Audio Version (June 2020):
In Chapter 2 we discussed strategies for understanding the reading by identifying the claims presented and mapping how they work together. Chapter 3 will focus on how to use this understanding to describe the argument in our own words. Such a description is called a summary, and it forms part of most college writing assignments. In some cases, the summary will be the entire essay. We may be given a page or word count range, which might be as short as a paragraph or as long as several pages. More frequently, the summary will be the starting point; a summary in the introduction or in the first page or two will serve to launch a discussion of our own opinion. In either case, we can use the summary strategies below to create a coherent chunk of writing that will give the reader a clear picture of the text we are analyzing.
The argument map can guide us as we write the summary. To make the map, we have already had to choose what to leave out and what to emphasize. We have already shown what role each claim plays in the overall argument. Now, instead of colors and arrows and labels like “claim” and “reason,” we will use strategic phrases to show how the parts fit together. As we choose words to paraphrase a writer’s points, we will want to reread the text to see how strongly the writer suggests something or what attitude they take toward a counterargument. Thus the process of writing a summary helps us get even clearer about the writer’s intentions and implications than we would in mapping out an argument. Ultimately, it will prepare us to comment, critique and respond more effectively, as we will see in Chapter 4, "Assessing the Strength of an Argument."
- 3.1: Introducing the Argument and the Main Claim
- We can introduce an argument and describe its main claim with common phrases chosen to reflect the writer’s purpose.
- 3.2: Describing the Reasoning
- A summary can use typical phrases to point out the reasons an argument gives for its main claims.
- 3.3: Describing How the Author Treats Counterarguments
- We can choose our wording in the summary to show the argument’s attitude toward any counterarguments it mentions.
- 3.4: Describing How the Author Limits the Claim
- The summary should reflect any limits the argument has put on its claims.
- 3.5: Putting the Summary Together
- We can combine our descriptions of the main claim, reasons, counterarguments, and limits into a summary essay.
- 3.7: Comparing and Contrasting Arguments
- To compare two different arguments in an essay, we can start by summarizing each. Then we can use common phrases to show their key similarities and differences.
- 3.9: Summary Template Phrases
- A list of all the summary templates discussed in this chapter.
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