Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summary vs. Analysis

For the purposes of this class, we have to learn not only to distinguish between summaries and analyses (easy enough), but also to control our writing enough to produce one and then the other. For the final exam they both carry equal weight, so you must be equally comfortable with both.

A summary is:
- Objective, meaning include as little of your personal opinion as possible;
- Brief, meaning 1-2 long paragraphs should be sufficient for a thorough summary;
- Concise, meaning that although short, it contains all relevant information from the original essay.

An analysis is:
- Subjective, meaning that your critical opinion of the original piece must be present;
- Not as brief, since you need space to develop your own arguments and reactions to/against the original text;
- Concise, because it is still important not to ramble on away from your point.

For the purposes of your final exams, your summaries must contain the following:
1. The full title of the article
2. The author's full name
3. The thesis statement (even if it is implied) paraphrased by you
4. A consideration of the various examples used
5. A consideration of the language -- what is the tone of the essay? Any use of jargon or particular linguistic quirks?

You must decide, as a critical reader and writer, what the relative importance of each of these points is. For instance, in some cases the language used will be crucial (ironic prose, poetic or lyric prose), and in other cases maybe the various examples will take up more of your time because they perform an important function in the essay. Use these 5 points, but be adaptable with them.

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