Posted in English 1103, Teaching

ENG 1103: A Starting Point for Analysis

Introducing Sources with Signal Phrases

Today in class, you identified one of the ideas expressed by three of the education experts featured in Matt Richtel’s article “Blogs vs. Term Papers”: Douglas B. Reeves, William H. Fitzhugh, and Andrea A. Lunsford. Collaboratively, you paraphrased each idea in a sentence that began with the person’s name and credential. As a model, I offered the example below.

Example: Professor Cathy N. Davidson of the City University of New York maintains that blogging offers students a more relevant alternative to the traditional term paper (ctd. in Richtel).

The abbreviation “ctd.” lets readers know that the idea is cited, or mentioned, in Matt Richtel’s article.

Indirect Quotations

If I had quoted Davidson, rather than paraphrasing her, the abbreviation “qtd.,” for “quoted,” would appear in parentheses to indicate that I quoted Davidson. Both a paraphrase of Davidson’s words drawn from Richtel’s article, and a direct quotation of her words drawn from Richtel’s article are referred to as indirect quotations because Davidson is a source who is cited or quoted in another source (Richtel).

In our discussion of Richtel’s article, I noted that Davidson was a professor at Duke at the time the article was published in The New York Times. One student asked how a writer should address such a change. One option is an explanatory endnote; you can also include it in the sentence itself, as I do in the example that follows.

Example: As a professor at Duke, Cathy N. Davidson turned to blogs to offer students a more relevant alternative to the traditional term paper (ctd. in Richtel). Now at the City University of New York, she continues to embrace new technologies.

When to Paraphrase, When to Quote

I could have asked you to quote Reeves, Fitzhugh, and Lunsford, but putting their ideas into your own words requires more thought, and more specifically moves you closer to analysis. As the authors of your textbook note: “You will almost invariably begin to interpret a source once you start paraphrasing its key language” (Rosenwasser and Stephen 221).

Summary and Analysis

A summary objectively presents key points; it answers the question, what is it? An analysis answers the questions, what does it mean, and how is its meaning constructed?

Here is the summary that I wrote in my notebook after I read Matt Richtel’s article.

In “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” Matt Richtel reports on the debate in higher education on how best to teach writing in the digital age. While some professors have followed the lead of City University of New York’s Cathy Davidson, replacing the traditional term paper with shorter, more frequent blog assignments, their detractors—including Douglas B. Reeves, columnist for The American School Board Journal and William H. Fitzhugh, editor of The Concord Review—argue that blog writing lacks the academic rigor that fosters critical thinking. For Andrea Lunsford, professor of writing at Stanford University, pitting blogs against term papers creates a false opposition. Rather than replacing term papers with blog posts, Lunsford requires students to produce multi-modal assignments: term papers that evolve into blogs, websites, and video presentations.

Summarizing the key points of the article led me to think about the article’s structure, how Richtel presents Davidson’s ideas followed by Reeves’ and Fitzhugh’s, returns to Davidson’s, introduces Lunsford’s, and ends by returning again to Davidson’s. In the 9:15 class we considered this possible interpretation of Richtel’s choices:

  • By devoting more of his article to Davidson’s and Lunsford’s practices–and ultimately giving Davidson the last word–Matt Richtel reveals that he favors their approaches to teaching writing over the ideas advocated by Reeves and Fitzhugh.

In the 10:40 class, we considered that interpretation as well as a second one:

  • Matt Richtel devotes more of his article to Davidson’s and Lunsford’s practices–and ultimately gives Davidson the last word–because she and Lundsford are innovators. Richtel doesn’t need to detail ideas that are already familiar to his readers.

Both are valid claims; the success of either depends on how effectively the writer presents evidence as support.

Logical Fallacies

Richtel’s article “Blogs vs. Term Papers” mentions two common types of logical fallacies to avoid:

  • Reductio ad absurdum is a form of the straw man argument. It involves oversimplifying an opponent’s argument by reducing it to an absurdity.
  • False opposition or false dichotomy implies that two possibilities are mutually exclusive. Richtel’s headline–in all likelihood written by a copy editor rather than himself–indicates a false dichotomy. (A term paper can be presented as a blog post.) False opposition is one form of hasty generalization.

For more on logical fallacies, see Writing Analytically, 93-97.

Next Up

This Friday, August 27, will mark the first of our weekly Wordplay Days. To prepare for class, read the Scrabble Rules and review the Ground Rules for Wordplay posted on Blackboard (and below). To up your game, browse the Scrabble site’s Tips and Tools.

Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Matters of Style

This blog post presents information about last week’s cyber incident at GTCC, but that isn’t the main purpose of the post. Instead, I’ve chosen to return to the news coverage of the event as an opportunity to examine some of the differences between newspaper style, often AP (Associated Press), and MLA (Modern Language Association) style, used in many sections of English 111 and other courses in the humanities.

Capitalization in Titles

Notice that only the first word of the headline is capitalized. Many news publications capitalize only the first word and proper nouns (names) in titles. In MLA style, all of the words in a title are capitalized except articles (aanthe), prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and the to infinitives—unless the word is first or last in the title or subtitle.

Newspaper style: Network incident forces security closure.

MLA: Network Incident Forces Security Closure.

MLA style includes the serial comma (the comma before and in a series), and in MLA style, no space appears before or after a dash.

AP: In addition, these three technologies — WebAdvisor, Navigate and Financial Self-Service — will not be available until further notice.

MLA: In addition, these three technologies—WebAdvisor, Navigate, and Financial Self-Service—will not be available until further notice.

Signal Phrases with Quotations

In MLA style, quotations are introduced with signal phrases. Dialogue in personal essays is an exception to this rule. You do not have to introduce a line of dialogue in a personal essay, such as a literacy narrative.

Newspaper style: “Out of an abundance of caution, the college took all critical systems offline around 4 p.m. Sunday,” GTCC spokesperson Aleasha Kivett said.

MLA: GTCC spokesperson Aleasha Kivett said: “Out of an abundance of caution, the college took all critical systems offline around 4 p.m. Sunday.”

For more on these MLA matters of style, see A Writer’s Reference.

  • capitalization in titles (396)
  • dashes (285)
  • serial commas (260-61)
  • signal phrases with quotations (377-78)

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 011/111: Educated, Chapters 25-28

Reading your textual analyses demonstrated that an exercise in integrating quotations would be a valuable follow-up assignment. In academic writing, sentences never begin with quotations. Instead, they’re introduced with signal phrases, such as these:

  • According to Tara Westover,
  • Tara Westover writes that
  • In Westover’s words,

As an example for the comment you will post this week, I have turned back to the comment that Madison wrote last week. First, here is her comment as it appears word for word:

Deep down, past her internal struggle of accepting vulnerability, Westover realizes that she, too, has her own voice. This is revealed in her conflicting journal entries where she writes about a violent event involving Shawn assaulting her and her uncertainty about what to think about it. She bounces back and forth between reasoning that the attack was her fault and Shawn being in the wrong. Her doubt is disclosed as a turning point in the perceiving of her thoughts compared to her family’s.

Here’s my revised version, which introduces three lines from the end of the chapter:

Deep down, past her internal struggle of accepting vulnerability, Westover realizes that she, too, has her own voice. This is revealed in her conflicting journal entries where she writes about a violent event involving Shawn assaulting her and her uncertainty about what to think about it. She bounces back and forth between reasoning that the attack was her fault and Shawn being in the wrong. Readers witness her predicament as she reflects on her journal entries. In Westover’s words, “[t]he second entry would not obscure the words of the first. Both would remain, my memories set down alongside his. There was a boldness in not editing for consistency” (197). The bold act of writing her own memory to counter Shawn’s serves as a turning point, a place where her perceptions diverge from her family’s.

What I’ve done with Madison’s comment is what I’m asking you to do with your own response to a passage in our reading for this week.

Directions

  1. Write a short response to a passage in Chapter 25, 26, 27, or 28 of Educated.
  2. Include in your response a short quotation with a signal phrase and a parenthetical citation.
  3. If you name Westover in the signal phrase, include only the page number (216).
  4. If you do not name Westover in the signal phrase, include her last name (Westover 216). Note that there’s no comma or page abbreviation.
  5. Post your comment/reply no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8.

For more information on signal phrases, see The Norton Field Guide to Writing and (551-57) and OWL‘s Signal and Lead-in Phrases page.

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.

Works Cited

Seagle, Madison. Comment on “ENG 011/111: Educated, Chapter 22.” Jane Lucas, 31 Mar. 2020, 11:36 a.m., https://janelucas.com/2020/03/30/eng-011-101-educated-chapter-22/#comments. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

Westover, Tara. Educated. Random House, 2018.