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They Say, I Say :. The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. By Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein. Introduction. Academic writing requires to express themselves and respond to others

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they say i say

They Say, I Say:

The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing

By Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

  • Academic writing requires to express themselves and respond to others
  • Effective writers do more than make claims (“I say”); they also map those claims relative to the claims of others (“They say”)
  • Writing as series of moves
  • Seasoned writers do these naturally… templates help the rest of us learn them explicitly!
  • To help you become a critical, intellectual thinker who can participate in conversations in a meaningful way.

“You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, as discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about… You listen for a while, until you decide you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you… The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress”

-Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form

1 starting with what others are saying
1: Starting with What Others are Saying
  • Most importantly: writing needs a point
  • Not only your point, but what larger conversation your thesis is responding to
  • Must come first
  • Best to state your position and the one you’re responding to ASAP. Elaborate later!
  • Always keep what “they say” connected in your essay… gives you a sense of mission and urgency
1 starting with what others are saying1
1: Starting with What Others are Saying
  • Introduce standard views
    • Conventional wisdom has it that…
  • Introduce something implied or assumed
    • Although X doesn’t say so directly, she apparently assumes that….
  • Introduce ongoing debate
    • On the one hand…. On the other hand…. Others even maintain… My own view is…
1 starting with what others are saying exercise 1
1: Starting with What Others are SayingExercise 1

The following claims all provide an “I Say.” See if you can supply a plausible “They Say.” What might these be responding to?

  • Our experiments suggest that there are dangerous levels of Chemical X in the Ohio groundwater.
  • My own view is that this novel has certain flaws.
  • Football is so boring.
  • I’m afraid that templates like the ones in this book will stifle my creativity.
2 the art of summarizing
2: The Art of Summarizing
  • Central tool
  • Balance between the original author and your thoughts
  • Theory: “The Believing Game” (Peter Elbow)
  • Try to inhabit their worldview– readers shouldn’t be able to tell whether you agree or disagree
2 the art of summarizing1
2: The Art of Summarizing
  • Read what Zinczenko says
  • In his article, “Don’t Blame the Eater,” David Zinczenko accuses the fast food companies of an evil conspiracy to make people fat. I disagree because these companies have to make money.
  • Natural to summarize others quickly, but be fair
  • Avoid “closest cliché syndrome”
  • Entering conversation: study very closely and not collapse it into something you have already heard or know
2 the art of summarizing2
2: The Art of Summarizing
  • But remember, your goal is your own response
  • Summary has to fit your agenda, while still being true to the text

In his article “Don’t Blame the Eater,” David Zinczenko argues that today’s fast food chains fill the nutritional void in children’s lives left by their overtaxed working parents. With many parents working long hours and unable to supervise what their children eat, Zinczenko claims, children today regularly turn to low-cost, calorie-laden foods that the fast food chains are all too eager to supply. When he himself was a young boy, for instance, and his single mother was away at work, he ate at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and other chains on a regular basis and ended up overweight. Zinczenko’s hope is that with the new spate of lawsuits against the food industry, other children with working parents will have healthier choices available to them, and they will not, like him, become obese.

In my view, however, it is the parents, and not the food chains who are responsible for their children’s obesity. While it is true that many of today’s parents work long hours, there are still several things that parents can do to guarantee that their children eat healthy foods.

2 the art of summarizing3
2: The Art of Summarizing
  • Fair summary, but also points toward the second paragraph: the writer’s thesis
  • Make sure your “they say” and “I say” are well matched
  • Avoid LIST summaries

Bottom line:

Summarize the author’s views accurately, in a way that fits your own agenda. DO NOT, however, ignore or misrepresent the source.

2 the art of summarizing4
2: The Art of Summarizing
  • Signal verbs that fit
  • Authors don’t “say” or “discuss”
  • They “urge” “emphasize” and “insist on”
  • Vivid and precise
  • She demonstrates that…
  • In fact, they celebrate the fact that…
  • _______, he admits.

Expressing Agreement

    • Acknowledge
    • Admire
    • Agree
    • Celebrate the fact that
    • Corroborate
    • Do not deny
    • Endorse
    • Extol
    • Praise
    • Reaffirm
    • Support
    • Verify
  • Making a claim
    • Argue
    • Insist
    • Assert
    • Believe
    • Claim
    • Emphasize
    • Observe
    • Remind us
    • Report
    • Suggest

Making Recommendations

    • Advocate
    • Call for
    • Demand
    • Encourage
    • Exhort
    • Implore
    • Plead
    • Recommend
    • Urge
    • Warn
  • Questioning or Disagreeing
    • Complain
    • Complicate
    • Contend
    • Contradict
    • Deny
    • Deplore
    • Disavow
    • Question
    • Refute
    • Reject
    • Renounce
    • Repudiate
2 the art of summarizing exercise 2
2: The Art of SummarizingExercise 2
  • To get a feel for Peter Elbow’s “believing game,” write a summary of some belief that you strongly disagree with. Then write a summary of the position that you actually hold on the topic. Give both summaries to a classmate and see if they can tell which position you endorse. If you’ve succeeded, they won’t be able to tell!
2 the art of summarizing exercise 3
2: The Art of SummarizingExercise 3
  • Write two different one paragraph summaries of David Zinczenko’s “Don’t Blame the Eater.”
    • Write the first one for an essay arguing that, contrary to what Zinczenko claims, there are inexpensive and convenient alternatives to fast food restaurants.
    • Write the second for an essay that agrees with Zinczenko in blaming fast food companies for youthful obesity, but questions his view tht bringing lawsuits against those companies is a legitimate response to the problem.
    • Compare the two; though they are of the same article, they should look very different!
3 the art of quoting
3: The Art of Quoting
  • Quoting gives credibility to your summary
  • Helps ensure that it is fair and accurate
  • Don’t quote too little/Don’t quote too much
  • Major problem: assuming the quotations speak for themselves
  • Orphan Quotations: they’ve been taken away from their contexts, and need to be integrated into their new surroundings
3 the art of quoting1
3: The Art of Quoting
  • Two ways to achieve this integration:
  • Choose quotations wisely
  • Surround every major quotation with a frame explaining whose words they are, what the quotation means and how the quotation relates to your text.

Quoting what THEY SAY must always be connected to what YOU SAY!!

3 the art of quoting2
3: The Art of Quoting

Choose Meaningful Passages

  • Have a sense of what you want to do with them
  • Make sure they are relevant to your work
  • Have a reason for saying it as a quote instead of a paraphrase.
  • If your text develops and they no longer fit, change the quotes
3 the art of quoting3
3: The Art of Quoting
  • Frame Every Quotation
  • Avoid “Hit and Run” quotes

Susan Bordo writes about women and dieting. “Fiji is just one example. Until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the united States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62% of the girls surveyed reported dieting.”

I think Bordo is right. Another point Bordo makes, is…

3 the art of quoting4
3: The Art of Quoting
  • Make a “quotation sandwich”
  • Lead-in claim: explain who is speaking and sets up the quote
  • Follow up explain why it’s important and what you take it to say, or have to say about it.
  • Accurately reflect the spirit of the passage
    • Not “Bordo states…” but “Bordo is alarmed that..”
  • See templates for Introducing Quotations
  • See templates for Explaining Quotations
3 the art of quoting5
3: The Art of Quoting

The feminist philosopher Susan Bordo deplores the hold that the Western obsession with dieting has on women. Her basic argument is that increasing numbers of women across the globe are being led to see themselves as fat and in need of a diet. Citing the island of Fiji as a case in point, Bordo notes that “Until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the united States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62% of the girls surveyed reported dieting.” Bordo’s point is that the West’s obsession with dieting is spreading even to remote places across the globe. Ultimately, Bordo complains, the culture of dieting will find you, regardless of where you live.

Bordo’s observations ring true to me because a friend of mine from a remote are in China speaks of the cult of dieting among young women there…

3 the art of quoting6
3: The Art of Quoting
  • Integrates, but also serves to demonstrate writer’s interpretation of Bordo
  • Show’s that the quote has been used meaningfully to set up writer’s argument.
  • Follow up sentences don’t repeat word-for-word: they echo while still moving in writer’s direction
  • Hybrid text
  • Remember: audience needs to see how YOU interpret the text (quotes can be interpreted differently to support different agendas)
3 the art of quoting exercise 4
3: The Art of QuotingExercise 4

Find a text that quotes someone’s exact words as evidence of something “they say.” How has the writer integrated the quotation into his or her own text? How has he or she introduced it and what, if anything, has the writer said to explain it and tie it to his or her own text? Based on what you’ve read in this chapter, are there any changes you would suggest?

3 the art of quoting exercise 5
3: The Art of QuotingExercise 5

Look at an essay or report that you have written for one of your classes (Summer Synthesis Essay and/or Adversity Argument Essay!) Highlight your quotes/summaries in one color, your explanation/ connection in a second, and introductory information in a third.

How have you integrated the quotation into your own text? How have you introduced it? Explained what it means? Indicated how it relates to your text?

Write a paragraph of analysis about your quote integration.

4 three ways to respond
4: Three Ways to Respond
  • Problem: when writers take too long to declare their position relative to the views they’ve summarized/quoted
  • Frustrates readers
  • Complexity/Originality of you response more likely to be noticed
  • Direct, no-nonsense move to state your position clearly
4 three ways to respond1
4: Three Ways to Respond
  • I agree…
  • I disagree…
  • I am of two minds. I agree that… but I cannot agree that…
4 three ways to respond2
4: Three Ways to Respond

Disagree- and explain why

  • Poses hidden challenges
  • You have to offer persuasive reasons WHY
    • Because the argument fails to take relevant factors into account
    • Because it’s based on faulty or incomplete evidence
    • Because it rests on questionable assumptions
    • Because it uses flawed logic, is contradictory
    • Because it overlooks what you perceive to be the real issue
4 three ways to respond3
4: Three Ways to Respond
  • To move the conversation forward, you need to demonstrate that you yourself have something to contribute
  • “Duh move” - It is true that…; but we already knew that. (disagree with the assumption that it is new or stunning info)
  • “Twist-it move” – you agree with the evidence, but show a twist of logic that this evidence actually supports your own position
4 three ways to respond4
4: Three Ways to Respond

X argues for stricter gun control legislation, saying that the crime rate is on the rise and that we need to restrict the circulation of guns. I agree that the crime rate is on the rise, but that’s precisely why I oppose stricter gun control legislation. We need to own guns to protect ourselves against criminals.

  • It is better to state our disagreements in frank (yet considerate) ways than to deny them
  • There is usually no reason to take issue with every aspect of someone else’s views
4 three ways to respond5
4: Three Ways to Respond

Agree- but with a difference

  • You need to do more than simply echo views you agree with
  • Bring something new and fresh to the table
  • Be a valuable participant in the conversation
  • Point out some unnoticed evidence
  • Cite some corroborating personal experience
  • An accessible translation
4 three ways to respond6
4: Three Ways to Respond
  • See templates for agreeing
  • Sometimes don’t like to admit that someone else has already said something
  • As long as you can support a view without merely restating what he/she said
  • When agreeing with someone, you’re most likely disagreeing with someone else!!
4 three ways to respond7
4: Three Ways to Respond

Agree and Disagree Simultaneously

  • Helps us get beyond the “is not/is too” exchanges of immature argument
  • Enables your readers to place your argument on a “map” of the broader conversation
  • Keeps it sufficiently complex
  • Can be tipped subtly toward one side or the other
  • Templates for agreeing and disagreeing
4 three ways to respond8
4: Three Ways to Respond
  • Can be useful if unsure of your position
  • You need to be as clear as possible. Making a frank statement that you are ambivalent is one way to do that
  • If done correctly, admitting ambivalence does not make you wishy-washy.
  • Can show complex thinking
4 three ways to respond exercise 6
4: Three Ways to RespondExercise 6

Read the following passage by Jean Anyon, an education professor at Rutgers University, Newark. As you’ll see, she summarizes the arguments of several other authors before moving on to tell us what she thinks. Does she agree with those she summarizes, disagree, or some combination of both? How do you know?

4 three ways to respond exercise 7
4: Three Ways to RespondExercise 7

Read one of the essays at the back of this book (packet), underlining places where the author agrees with others, disagrees, or both.

5 distinguishing what you say from what they say
5: Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
  • Readers have to be able to tell at every point
  • Recognize such signals in reading
  • Voice-markers

We are all middle class. As a result, our class differences are muted and our collective character is homogenized.

Class divisions are real and arguably the most significant factor in determining both our very being in the world and the nature of the society we live in.

- Gregory Mantsios, “Rewards and Opportunities: The Politics and Economics of Class in the US”

5 distinguishing what you say from what they say1
5: Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
  • “or so it would seem” – shows that he doesn’t necessarily agree
  • Placed opening view in quotation marks
  • Distances himself – “our national consciousness”
  • “Yet”
  • Direct, authoritative, declarative tone (2nd par)
  • Need to be able to distinguish.
  • Look at previous paragraph without voice markers
5 distinguishing what you say from what they say2
5: Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
  • First person okay… as long as supported
  • Avoid “I think” “I believe” “I argue” repetitively
  • You can embed it into your own writing
  • Ex. Liberals believe that cultural differences need to be respected. I have a problem with this view, however.
  • Better Ex. I have a problem with what liberals call cultural differences.
  • Better Ex. There is a major problem with the liberal doctrine about so-called cultural differences
5 distinguishing what you say from what they say3
5: Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
  • Embedding references allow you to economize your train of thought and refer to other perspectives without any major interruption
5 distinguishing what you say from what they say exercise 8
5: Distinguishing What You Say from What They SayExercise 8
  • To see how one writer signals when she is asserting her own views and when she is summarizing those of someone else, read the following passage by the social historian Julie Charlip. As you do so, identify the spots where Charlip refers to the views of others and the signal phrases she uses to distinguish her view from theirs.
6 putting a naysayer in your text
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text
  • Writing actually improves when we give critics explicit hearing in our writing
  • Enhances your credibility
  • Engages others in a dialogue or debate
  • Pre-emptive strike
  • Shows respect for your readers
  • Come across as broad-minded and secure in your beliefs
6 putting a naysayer in your text1
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text
  • Templates for Entertaining Objections
  • Nameless vs. named
  • You can informally present skeptic as questions
  • You can informally present skeptic as directly speaking
6 putting a naysayer in your text2
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text

I like a couple of cigarettes or a cigar with a drink, and like many other people, I only smoke in bars or nightclubs. Now I can’t go to any of my old haunts. Bartenders who were friends have turned into cops, forcing me outside to shiver in the cold and curse under my breath… It’s no fun. Smokers are being demonized and victimized all out of proportion.

“Get over it,” say the anti-smokers. “You’re the minority.” I thought a great city was a place where all kinds of minorities could thrive… “Smoking kills,” they say. As an occasional smoker with otherwise healthy habits, I’ll take my chances. Health consciousness is important, but so are pleasure and freedom of choice.

6 putting a naysayer in your text3
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text
  • Be fair: Stay with your objections for several sentences
  • Answer objections: make sure counter-arg is not more convincing than your own
  • Make sure you can overcome them
  • Opportunity to revise and refine your own position
  • Don’t dismiss them out of hand
  • Agree with certain parts, while challenging only those you dispute
6 putting a naysayer in your text4
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text

“Admit it. You like yourself better when you’ve lost weight.”

Can I deny these things? No woman who has managed to lose weight would wish to argue with this. Most people feel better about themselves when they become slender. And yet, upon reflection, it seems to me that there is something precarious about this well-being. After all, 98 percent of people who lose weight gain it back. Indeed, 90 percent of those who have dieted “successfully” gain back more than they ever lost. Then, of course, we can no longer bear to look at ourselves in the mirror.

6 putting a naysayer in your text5
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your Text
  • Even as she concedes, she argues that in the long run the weight returns, making you more miserable
  • Combined version that incorporates elements of each
  • See templates for making concessions while still standing your ground
  • Combined versions are often the most productive and engaging
6 putting a naysayer in your text exercise 9
6: Putting a Naysayer in Your TextExercise 9
  • Read the following passage from the cultural critic Eric Schlosser. As you’ll see, he’s not planted any naysayers in this text. Do it for him. Insert a brief paragraph stating an objection to his argument and then responding to the objection as he might
8 connecting the parts
8: Connecting the Parts
  • Problem: when your sentences follow each other making no connection to what has just been said, or what is coming
  • Ex. Spot is a good dog. He has fleas.
  • Solution: converse not only with others, but with yourself
  • Conversations establish momentum and direction by making explicit connections
  • Metaphor: arms that reach backward and forward
8 connecting the parts1
8: Connecting the Parts
  • Transitions
  • Usually near beginning of sentences
  • Signal where text is going: same direction or new?
    • Echo previous sentiment (In other words…)
    • Adding something to it (In addition…)
    • Offering an example of it (For example…)
    • Generalizing from it (As a result…)
    • Modifying it (And yet…)
8 connecting the parts2
8: Connecting the Parts
  • See commonly used transitions
  • They should recede into the background
  • Don’t overuse them!
  • Make sure you’re using the right one
    • Therefore vs. Nevertheless
  • Pointing Words – have to point to something specific
    • This, that, these, those, their, such
    • His, he her, she, it, their
8 connecting the parts3
8: Connecting the Parts

Repeat Yourself – but with a difference

  • Say the same thing you’ve just said, but in a slightly different way
  • Avoid monotony
  • Build bridges
  • Echo, but simultaneously move into new territory
  • The girl loved basketball. Nevertheless, she feared her height would put her at a disadvantage
8 connecting the parts exercise 10
8: Connecting the PartsExercise 10
  • Read over something you’ve written with an eye for the devices you’ve used to connect the parts. Underline all the transitions, pointing terms, and repetition. Do you see any patterns? Do you rely on certain devices more than others? Are there any passages that are hard to follow-and if so, can you make them easier to ready by adding appropriate transitions or trying any of the other devices discussed in this chapter. Try revising your text to include different ones.