Summarizing an Argument Strategies for reading a text for its argument and writing a summary of that argument
Goals Upon finishing this lesson, you will be able to Identify the key features of the argument in a text: claim and reasons. Write an effective summary of a text that focuses on the text’s argument.
Tasks View a short film Identify the argument the film makes Write a summary of the film’s argument
View the film Click on the link below to view the film “The Meatrix.” Watch the film once, then move on to the next slide. http://www.themeatrix.com/ http://www.themeatrix.com/
View the film…again This time, as you view the film, you will look for the key elements of argument. Before you view the film again, review the elements of argument.
Elements of Argument An argument consists of a claim and the reasons that support it
Claim A claim is a debatable statement. Synonyms for claim include “position,” “opinion” and “stance. The claim is what the writer/speaker is trying to prove or get readers/viewers to accept. Claims often appear near the beginning or end of a text.
Reason A reason supports a claim. Reasons answer the question: “Why is this claim true” or “Why should I accept this claim?”
Ask yourself… As you re-view “The Meatrix,” ask yourself these questions and record your answers. What is the claim? What position or opinion is the film trying to get me to accept? What reasons are given to support the claim? According to the film, why should I accept the claim? http://www.themeatrix.com/ http://www.themeatrix.com/
What is the claim? What position or opinion does “The Meatrix” want us to accept?
What is the claim? The claim of “The Meatrix” is “Don’t support the factory farm machine.” (It is stated near the end of the film.)
What are the reasons? Why does “The Meatrix” say we should not support factory farming?
What are the reasons? Because factory farms are …are cruel to animals.
What are the reasons? Because factory farms are …are cruel to animals. …create antibiotic resistant germs
What are the reasons? Because factory farms …are cruel to animals. …create antibiotic resistant germs. …cause massive pollution.
What are the reasons? Because factory farms …are cruel to animals. …create antibiotic resistant germs …cause massive pollution …destroy communities
Summarize the argument Review the qualities of an effective summary. Cite the author and title of the text. Indicate the main ideas (argument). Use direct quotation of key words, phrases, or sentences. Include references to the text. Avoid summarizing specific examples or data. Report the main ideas as objectively as possible. For more information about summarizing, see our textbook, The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers, pg. 167.
Summarize the argument Write your summary. Then compare it to the sample.
Sample Summary The short animated film “The Meatrix” from the web site of the same name urges viewers: “Don’t support the factory farm machine. Escape the Meatrix!” The film cites several negative effects of factory farming to support its claim. These include animal cruelty, antibiotic resistance, “massive pollution,” and destruction of communities. The film explains and gives examples of each of these effects.
How did you do? Note the similarities and differences between your summary and the sample. Review the summary checklist. Make a list of areas from the summary checklist that you need to work on.
How did you do? Refer to the list of areas you need to work on as you write the summary you were assigned for homework.