Short Written Assignments: Summaries, Quotes, or Analyses
You'll sometimes be asked to write something short on what you've read.
(This is usually done as an alternative to my giving you a quiz on the reading—although
I won't promise you that they'll be no quiz if there's a
short written assignment.)
Here are the "types" of things I might ask for:
If I ask you turn in a summary of a reading, I'm asking for a
short synopsis of the article's main point.
Tell me what the author is saying. Don't tell me whether you agree or
disagree; just summarize, cogently, what you think is the
most important belief that the author puts forward.
The right way to write a summary is to read an article in its entirety,
put it aside, and then explain what it says. However, you
may wish to quote a sentence or phrase in your summaries.
Please do not provide me a bulleted list of notes in abbreviated English; I want
to read a brief but thoughtful piece of prose.
If I ask you turn in a quotes from a reading, I'm asking for a
list of interesting short quotes from the reading. Choose about five quotes.
Give the page reference. I am looking for particularly well-written and
insightful statements. You can redact a sentence for clarity or concision;
use an ellipses. If something elided needs to be put in for understandability,
put it in brackets.
You should choose your quotes with care; if you grab "random" sentences
I won't be pleased.
If I ask you to turn in an analysis of a reading, I'm asking for your
own, personal take on it. Do you agree or disagree? With what? Is the
author trying to deceive with rhetoric? Is the author an idiot? A genius?
A jerk? How does it relate to other things you have read or know?
What is the fundamental value, or lack of value, in the work?
Unless told otherwise, summaries, quotes, and analyses should be
about one page. Please make sure to typeset what you turn in.
Note that I definitely do care about the quality of your writing
even when it's just a short thing you're turning in.
Remember too, from the course information sheet, that I'm always happy for things to be
in LaTeX (but this is not a requirement), and you really should not
use Arial font or anything else comparably ugly. (Be nice; I have to read 45 of these