Due Monday, September 26 (Revision due Wednesday, October 12)
Write a 2-3 page summary of Jane Tompkins’ essay “Masterpiece Theater.” (See related handout “Summarizing” for assistance.) Your essay should make clear Tompkins’ central argumentative claim (a.k.a. thesis) and present the key steps of her argument as she persuades her reader to share her view. You should imagine yourself as presenting Tompkins’ argument, in brief, to a reader who is unfamiliar with it.
In this case, I will be most interested in two features of your writing: how it represents your reading of Tompkins’ essay, and how it explains the subject to the reader. Your summary should demonstrate a thorough understanding of Tompkins’ essay, even as it must inevitably “leave out” much of the original argument. In other words, everything you say about Tompkins’ essay should be in line with her overall argument, and not present certain pieces of her argument in a way that contradicts other things she says in her essay. In this way, it should be faithful to your subject. Your summary should also be faithful to your reader, carefully taking him or her through the main features of Tompkins’ argument in a way that can be easily followed.
As this is a formal writing assignment, I will also pay close attention to the way you choose to structure your summary, the organization of your ideas, the clarity of your sentences, and the imaginative way you go about communicating with your reader.
A summary should make reference only very rarely to the original text’s evidence or examples; use these only when needed to explain a concept likely to be difficult or unfamiliar to your reader. (This means you will only very rarely quote from Tompkins’ essay.)
Remember to imagine a reader who has not read Tompkins’ essay and is depending upon you to provide a fair and clear description of Tompkins’ argument.
In class we will analyze Tompkins’ essay as part of our ongoing discussion on Authority, and we will discuss summarizing strategies as well.
Schedule for submission and revision:
- You will turn in your essay on Monday, Sept. 26 at 9 a.m., in OAKS, to be graded. (We will go over the process for submission in class before the due date.)
- I will grade and return the essays to you by Sunday, Oct. 2, in OAKS.
- In class on Wednesday, Sept. 28 you will workshop your essays with your fellow students (so be sure to bring two copies of your essay that day) and then will revise them in light of that discussion and subsequent consideration on your part.
- You will have a revision meeting with me outside of class on the 3rd or 5th, where you will present your plan for revising your essay and I will offer guidance in the process. You may bring a revised introduction, or body paragraph, or entire essay; we will discuss whatever materials you bring.
- Revisions will be due on Wednesday, October 12 at 9 a.m., in OAKS. The final grade for the assignment will be the average of this grade and the grade on your first version. It will count for 10% of your overall course grade.