handout_Cathechism_Summaries[1] - OHara The Catechism of...

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The Catechism of Summaries Why do we summarize? --in order to evoke another writer’s argument while offering a few of his or her examples and assessing the validity of those arguments and examples. What do summaries do? --they bolster your argument by providing a recognized framework in which someone has already considered your topic; or they can lend authority to your arguments by providing an example of existing work on your topic; or they can help you to show where someone else “got it wrong,” allowing you to argue against the claim; or they can be your springboards for your ideas as you build from them. How much do we summarize? --as much as necessary. If the goal is to evoke very quickly the overall point of an article or book, then even one sentence can do it. For example, Reuben Hasselhoff, in “Summaries Schmummeries” used numerous examples of summaries from American medical journals to show how short summaries can help a writer raise supporting evidence and move on quickly (199). Longer summaries will sometimes show several complex points made by a source, and will often include your own reactions and responses to those ideas. Very long summaries might attempt to capture even more of the original argument, its evidence and conclusions. So summarize as much as you want or need to. Should we quote while summarizing? --it’s up to you. If your source contains a very quotable sentence (one that just sounds good), then go right ahead. If the original author is dry and wordy, then consider capturing his point in your own words. If the original author has a very turgid style, consider compressing his words into your own and quoting simply his best phrases through embedded quotations. As Rufus Manfrengensen said in Quoting by the Books (1989), writers should feel free to “cherry pick” or “grab what they can” from their original sources, particularly if those sources have “a syrupy style, with sluggish sentences and slow pace” (22). Are there any tips you can give us about summarizing? -- Try a usual method. 1.) offer an overarching assessment of your original author’s main point. 2.) Go on to explain one or two nuances of his or her work. 3.) Offer a sense of how the author responds to certain dilemmas that might be apparent through your summary. 4.) Provide some of the author’s original examples/illustrations. 5.) Extend the author’s argument by offering hypothetical further examples, or offer contradictory examples if you are working toward a refutation. Can you give us an example of a summary, both a long version and a short version?
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course ENG 0802 taught by Professor Harrison during the Spring '08 term at Temple.

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handout_Cathechism_Summaries[1] - OHara The Catechism of...

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