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Academic Writing as Conversation: How to bring the voices of others into your text Emmy Misser, Manager, Writing Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Academic Writing as Conversation: How to bring the voices of others into your text Emmy Misser, Manager, Writing Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Academic Writing as Conversation: How to bring the voices of others into your text Emmy Misser, Manager, Writing Centre

2 Looking at academic writing as CONVERSATION “Writing well means engaging the voices of others and letting them in turn engage us.” (Graff and Birkenstein IX)

3 Writing as ongoing conversation In conversation we Listen to other voices Reflect Evaluate Respond using appropriate language, tone, and gesture According to conventions of polite behaviour In writing we Introduce what others have said Summarize what others have said Reflect Evaluate Respond using appropriate diction and control of language According to conventions of academic writing

4 Academic Argument Takes place in a context of research done by other academics Responds to what these researchers have found, said, theorized etc. Student writers also have to respond to relevant research and establish their own work in a research context

5 Looking at academic writing as CONVERSATION Can help students –Engage with their sources in a critical way –Generate material –Structure their text –Understand citation practices better

6 They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing Graff and Birkenstein, 2006

7 Their advice on constructing arguments Remember that you are entering a conversation and therefore need to start with “what others are saying” Summarize what “they say” as soon as you can in your text and remind readers of it at strategic points as your text unfolds (Graff and Birkenstein 18-19)

8 Example: Positioning your argument “For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily towards the lowest-common- denominator standards, presumably because the “masses” want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But…the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.” S. Johnson, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” qdt. in They Say/I Say

9 Positioning your argument Present your claim as part of some larger conversation Those other views help frame and clarify your own position (Graff and Birkenstein 19)

10 Introducing what others are saying A number of sociologists have recently suggested that X’s work has several limitations. It has become common today to dismiss X’s contribution to the field of sociology. In their recent work, Y and Z have offered harsh criticism of Dr. X for………………… (Graff and Birkenstein 21)

11 Opening with an ongoing debate Theories of how the mind/brain works have been dominated for centuries by two opposing views. One, rationalism, sees the human mind as coming into this world more or less fully formed—preprogrammed, in modern terms. The other, empiricism, sees the mind of the newborn as largely unstructured, a blank slate. Mark Aronoff qdt. in They Say/I Say (24)

12 The basic template In discussion of X, one controversial issue has been……………………………………. On the one hand,………….argues………. On the other hand, ………contends……... Others even maintain……………………… My own view is…………………………….. (Graff and Birkenstein 24)

13 “Return Sentences” Remind the reader of the ideas you are responding to Ensure that your text maintains a sense of mission and urgency from start to finish (Graff and Birkenstein 26)

14 Reminding the reader: “return sentences” In conclusion then, as I suggested earlier, defenders of…………………can’t have it both ways. Their assertion that……………. Is contradicted by their claim that…………. (Graff and Birkenstein 26)

15 Summarizing According to AUTHOR,…………………….. AUTHOR states that………………………... She also stresses that……………………… The writer points out that…………………... In his book_____, AUTHOR maintains that Writing in NAME OF JOURNAL, AUTHOR claims that…………………………………… Loretta Gray

16 A good summary Is true to what the original author says while at the same time emphasizing those aspects of what the author says that interest you, the writer, in a way that fits your own composition’s larger agenda (Graff and Birkenstein 29, 34)

17 Verbs for introducing summaries and quotations Verbs for making a claim –Argue, assert, believe, claim, emphasize, insist, observe, remind us, report, suggest Verbs for expressing agreement –Acknowledge, admire, agree, celebrate the fact that, corroborate, do not deny, endorse, extol, praise, reaffirm, support, verify (Graff and Birkenstein 37)

18 Verbs for introducing summaries and quotations Verbs for questioning or disagreeing –Complain, complicate, contend, contradict, deny, deplore the tendency to, disavow, question, refute, reject, renounce repudiate Verbs for making recommendations –Advocate, call for, demand, encourage, exhort, implore, plead, recommend, urge, warn (Graff and Birkenstein 37)

19 Templates for introducing quotations X states, “……………………………..” According to X, “……………….” In X’s view, “……………………...” X agrees when she writes, “……………...” X disagrees when he writes, “…………..” X complicates matters further when she writes, “…………………………………….” (Graff and Birkenstein 43)

20 Templates for explaining quotations Basically, X is saying……………………… In other words, X believes………………… In making this comment, X argues that…... X is insisting that……………………………. X’s point is that……………………………… The essence of X’s argument is that……… (Graff and Birkenstein 44)

21 “Yes / No / Okay, But” Three Ways to Respond

22 “Yes / No / Okay, But” Readers come to any text needing fairly quickly to learn where the writer stands, and they do this by placing the writer on a mental map of familiar responses: –agreeing –disagreeing –or some combination of both (Graff and Birkenstein 51)

23 Responding, with the grain My experience confirms AUTHOR’S suggestion/belief that ………………………. I agree with AUTHOR that ………., a point deserving emphasis since…………………. If AUTHOR is correct, then we need to…. ……………………………………………….. Recent research convinces me that AUTHOR is correct in asserting that…………………… Loretta Gray

24 Responding against the grain By focusing on……….,…………………… AUTHOR misses a more important issue. I find it hard to accept AUTHOR’S claim that ………………. because it is based on the assumption that……………………………. AUTHOR is mistaken because he fails to consider that………………………………… In arguing that …., AUTHOR overlooks recent research that………………………… Loretta Gray

25 Responding against the grain Several of AUTHOR’S statements are contradictory. On the one hand, she asserts that…………………………. On the other, she states that..……………………………………….. Loretta Gray

26 With the grain-against the grain Although I agree with AUTHOR that………,I disagree with his conclusion that ……………………………………….. While I disagree with AUTHOR’S assumption that …....………………..,I fully endorse her proposal to…….... I have mixed feelings about this issue. In a way………… But from a different perspective…………………………… I cannot endorse AUTHOR’S view that ……., even though I will concede that…………………………………………… Though AUTHOR may be right that………, I must point out that……………………………………………………………. AUTHOR provides no evidence that……., but other researcher have convinced me that……………………….. Loretta Gray

27 Synthesizing The claim that……………………………….is supported by the observations of AUTHOR 1 and AUTHOR 2. AUTHOR1 insists that……………….Likewise AUTHOR 2 believes that…………………………………………………. AUTHOR 1 and AUTHOR 2 give examples of…………… …………. AUTHOR 1 asserts that……………. AUTHOR 2 supports his position by……………………………………. Although AUTHOR 1 believes that……………………,this interpretation is not held universally; for example, AUTHOR 2 notes that……………………………………… AUTHOR 1 claims that………;however, he fails to explain …………….. AUTHOR 2 points out that……………………. Loretta Gray

28 Works Cited Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W. W. Norton, Print. (A second edition from 2010 is now available) Gray, Loretta. “Formulaic Expressions: Scaffolding for Fluency”. Conf. on Coll. Composition and Communication. New York City, March 21, 2007.


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