This page For every assigned reading, please bring to class a half-page response.
As part of my
semester-long goal to help you develop the skills to contribute to a
productive in-class discussion of an assigned reading, I will look for
each of the following sections:
- A brief summary of the author's main point.
(You won't need to outline every subsection or memorize all the names and facts for a quiz; you will need to demonstrate that you have read and understood the material, so writing down details that help you identify the author's controlling opinion is a good place to start.)
- A quotation (with the page number) that raises an original point.
(Try to go beyond simply spotting a surprising fact, or a claim that you agree with or disagree with; look for a specific passage that made you think, and thus expanded your mind.)
- Your opinion about the point mentioned in #2. (Here is where you use the "Active Reading" strategies described on pages 10-15 of Rereading America.)
(Why did you choose it? How does it relate to the author's main idea? Practice articulating your opinion, so that you'll be able to write persuasively about it.)
- A question about the reading, that you would like to discuss in class.
(If you practice coming up with good discussion questions now, it will be easier later on when you need to come up with your own paper topics, research questions, and thesis statements.)
|In the essay "The Full Title of an Essay Fills Lots of Space" by Maxwell Wordsworth Fuller, it talks about how easy it is to bury your own thoughts when you introduce quotes in inefficient ways. In a passage on page 128, Fuller writes, "Keep in mind that your instructor wants to evaluate your own thoughts, not your ability to quote somebody else's thoughts, so quote just the juiciest, most meaning-laden passages from your sources, and use the brief MLA style parenthetic citation, rather than spelling out the full title and the full name of your source." This quote shows how important it is to cite your sources efficiently.|
The author of the above passage uses a wordy, wasteful formula that includes
|Citing your sources in proper MLA style can help you focus tightly on making an argument. Because "your instructor wants to evaluate your own thoughts," you can "quote just the juiciest, most meaning-laden passages from your sources" (Fuller 128). Efficient citations will let you "spread your intellectual wings a little wider" (Jones 213), because you'll have more room to make "the kind of connections your instructor expects to see in successful academic writing" (Lee 43). While learning the details of MLA style may feel like a pain, the space it saves gives you room to demonstrate your true strengths as a writer.|
In about 102 words, the author of the above passage has introduced brief quotes from three different sources, using those brief quotations to help present a claim about MLA style. The quotations exist in order to support a claim that is related to the readings, but can't be found, in its full form, in any one source.
The second passage uses sources to support an argument, while the first passage simply cites sources mechanically, as part of a formula that produces a lot of words.