Summarizing, Quoting, Responding (3 pages)kriswzc14
what they’re saying about “they say / i say”
“Many students say that it is the first book they’ve found that actually helps them with writing in all disciplines.”
—Laura Sonderman, Marshall University
“A brilliant book. . . . It’s like a membership card in the aca- demic club.” —Eileen Seifert, DePaul University
“This book demystifies rhetorical moves, tricks of the trade that many students are unsure about. It’s reasonable, helpful, nicely written . . . and hey, it’s true. I would have found it immensely helpful myself in high school and college.”
—Mike Rose, University of California, Los Angeles
“The argument of this book is important—that there are ‘moves’ to academic writing . . . and that knowledge of them can be generative. The template format is a good way to teach and demystify the moves that matter. I like this book a lot.”
—David Bartholomae, University of Pittsburgh
“Students need to walk a fine line between their work and that of others, and this book helps them walk that line, providing specific methods and techniques for introducing, explaining, and integrating other voices with their own ideas.”
—Libby Miles, University of Vermont
“A beautifully lucid way to approach argument—different from any rhetoric I’ve ever seen.”
—Anne-Marie Thomas, Austin Community College, Riverside
“It offers students the formulas we, as academic writers, all carry in our heads.” —Karen Gardiner, University of Alabama
“The best tribute to ‘They Say / I Say’ I’ve heard is this, from a student: ‘This is one book I’m not selling back to the bookstore.’ Nods all around the room. The students love this book.”
—Christine Ross, Quinnipiac University
“What effect has ‘They Say’ had on my students’ writing? They are finally entering the Burkian Parlor of the university. This book uncovers the rhetorical conventions that transcend dis- ciplinary boundaries, so that even freshmen, newcomers to the academy, are immediately able to join in the conversation.”
—Margaret Weaver, Missouri State University
“It’s the anti-composition text: Fun, creative, humorous, bril- liant, effective.”
—Perry Cumbie, Durham Technical Community College
“This book explains in clear detail what skilled writers take for granted.” —John Hyman, American University
“The ability to engage with the thoughts of others is one of the most important skills taught in any college-level writing course, and this book does as good a job teaching that skill as any text I have ever encountered.” —William Smith, Weatherford College
“Students find this book tremendously helpful—they report that it has ‘demystified’ academic writing for them.”
—Karen Gocsik, University of California at San Diego
“I love ‘They Say / I Say,’ and more importantly, so do my students.” —Catherine Hayter, Saddleback College
“ ‘They Say / I Say’ reveals the language of academic writing in a way that students seem to understand and incorporate more easily than they do with other writing books. Instead of a list of don’ts, the book provides a catalog of do’s, which is always more effective.”
—Amy Lea Clemons, Francis Marion University
“This book makes the implicit rules of academic writing explicit for students. It’s the book I really wish I’d had when I was an undergraduate.”
—Steven Bailey, Central Michigan University
F O U R T H E D I T I O N
“THEY SAY I SAY” The Move s Tha t Ma t t e r
i n Academ i c Wr i t i n g
both of the University of Illinois at Chicago
B w . w . n o r t o n & c o m p a n y
n e w y o r k | l o n d o n
For Aaron David
W. W. Norton & Company has been independent since its founding in 1923, when William Warder Norton and Mary D. Herter Norton first published lectures delivered at the People’s Institute, the adult education division of New York City’s Cooper Union. The firm soon expanded its program beyond the Institute, publishing books by celebrated academics from America and abroad. By mid-century, the two major pillars of Norton’s publishing program—trade books and college texts—were firmly established. In the 1950s, the Norton family transferred control of the company to its employees, and today—with a staff of four hundred and a comparable number of trade, college, and professional titles published each year—W. W. Norton & Company stands as the largest and oldest publishing house owned wholly by its employees.
Copyright © 2018, 2017, 2014, 2010, 2009, 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America
Permission to use copyrighted material is included in the credits section of this book, which begins on page 295.
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110 wwnorton.com
W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., 15 Carlisle Street, London W1D 3BS
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
preface to the fourth edition ix
preface xiii Demystifying Academic Conversation
introduction 1 Entering the Conversation
PART 1 . “THEY SAY”
one “they say” 19 Starting with What Others Are Saying
two “her point is” 30 The Art of Summarizing
three “as he himself puts it” 43 The Art of Quoting
PART 2 . “ I SAY”
four “yes / no / okay, but” 53 Three Ways to Respond
five “and yet” 67 Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
six “skeptics may object” 77 Planting a Naysayer in Your Text
seven “so what? who cares?” 91 Saying Why It Matters
PART 3. T YING IT ALL TOGETHER
eight “as a result” 101 Connecting the Parts
nine “you mean i can just say it that way?” 117 Academic Writing Doesn’t Mean Setting Aside Your Own Voice
ten “but don’t get me wrong” 131 The Art of Metacommentary
eleven “he says contends” 141 Using the Templates to Revise
PART 4. IN SPECIFIC ACADEMIC CONTEXTS
twelve “i take your point” 162 Entering Class Discussions
thirteen don’t make them scroll up 166 Entering Online Conversations
fourteen what’s motivating this writer? 176 Reading for the Conversation
fifteen “on closer examination” 187 Entering Conversations about Literature
sixteen “the data suggest” 205 Writing in the Sciences
seventeen “analyze this” 224 Writing in the Social Sciences
C O N T E N T S
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r e a d i n g s 243
Don’t Blame the Eater 245 David Zinczenko
Hidden Intellectualism 248 Gerald Graff
“Rise of the Machines” Is Not a Likely Future 256 Michael Littman
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 261 Michelle Alexander
Everything That Rises Must Converge 275 Flannery O’Connor
index of templates 309
preface to the fourth edition
Since it was first published over a decade ago, this book has been dedicated to the idea that our own views are most thoughtfully formed in conversation with the views of others, including views that differ from our own. When students work with one of this book’s templates like “They say that , and I concede . But ,” they see their beliefs from another side and, in our view, are therefore able to produce more compelling arguments. As the twenty-first century unfolds, however, the increas- ingly polarized state of our society is making it harder to listen to those who see things differently than we do. The wider our divisions become, the harder it is to find anyone who is will- ing to seriously consider viewpoints that oppose their own. Too often we either avoid difficult discussions altogether, or we talk only with like-minded people, who often reinforce our pre-existing assumptions and insulate us from serious challenge. In this fourth edition of our book, therefore, we double down in a variety of ways on the importance of getting outside our isolated spheres and listening to others, even when we may not like what we hear.
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what’s new in the book
New materials in the introduction reinforce the importance of listening carefully to what others say (what “they say”) and summarizing it in a way that does it justice, treating our own ideas (what “I say”) not as uncontestable givens but as entries in a conversation or a debate in which participants may agree, agree up to a point, or disagree.
A new chapter on entering online conversations further underscores the importance of referencing what “they say” when responding to others on blogs, class discussion boards, and the like. In this chapter, which offers more practical advice on online writing than the more theoretical chapter it replaces, we argue that, while digital technologies have transformed class- rooms and connected writers in unprecedented ways, genuine conversation is all too rare. Too many online writers, instead of actually responding to others, end up talking past one another in discrete monologues that leave it unclear who or what has motivated them to write. This chapter suggests why online writ- ing may be especially prone to this problem and offers tech- niques for overcoming it.
A substantially revised chapter on academic language (now called “You Mean I Can Just Say It That Way?”) under- scores the need to bridge spheres that are too often kept sepa- rate: everyday language and academic writing. This chapter encourages students to draw on their everyday voices in their academic writing rather than set them aside. By translating academic claims into everyday language, we show, students are better able to clarify their ideas for readers and even for themselves.
Preface to the Fourth Edition
Many new model examples—fifteen in all—from a wide range of authors, including Rebecca Goldstein, Deborah Tannen, Charles Murray, Nicholas Carr, and Michelle Alexander, among others, highlight the many different contexts for aca- demic conversations.
A substantially revised and updated chapter on writing in the social sciences reflects a broader range of writing assign- ments, with examples from academic publications in sociology, psychology, and political science.
New documented readings from two different fields—an essay by the computer scientist Michael Littman and a selec- tion from The New Jim Crow by the legal scholar Michelle Alexander—show how the rhetorical moves taught in this book work across disciplines.
Even as we have revised and added to “They Say / I Say,” our basic goals remain unchanged: to demystify academic reading and writing by identifying the key moves of persuasive argu- ment and representing those moves in forms that students can put into practice. We hope this fourth edition will get us even closer to these goals, equipping students with the writing skills they need to enter the academic world and beyond.
Online tutorials give students hands-on practice recognizing and using the rhetorical moves taught in this book both as readers and writers. Each tutorial helps students read a full essay with an eye on these moves and then respond to a writing prompt using templates from the book.
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They Say / I Blog. Updated monthly, this blog provides up-to- the-minute readings on the issues covered in the book, along with questions that prompt students to literally join the con- versations. Check it out at theysayiblog.com.
Instructor’s Guide. Now available in print, the guide includes expanded in-class activities, sample syllabi, summaries of each chapter and reading, and a chapter on using the online resources, including They Say / I Blog.
Ebook. Searchable, portable, and interactive. The complete textbook for a fraction of the price. Students can interact with the text—take notes, bookmark, search, and highlight. The ebook can be viewed on—and synced between—all computers and mobile devices.
InQuizitive for Writers. Adaptive, game-like exercises help students practice editing, focusing especially on the errors that matter.
Coursepack. Norton resources you can add to your online, hybrid, or lecture course—all at no cost. Norton Coursepacks work within your existing learning management system; there’s no new system to learn, and access is free and easy. Customizable resources include assignable writing prompts from theysayiblog. com, quizzes on grammar and documentation, documentation guides, model student essays, and more.
Find it all at digital.wwnorton.com/theysay4 or contact your Norton representative for more information.
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Demystifying Academic Conversation
Experienced writing instructors have long recognized that writing well means entering into conversation with others. Academic writing in particular calls upon writers not simply to express their own ideas, but to do so as a response to what others have said. The first-year writing program at our own university, according to its mission statement, asks “students to partici- pate in ongoing conversations about vitally important academic and public issues.” A similar statement by another program holds that “intellectual writing is almost always composed in response to others’ texts.” These statements echo the ideas of rhetorical theorists like Kenneth Burke, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Wayne Booth as well as recent composition scholars like David Bartholomae, John Bean, Patricia Bizzell, Irene Clark, Greg Colomb, Lisa Ede, Peter Elbow, Joseph Harris, Andrea Lunsford, Elaine Maimon, Gary Olson, Mike Rose, John Swales and Christine Feak, Tilly Warnock, and others who argue that writing well means engaging the voices of others and letting them in turn engage us. Yet despite this growing consensus that writing is a social, conversational act, helping student writers actually partici- pate in these conversations remains a formidable challenge. This book aims to meet that challenge. Its goal is to demys- tify academic writing by isolating its basic moves, explaining them clearly, and representing them in the form of templates.
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In this way, we hope to help students become active partici- pants in the important conversations of the academic world and the wider public sphere.
• Shows that writing well means entering a conversation, sum- marizing others (“they say”) to set up one’s own argument (“I say”).
• Demystifies academic writing, showing students “the moves that matter” in language they can readily apply.
• Provides user-friendly templates to help writers make those moves in their own writing.
• Shows that reading is a way of entering a conversation—not just of passively absorbing information but of understanding and actively entering dialogues and debates.
how this book came to be
The original idea for this book grew out of our shared inter- est in democratizing academic culture. First, it grew out of arguments that Gerald Graff has been making throughout his career that schools and colleges need to invite students into the conversations and debates that surround them. More spe- cifically, it is a practical, hands-on companion to his recent book Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind, in which he looks at academic conversations from the perspective of those who find them mysterious and proposes ways in which such mystification can be overcome. Second,
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this book grew out of writing templates that Cathy Birkenstein developed in the 1990s for use in writing and literature courses she was teaching. Many students, she found, could readily grasp what it meant to support a thesis with evidence, to entertain a counter argument, to identify a textual contradiction, and ultimately to summarize and respond to challenging arguments, but they often had trouble putting these concepts into practice in their own writing. When Cathy sketched out templates on the board, however, giving her students some of the language and patterns that these sophisticated moves require, their writing—and even their quality of thought—significantly improved. This book began, then, when we put our ideas together and realized that these templates might have the potential to open up and clarify academic conversation. We proceeded from the premise that all writers rely on certain stock formulas that they themselves didn’t invent—and that many of these formulas are so commonly used that they can be represented in model templates that students can use to structure and even generate what they want to say. As we developed a working draft of this book, we began using it in first-year writing courses that we teach at UIC. In class- room exercises and writing assignments, we found that students who otherwise struggled to organize their thoughts, or even to think of something to say, did much better when we provided them with templates like the following.
j In discussions of , a controversial issue is whether
. While some argue that , others contend
j This is not to say that .
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One virtue of such templates, we found, is that they focus writers’ attention not just on what is being said, but on the forms that structure what is being said. In other words, they make students more conscious of the rhetorical patterns that are key to academic success but often pass under the classroom radar.
the centrality of “they say / i say”
The central rhetorical move that we focus on in this book is the “they say / I say” template that gives our book its title. In our view, this template represents the deep, underlying structure, the internal DNA as it were, of all effective argument. Effective persuasive writers do more than make well-supported claims (“I say”); they also map those claims relative to the claims of others (“they say”). Here, for example, the “they say / I say” pattern structures a passage from an essay by the media and technology critic Steven Johnson.
For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass cul- ture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common- denominator standards, presumably because the “masses” want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But . . . the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.
Steven Johnson, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter”
In generating his own argument from something “they say,” Johnson suggests why he needs to say what he is saying: to correct a popular misconception.
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Even when writers do not explicitly identify the views they are responding to, as Johnson does, an implicit “they say” can often be discerned, as in the following passage by Zora Neale Hurston.
I remember the day I became colored. Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”
In order to grasp Hurston’s point here, we need to be able to reconstruct the implicit view she is responding to and question- ing: that racial identity is an innate quality we are simply born with. On the contrary, Hurston suggests, our race is imposed on us by society—something we “become” by virtue of how we are treated. As these examples suggest, the “they say / I say” model can improve not just student writing, but student reading compre- hension as well. Since reading and writing are deeply recipro- cal activities, students who learn to make the rhetorical moves represented by the templates in this book figure to become more adept at identifying these same moves in the texts they read. And if we are right that effective arguments are always in dialogue with other arguments, then it follows that in order to understand the types of challenging texts assigned in college, students need to identify the views to which those texts are responding. Working with the “they say / I say” model can also help with invention, finding something to say. In our experience, students best discover what they want to say not by thinking about a subject in an isolation booth, but by reading texts, listening closely to what other writers say, and looking for an opening through which they can enter the conversation. In other words, listening closely to others and summarizing what they have to say can help writers generate their own ideas.
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the usefulness of templates
Our templates also have a generative quality, prompting stu- dents to make moves in their writing that they might not oth- erwise make or even know they should make. The templates in this book can be particularly helpful for students who are unsure about what to say, or who have trouble finding enough to say, often because they consider their own beliefs so self-evident that they need not be argued for. Students like this are often helped, we’ve found, when we give them a simple tem- plate like the following one for entertaining a counterargument (or planting a naysayer, as we call it in Chapter 6).
j Of course some might object that . Although I concede
that , I still maintain that .
What this particular template helps students do is make the seemingly counterintuitive move of questioning their own beliefs, of looking at them from the perspective of those who disagree. In so doing, templates can bring out aspects of stu- dents’ thoughts that, as they themselves sometimes remark, they didn’t even realize were there. Other templates in this book help students make a host of sophisticated moves that they might not otherwise make: sum- marizing what someone else says, framing a quotation in one’s own words, indicating the view that the writer is responding to, marking the shift from a source’s view to the writer’s own view, offering evidence for that view, entertaining and answering counterarguments, and explaining what is at stake in the first place. In showing students how to make such moves, templates do more than organize students’ ideas; they help bring those ideas into existence.
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We are aware, of course, that some instructors may have res- ervations about templates. Some, for instance, may object that such formulaic devices represent a return to prescriptive forms of instruction that encourage passive learning or lead students to put their writing on automatic pilot. This is an understandable reaction, we think, to kinds of rote instruction that have indeed encouraged passivity and drained writing of its creativity and dynamic relation to the social world. The trouble is that many students will never learn on their own to make the key intellectual moves that our templates repre- sent. While seasoned writers pick up these moves unconsciously through their reading, many students do not. Consequently, we believe, students need to see these moves represented in the explicit ways that the templates provide. The aim of the templates, then, is not to stifle critical thinking but to be direct with students about the key rhetori- cal moves that it comprises. Since we encourage students to modify and adapt the templates to the particularities of the arguments they are making, using such prefabricated formulas as learning tools need not result in writing and thinking that are themselves formulaic. Admittedly, no teaching tool can guarantee that students will engage in hard, rigorous thought. Our templates do, however, provide concrete prompts that can stimulate and shape such thought: What do “they say” about my topic? What would a naysayer say about my argument? What is my evidence? Do I need to qualify my point? Who cares? In fact, templates have a long and rich history. Public orators from ancient Greece and Rome through the European Renais- sance studied rhetorical topoi or “commonplaces,” model passages and formulas that represented the different strategies available
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to public speakers. In many respects, our templates echo this classical rhetorical tradition of imitating established models. The journal Nature requires aspiring contributors to follow a guideline that is like a template on the opening page of their manuscript: “Two or three sentences explaining what the main result [of their study] reveals in direct comparison with what was thought to be the case previously, or how the main result adds to previous knowledge.” In the field of education, a form designed by the education theorist Howard Gardner asks postdoctoral fellowship applicants to complete the following template: “Most scholars in the field believe . As a result of my study,
.” That these two examples are geared toward post- doctoral fellows and veteran researchers shows that it is not only struggling undergraduates who can use help making these key rhetorical moves, but experienced academics as well. Templates have even been used in the teaching of personal narrative. The literary and educational theorist Jane Tompkins devised the following template to help student writers make the often difficult move from telling a story to explaining what it means: “X tells a story about to make the point that
. My own experience with yields a point that is similar/different/both similar and different. What I take away from my own experience with is . As a result, I conclude .” We especially like this template because it suggests that “they say / I say” argument need not be mechanical, impersonal, or dry, and that telling a story and mak- ing an argument are more compatible activities than many think.
why it’s okay to use “i”
But wait—doesn’t the “I” part of “they say / I say” flagrantly encourage the use of the first-person pronoun? Aren’t we aware
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that some teachers prohibit students from using “I” or “we,” on the grounds that these pronouns encourage ill-considered, subjective opinions rather than objective and reasoned argu- ments? Yes, we are aware of this first-person prohibition, but we think it has serious flaws. First, expressing ill-considered, subjective opinions is not necessarily the worst sin beginning writers can commit; it might be a starting point from which they can move on to more reasoned, less self-indulgent perspectives. Second, prohibiting students from using “I” is simply not an effective way of curbing students’ subjectivity, since one can offer poorly argued, ill-supported opinions just as easily without it. Third and most important, prohibiting the first person tends to hamper students’ ability not only to take strong positions but to differentiate their own positions from those of others, as we point out in Chapter 5. To be sure, writers can resort to vari- ous circumlocutions—“it will here be argued,” “the evidence suggests,” “the truth is”—and these may be useful for avoid- ing a monotonous series of “I believe” sentences. But except for avoiding such monotony, we see no good reason why “I” should be set aside in persuasive writing. Rather than prohibit “I,” then, we think a better tactic is to give students practice at using it well and learning its use, both by supporting their claims with evidence and by attending closely to alternative perspectives—to what “they” are saying.
how this book is organized
Because of its centrality, we have allowed the “they say / I say” format to dictate the structure of this book. So while Part 1 addresses the art of listening to others, Part 2 addresses how to offer one’s own response. Part 1 opens with a chapter on
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“Starting with What Others Are Saying” that explains why it is generally advisable to begin a text by citing others rather than plunging directly into …