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“As He Himself Puts It” Chapter Three: The Art of Quoting.

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1 “As He Himself Puts It” Chapter Three: The Art of Quoting

2 Giving credibility to the summary of your source: Some writers under-quote. They might do this because they don’t feel like re-reading. Others over-quote. They might over-quote because they don’t understand the quote enough to put it into their own words.

3 Quoting what “they say” must always be connected with what you say… But the main problem with quoting is assuming that quotes speak for themselves. You throw it out there and never explain it. What you quote must support your argument. Surround every quote with a frame, explaining whose words they are, what the quote means, and how the quote relates to your own argument.

4 Frame Every Quotation: Make your quote’s relevance and meaning clear to your readers. Don’t dangle your quotes without explaining them: “Susan Bordo writes about women and dieting. ‘Fiji is just one example. Until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting.’ I think Bordo is right. Another point Bordo makes is that…” Since the writer fails to introduce the quote adequately or explain why he finds it worth quoting, readers will have a hard time reconstructing what Bordo argued. The writer simply abandons the quote in order to zoom on to another point.

5 Templates for introducing quotes: X states, “not all steroids should be banned from sports.” As the prominent philosopher X puts it, “_____________________.” According to X, “______________.” X himself writes, “_____________.” In her book, __________, X maintains that “_____________.” Writing in the journal Commentary, X complains that “___________.” In X’s view, “__________________.” X agrees when she writes, “________________.” X disagrees when he writes, “______________.” X complicates matters further when she writes, “__________________.”

6 Templates for explaining quotes: Basically, X is warning that the proposed solution will only make the problem worse. In other words, X believes ______________. In making this comment X urges us to ______________. X is corroborating the age-old adage that ________________. The essence of X’s argument is that ______________. REVISION OF EARLIER PASSAGE QUOTING BORDO: “The feminist philosopher Susan Bordo deplores Western media’s obsession with female thinness and dieting. Her basic complaint is that increasing numbers of women across the globe are being led to see themselves as fat and in need of a diet. Citing the islands of Fiji as a case in point, Bordo notes that ‘until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting.’ (149-50) Bordo’s point is that the Western cult of dieting is spreading even to remote places across the globe. Ultimately, Bordo complains, the culture of dieting will find you, regardless of where you live. Bordo’s observations ring true to me because, now that I think about it, most women I know, regardless of where they are from, are seriously unhappy about their weight.”

7 Can you overanalyze a quote? The most explanatory framing is needed for quotes that may be hard for readers to process: Quotes that are long and complex, That are filled with details or jargon, Or that contain hidden complexities. When in doubt, it’s better to over- than under-explain.

8 How not to introduce quotes: “Orwell asserts an idea that_____.” The above is redundant. “A quote by Shakespeare says_____.” The above is misleading—you are doing the quoting, not Shakespeare.

9 EXERCISE #1: Find a published piece of writing that quotes something “they say”. How has the writer integrated the quote into his/her own text? How has he or she introduced the quote, and what if anything, has the writer said to explain it and tie it to his or her own text? Based on what you’ve read in this chapter, are there any changes you would suggest?


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