They SayI say By Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein AP Language and Composition Mariana Hughes
Rationale for Text • “Intellectual writing is almost always composed in response to others’ texts. • AP Assessment • “Students need to understand the “moves that matter” in language they can readily apply.”
“I know what I mean… but I can’t get it on the paper” • Disconnect exists… Solution? • You have skills to comprehend, summarize, analyze, etc. • Problem arises when you have to do many of these together in your own writing. • Templates can help!
Sample Template: • In discussions of ------, a controversial issue is whether ------- or --------. While some argue that ----, others contend that -----. That is not to say that ----. • What do they/I say in the following? • For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward the 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”
Sample Template: • Sometimes the author response is to views that they do not identify explicitly. • “I remember the day I became colored.” Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”
Sample Template: • “Of course some object that -----. Although I concede -----, I still maintain that ----. • What does a writer accomplish through this template? • Templates do not have to be used word for word… It is a framework…
Some Important “Moves” in Writing • Summarizing • Framing quotations in your own words • Indicating the view that the writer is responding to • Marking a shift from a source’s view to the writer’s view, offering evidence, entertaining counter arguments.
Some templates to summarize • Many Americans assume that ----. • On the one hand----. On the other hand----. • I agree that ----.
Example from Letter from Birmingham Jail • “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concerns for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.” • Look back at text… Do you see his rhetorical pattern? They say/ I say?
Example • “My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the former World Trade Center, thinks we should fly the American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. Katha Pollitt, “Put Out No Flags” Who is the “they” in this example?
Example • “I like to think I have a certain advantage as a teacher of literature because when I was growing up, I disliked and feared books.” Gerald Graff, “Disliking Books at an Early Age”
Editorial Example • “If ever there were a newspaper headline custom-made for Jay Leno’s monologue, this was it. Kids taking on McDonald’s this week, suing the company for making them fat. Isn’t that like middle aged men suing Porche for making them get speeding tickets? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I tend to sympathize with these portly fast-food patrons, though. Maybe because I used to be one of them. - David Zincezenko, “Don’t Blame the eater”
Practice • Write a short intro that responds to the author’s rationale for using templates. Use the They say/ I say format.
Importance of summary • Clarifies topic • Gives you a frame for your discussion • Gives evidence of your careful reading
Orwell • “Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English Language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language--- so the argument runs---must inevitably share in the general collapse… • [But] the process is reversible. Modern English.. Is full of bad habits…which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. • ---George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”
Dangers of summary • Reducing author’s ideas to a cliché that you know of… • Too much summary • Not enough summary
Keep your reader aware of your purpose! • Use return sentences to cue your reader…
Examples for AP • Defending authors claims: • “She argues ---, and I agree because---. • Her argument that ---is supported by new research showing that -----. • Qualifying: • “He claims that ---, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I agree that ---. On the other hand I insist that ----.