- rized according to their different functions.
But even though such terms should function unobtrusively in your writing, they can be among the most powerful tools in your vocabulary. Notice that some transitions can help you not only to move from one sentence to another, but to combine two or more sen- tences into one. Combining sentences in this way helps prevent the choppy, staccato effect that arises when too many short sen- tences are strung together, one after the other. And if you draw on them frequently enough, using them should eventually become sec- ond nature.
To be sure, it is possible to overuse transitions, so take time to read over your drafts carefully and eliminate any transitions that are unnecessary. Seasoned writers sometimes omit explicit transitions, but only because they rely heavily on the other types of connect- ing devices that we turn to in the rest of this chapter.
Choosing transition terms should involve a bit of mental sweat, since the whole point of using them is to make your writing more reader-friendly, not less. For example, he has fleas. Like transitions, however, pointing words need to be used carefully. Alexis de Tocqueville was highly critical of democratic societ- ies, which he saw as tending toward mob rule.
At the same time, he accorded democratic societies grudging respect. You can fix problems caused by a free-floating pointer by making sure there is one and only one possible object in the vicinity that the pointer could be referring to.
When used effectively, your key terms should be items that readers could extract from your text in order to get a solid sense of your topic. Playing with key terms also can be a good way to come up with a title and appropriate section headings for your text. Notice how often Martin Luther King Jr. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work.
But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. In fact, these key terms help build a sense of momentum in the paragraph and bind it together. In a variety of ways, the mass media helped make us the cultural schizophrenics we are today, women who rebel against yet submit to prevailing images about what a desirable, worthwhile woman should be.
We are ambivalent toward feminin- ity on the one hand and feminism on the other. When I open Vogue, for example, I am simultaneously infu- riated and seduced. I adore the materialism; I despise the materialism. I want to look beautiful; I think wanting to look beautiful is about the most dumb-ass goal you could have.
The magazine stokes my desire; the magazine triggers my bile. To explain this schizophrenia. Susan Douglas, Where the Girls Are: In so doing, they bind the passage together into a unified whole that, despite its complexity and sophistication, stays focused over its entire length. To effectively connect the parts of your argument and keep it mov- ing forward, be careful not to leap from one idea to a different idea or introduce new ideas cold.
Key terms, pointing terms, and even many transitions can be used in a way that not only brings something forward from the previous sentence but in some way alters it. We would even go so far as to suggest that after your first sentence, almost every sentence you write should refer back to previous statements in some way.
Cheyenne loved basketball. Nevertheless, she feared her height would put her at a disadvantage. It too requires repetition to help readers shift gears with you and follow your train of thought. Repetition, in short, is the central means by which you can move from point A to point B in a text.
To introduce one last analogy, think of the way experienced rock climbers move up a steep slope. Instead of jumping or lurching from one handhold to the next, good climbers get a secure handhold on the position they have established before reaching for the next ledge.
The same thing applies to writing. In this way, your writing remains focused while simultaneously moving forward. On the one hand, writers certainly can run into trouble if they merely repeat themselves and nothing more. On the other hand, repetition is key to creat- ing continuity in writing. The trick therefore is not to avoid repeating yourself but to repeat yourself in varied and interesting enough ways that you advance your argument without sounding tedious.
Annotate the connecting devices by underlining the transitions, circling the key terms, and putting boxes around the pointing terms. Our civilisation. The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make the machines, are all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal.
In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miner is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the soil. He is a sort of grimy cary- atid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.
For this reason the actual process by which coal is extracted is well worth watching, if you get the chance and are willing to take the trouble. This is not easy, because when the mine is working visitors are a nuisance and are not encouraged, but if you go at any other time, it is possible to come away with a totally wrong impression. On a Sunday, for instance, a mine seems almost peaceful.
The time to go there is when the machines are roaring and the air is black with coal dust, and when you can actually see what the miners have to do.
At those times the place is like hell, or at any rate like my own mental picture of hell. Most of the things one imagines in hell are there—heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and, above all, unbearably cramped space. Everything except the fire, for there is no fire down there except the feeble beams of Davy lamps and electric torches which scarcely penetrate the clouds of coal dust.
I will explain that in a moment—you crawl through the last line of pit props and see opposite you a shiny black wall three or four feet high. This is the coal face. Overhead is the smooth ceiling made by the rock from which the coal has been cut; underneath is the rock again, so that the gallery you are in is only as high as the ledge of coal itself, probably not much more than a yard.
The first impression of all, overmastering everything else for a while, is the frightful, deafening din from the conveyor belt which carries the coal away. You cannot see very far, because the fog of coal dust throws back the beam of your lamp, but you can see on either side of you the line of half-naked kneeling men, one to every four or five yards, driving their shovels under the fallen coal and flinging it swiftly over their left shoulders.
Underline all the transitions, pointing terms, key terms, and repetition. Do you see any patterns? Do you rely on certain devices more than others? Are there any passages that are hard to follow—and if so, can you make them easier to read by trying any of the other devices discussed in this chapter? That to impress your instructors you need to use big words, long sentences, and complex sentence structures?
On the contrary, academic writing can—and in our view should—be relaxed, easy to follow, and even a little bit fun. In this chapter, we want to show you how you can write effective academic arguments while holding on to some of your own voice.
This point is important, since you may well become turned off from writing if you think your everyday language practices have to be checked at the classroom door. Nor is it to suggest that you may fall back on colloquial usage as an excuse for not learning more rigorous forms of expression.
After all, learning these more rigorous forms of expression and developing a more intellectual self is a major reason for getting an education. We do, however, wish to suggest that relaxed, colloquial language can often enliven academic writing and even enhance its rigor and precision.
Such informal language also helps you connect with readers in a personal as well as an intellectual way. In our view, then, it is a mistake to assume that the academic and the everyday are completely separate languages that can never be used together. Consider, for instance, the following passage from a scholarly article about the way teachers respond to errors in student writing.
Marking and judging formal and mechanical errors in student papers is one area in which composition studies seems to have a multiple-personality disorder. On the one hand, our mellow, student-centered, process-based selves tend to condemn mark- ing formal errors at all. Doing it represents the Bad Old Days. Fidditch and Mr. Flutesnoot with sharpened red pencils, spill- ing innocent blood across the page. Useless detail work. Joseph Williams has pointed out how arbi- trary and context-bound our judgments of formal error are.
Second, to give vivid, concrete form to their discussion of grading disciplinarians, Connors and Lunsford conjure up such archetypal, imaginary figures as the stuffy, old-fashioned taskmasters Ms. Flutes- noot. Through such imaginative uses of language, Connors and Lunsford inject greater force into what might otherwise have been dry, scholarly prose. Notice how the food industry critic Eric Schlosser describes some changes in the city of Colorado Springs in his best-selling book on fast foods in the United States.
Another example of writing that blends the informal with the formal comes from an essay on the American novelist Willa Cather by the literary critic Judith Fetterley. Above all else, she is self-conscious. Indeed, her passage offers a simple recipe for blending the high and the low: While one effect of blending languages like this is to give your writing more punch, another is to make a political statement— about the way, for example, society unfairly overvalues some dialects and devalues others.
For instance, in the titles of two of her books, Talkin and Testifyin: Here are three typical passages. In Black America, the oral tradition has served as a fundamen- tal vehicle for gittin ovuh.
That tradition preserves the Afro- American heritage and reflects the collective spirit of the race. Geneva Smitherman, Talkin and Testifyin: You can always experiment with your language and improve it.
You can always dress it up, dress it down, or some combination of both. Is it always appropriate to mix styles? And when you do so, how do you know when enough is enough? In all situations, think carefully about your audience and purpose. On such occasions, it is usually best to err on the safe side, conforming as closely as possible to the conventions of standard written English. In other situations for other audiences, however, there is room to be more creative—in this book, for example.
Although it may have been in the past, academic writing in most disciplines today is no longer the linguistic equivalent of a black-tie affair. To succeed as a writer in college, then, you need not always limit your language to the strictly formal. Although academic writing does rely on complex sentence patterns and on specialized, disciplinary vocabularies, it is surprising how often such writing draws on the languages of the street, popular culture, our ethnic communities, and home.
Take a paragraph from this book and dress it down, rewrit- ing it in informal colloquial language.
Then rewrite the same paragraph again by dressing it up, making it much more for- mal. Then rewrite the paragraph one more time in a way that blends the two styles. Share your paragraphs with a classmate, and discuss which versions are most effective and why. Be sure to keep your audience and purpose in mind, and use language that will be appropriate to both.
In short, then, metacommentary is a way of commenting on your claims and telling others how—and how not—to think about them.
Think of metacommentary as a sort of second text that stands along- side your main text and explains what it means. What we are suggesting, then, is that you think of your text as two texts joined at the hip: The figure below demonstrates what we mean.
The answer is that, no matter how clear and precise your writing is, readers can still fail to understand it in any number of ways.
Readers may also fail to see what follows from your argument, or they may follow your reasoning and examples yet fail to see the larger conclusion you draw from them. As a result, no matter how straightforward a writer you are, readers still need you to help them grasp what you really mean. Because the written word is prone to so much mischief and can be interpreted in so many different ways, we need metacommentary to keep misinterpre- tations and other communication misfires at bay.
Another reason to master the art of metacommentary is that it will help you develop your ideas and generate more text. If you have ever had trouble producing the required number of pages for a writing project, metacommentary can help you add both length and depth to your writing.
When these students learn to use metacommentary, however, they get more out of their ideas and write longer, more substantial texts. In sum, metacommentary can help you extract the full potential from your ideas, draw- ing out important implications, explaining ideas from different perspectives, and so forth.
It is my intention in this book to show that a great. With this in view, my task in the chapters ahead is straightforward. I appreci- ate junk as much as the next fellow, and I know full well that the printing press has generated enough of it to fill the Grand Canyon to overflowing.
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business To see what we mean by metacommentary, look at the phrases above that we have italicized.
With these moves, Postman essentially stands apart from his main ideas to help readers follow and understand what he is arguing. He previews what he will argue: It is my intention in this book to show. He spells out how he will make his argument: With this in view, my task in these chapters.
I must, first, dem- onstrate. He distinguishes his argument from other arguments it may easily be confused with: But to avoid the possibility that my analysis will be interpreted as. I must first explain that.
Titles, in fact, are one of the most important forms of metacommentary, functioning rather like carnival barkers telling passersby what they can expect if they go inside.
Sub- titles, too, function as metacommentary, further explaining or elaborating on the main title. Essays with vague titles or no titles send the message that the writer has simply not bothered to reflect on what he or she is saying and is uninterested in guiding or orienting readers.
In this chapter we have tried to show that the most persuasive writing often doubles back and comments on its own claims in ways that help readers negotiate and process them. But even the strongest arguments will flounder unless writers use metacommentary to prevent potential misreadings and make their arguments shine.
Read an essay or article and annotate it to indicate the different ways the author uses metacommentary. Use the templates on pp. How does the author use metacommentary?
Did you find any forms of metacommentary not discussed in this chapter? If so, can you identify them, name them, and perhaps devise templates based on them for use in your own writing? Complete each of the following metacommentary templates in any way that makes sense. In this article, I will also. But let me back up and explain how I arrived at this conclu- sion: In this way, I came to believe that this war is a big mistake. The challenge is to figure out what needs work—and then what exactly you need to do.
The list of guidelines below offers help and points you back to relevant advice and templates in this book. Do you present your argument as a response to what others say? Do you make reference to other views besides your own? Do you use voice markers to distinguish clearly for readers between your views and those of others? The checklist below follows the order of chapters in this book. Do you start with what others say? If not, try revising to do so.
See pp. If so, have you represented their views accurately—and adequately? Do you quote others? Do you frame each quotation successfully, integrating it into your text? Does the quotation support your argument? Do you explain in your own words what the quotation means? Do you then clearly indicate how the quotation bears on your own argument? Have you documented all summaries and quotations, both with parenthetical documentation in your text and a references or works cited list?
If not, see pp. What Do You Say? Have you said so explicitly? If you disagree, do you give reasons why you disagree? If you agree, what more have you added to the conversation? If you both agree and disagree, do you do so without confusing readers or seeming evasive? Have you stated your position and the one it responds to as a connected unit?
See Chapter 8 for tips on how to do so. Will readers be able to distinguish what you say from what others say? Have you acknowledged likely objections to your argument? If so, have you represented these views fairly—and responded to them persuasively? See Chapter 6 for tips on how to do so. If not, think about what other perspectives exist on your topic, and incorporate them into your draft.
Do you have a title?