WRITING-ABOUT-TEXTS PROJECT

WRITING-ABOUT-TEXTS PROJECT
You will choose one text for this project. I have provided a number of possible texts in
Blackboard. If you wish to choose a different text, you must get prior approval.
Steps for completing the project

  1. “Listen/watch” the text. All the suggested texts have an audio and/or video version. First
    go through the text this way. Just listen/watch. Don’t worry about taking notes or even
    completing an assignment. (If thoughts or question do come to mind, you should stop the
    video and jot these down somewhere.) Note: if, after reviewing the text this way, you feel
    totally confused or uninterested, you should probably try a different text.
  2. At this point, you should be able to articulate the rhetorical context. Specifically, you
    should write down the purpose, audience, and genre of the text. (You may amend this
    later.)
  3. Now, it’s time to try to understand the structure of the text. To do this, print out the
    text and mark out sections and give a heading title to each (you can also mark the text
    electronically).
  4. Transfer these headings to a different document to create an outline (this will be helpful
    as you write your summary). In its most basic form, an outline breaks the text into
    different, more manageable sections. The outline makes creating a summary of the entire
    text relatively painless; in addition, it allows you to focus in on a specific section of the
    text more easily.
  5. Summarize the entire text. Your goal here is to hit upon the key points (or sections) of
    the text, and to do so in one paragraph. To some extent (though not entirely), this is a
    paragraph version of the outline you created. But, the summary allows you to do
    something that the outline does not: the summary allows you to articulate the connection
    between the sub-points.
  6. Choose one section to read and annotate closely. You may create a T-chart (as
    demonstrated in the text), use MS Word Comments (as I did in the sample), or do your
    annotations by hand (note: because you will turn in these annotations, make sure they are
    legible).
  7. Paraphrase/summarize the section you have annotated. Paraphrasing is an important
    skill, but it can be difficult for students. The goal is not so much to replicate the original
    in “different words”; the goal is to explain your understanding of the section. A phrase
    that I find helpful when paraphrasing is: “Basically, King is saying that…”
  8. As you paraphrase/summarize the section, keep in mind that you will then need to
    respond to the text. This is basically where you enter your thoughts about or related to
    the text. If you’ve done well with your annotations of this section, you will already a
    bunch of ideas relate to this.
  9. Once you’ve done these things, you will have strong understanding of the specific section
    and the entire text. Now, you should analyze how (and how well) the specific section
    works within the larger argument the text makes. You may discuss where this section
    falls within the larger argument (see your outline of the entire text); you may discuss how
    the details of this section help achieve the purpose (see your articulation of the rhetorical
    context) of the text, etc.
    [Note: many of these steps are very involved and require revisiting multiple times; the
    steps are presented in the general order which makes sense to me, but most writers will
    go back and forth between steps. No writing project is a linear affair.]
    Many of these things will be turned in throughout the process, and you will see specific
    guidelines and submission spots within Blackboard.
    See TEMPLATE below for what needs to be submitted for the FINAL DRAFT of this project.
    [Include MLA Style heading]
    Writing-About-Texts Project
    I. Rhetorical Context (no credit for entire assignment if not included)
    Text name:
    Author/speaker name:
    Audience:
    Purpose:
    Genre:
    II. Summary of entire text (25%)
    [Include summary of entire text here. 100-200 words]
    III. Full text of specific section (no credit for IV and V if not included)
    [Copy and paste the full text of the specific section you will be working with. The following
    sections won’t be graded unless this is present. Single-space this section only. The length of
    the text can vary. I would say that it would be difficult to work with a section less than 100
    words or greater than 700 words.]
    IV. Summary and Response for specific section (45%)
    [Include your summary/paraphrase of specific section and your response to it. In many ways, this
    is the heart of the assignment. 500-1000 words. No more than 50% should be made up of
    straight summary/paraphrase.]
    V. How the specific section works within the larger work (30%)
    [Here is where you demonstrate how the section you choose works within the entire text. You
    need to keep in mind the purpose of the entire text and this section helps achieve that goal. 150-
    300 words.]

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