Posted in English 1103, Teaching

ENG 1103: More than “Skim Reading . . .”

On Monday, after reviewing the material we covered in the first week of the course, we turned our attention to the newspaper column that you read for class, “Skim Reading is the New Normal,” by Maryanne Wolf, Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

Although Wolf’s Guardian column, like Matt Richtel’s article “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” is a newspaper piece, it is not a work of objective reporting. Rather than reporting on the ideas of researchers, educators, and consultants, as Richtel does in The New York Times, Wolf presents the findings of linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists whose recent work supports her claim that “[w]e need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a ‘bi-literate brain’ reading brain capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums.”

Exposition, Analysis, and Argument

Matt Richel’s article “Blogs vs. Term Papers” is exposition; it’s primary aim is to convey information. Wolf’s column is an argument. In our textbook, Writing Analytically, the authors offer this explanation of the difference between analysis and argument: The claim that an analysis makes is often the answer to the question, what does it mean? The claim that an argument makes “is often an answer to a should question” (Rosenwasser and Stephen 7-8). Similarly, Wolf’s argument is the answer to a need question. Her answer is “[w]e need to cultivate a new kind of brain.”

Matters of Style

  • In newspaper headlines, only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  • In MLA (Modern Language Association) style, all words except articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and the to in infinitives are capitalized—unless the word is the first or last in the title or subtitle.
  • Newspaper articles include a space before and after the em dash.
  • MLA style includes no space before and after the em dash.

For more examples of documentation style, see OWL, Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, and Writing Analytically, 255-63.

Next Up

In class on Wednesday, I will distribute copies of two sample introductory posts for us to examine before we turn our attention to your own blogs.

Works Cited

Rosenwasser, David and Jill Stephen. Writing Analytically, 8th edition. Wadsworth/Cengage, 2019. 

Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim Reading is the New Normal. The Effect on Society is Profound.” The Guardian, 25 Aug. 2018,

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