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Major Paper #1—Summary/Critical Response (Book Attached) 2 papers Required  but different

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Most of us use critical reading strategies everyday to effectively process all of the information we are consistently bombarded with.  This assignment allows you continue to explore ideas of reading and writing rhetorically, as you will use different strategies to write your summary and your strong response.

The Assignment:

This assignment will have two parts:



The Summary

Summarize in 150-200 words the article your instructor has chosen from the assignment.  Please use “Working at McDonald’s” on pages 260-262 of your 10th edition textbook (or pages 280-283 of your 9th edition book).  In this summary, you should relay the article’s main points, completely and accurately, in your own words.  If you find yourself in a situation in which the author’s words needed to be quoted directly (perhaps for emphasis), you must make it clear that these words are the author’s by using quotation marks appropriately.  You will not want to quote anything over one sentence in length, and you will want to limit yourself to no more than 2-3 direct quotes, if you use any at all.  Remember that the whole point of this portion of the assignment is for you to restate the author’s points objectively in your own words.

In general, I recommend you structure your first sentence something like this:

           In “Working at McDonald’s,” Amitai Etzioni argues that…

This will function as the thesis statement of your summary, so this first sentence will need to convey the main point(s) of the article to give your reader an overall view.



Critical Response

Write a 1 ½ to 2 page response to the article your instructor has chosen from the assignment.  Please use “Working at McDonald’s” on pages 260-262 of your 10th edition textbook (or pages 280-283 of your 9th edition book).  Before you even begin drafting, you will want to decide on the terms of your response.  Once you decide on the terms (or grounds) of your response, you’ll want to figure out how you can support your points—using logic, outside evidence—whatever is appropriate.  Your response cannot be based on simply your opinion about the issue.


A Sample Summary

Summary of  “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names” 

In “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names,” Richard Estrada argues that sports teams should not be allowed to continue using ethnic-based names and mascots.  Estrada claims that teams such as the Braves, Indians, Seminoles, and Redskins—no matter how established or popular—should change their team names and mascots, which are degrading to Native Americans.  He further suggests that the stereotypes accompanying these mascots, such as “tomahawk chops and war chants,” dehumanize and single out Native Americans, setting them aside from the rest of society.  “Nobody likes to be trivialized or deprived of his or her dignity,” Estrada asserts, and yet allowing ethnic-based mascots enables—and even promotes—such trivialization.  What makes matters worse, according to Estrada, is that such mascots target one of our nation’s least politically powerful ethnic groups.  He provides examples of other possible team names based on other ethnic minorities (such as the “New York Jews”), which would never be tolerated in our society.  As a result, Estrada concludes that Native Americans should be treated with simple human dignity, just like everyone else.   178 Words



Sample Critical Response

Sticks and Stones and Contradictions

          I found Richard Estrada’s article, “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names,” unconvincing, and also a bit confusing.  Estrada’s language seems inflated, exaggerated, and even contradictory.  His evidence is entirely anecdotal, and as a result, we receive very few concrete facts to support his claims.  In addition, Estrada’s credibility is unclear throughout the article. 

          To begin with, Estrada uses many exaggerated and contradictory phrases.  For instance, Estrada claims that using ethic sports teams names and mascots is “dehumanizing” to Native Americans (280).  To “dehumanize” is to deprive someone of human qualities, yet Estrada never proves that this is actually what ethic sports names actually do.  In fact, he completely contradicts this notion of “dehumanization” in the previous sentence, by discussing why these mascots were chosen in the first place.  “The noble symbols of the Redskins or college football’s Florida Seminoles or the Illinois Illini are meant to be strong and proud” (280).  Noble.  Strong.  Proud.  These are all human qualities; indeed, they are qualities many people aspire to attain.  So how can such symbols be dehumanizing?

          In addition, the title “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names” itself seems to contradict Estrada’s claims.  By invoking the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” Estrada seems to imply that mascots and team names don’t matter at all.  I had to read the article several times before I finally grasped his intentions.  Estrada is trying to be ironic.  Although his title alludes to the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” Estrada is actually trying to prove the opposite:  Words can hurt us, and deeply.  While most people are probably familiar with the original children’s rhyme, I don’t believe that most readers will know that they should be reading Estrada’s title ironically.  This is particularly true when we consider Estrada’s intended audience.  This column was written for the Dallas Morning News, not for the classroom setting.  How many people really critically read their morning newspapers?  How many people study such articles carefully, rather than skimming, and read them several times?

          Next, Estrada’s lack of concrete evidence is problematic. Other than references to particular teams, his evidence is entirely anecdotal and often hearsay.  For example, overhearing a father’s complaint on the radio about a largely unrelated incident—a school dress-up day—does little to prove the real harms of ethnic sports names and mascots.  This story only shows that one person was offended by an irresponsible decision made by a few insensitive teachers.  What Estrada needs to prove is real harm done:  Perhaps interviewing or surveying a group of Native Americans to hear their thoughts on this subject.  Perhaps citing a psychological or sociological study that proves the lasting impacts of mascots in social development.  How does seeing these mascots affect the way people of other races view Native Americans?  How does seeing these mascots affect the way Native Americans view themselves?  Do most Native Americans feel offended by mascots such as the Braves and the Redskins?  These are all questions Estrada needs to answer with more concrete evidence.

          Finally, Estrada’s credibility and investment in this issue are unclear throughout his article.  Is Estrada Native American?  He certainly doesn’t have to be to care about this issue, but either way, he should make it clearer why he cares.  If Estrada is Native American, does he presume to speak on behalf of all Native Americans?  If Estrada is not Native American, how does he know any Native Americans are actually offended?  (Other than the father who called the radio station, of course.)  What Estrada thinks about this issue is clear.  But what does he really know about it?

          Before I read this article, I already believed that ethnic-based mascots could be degrading.  But Estrada does nothing to actually prove this degradation.  His article includes exaggerated and contradictory language, but no concrete facts, and no clear evidence of the author’s credibility.  In the end, sticks and stones may break my bones, but Estrada’s words cannot convince me.



Again, what did you notice?  What does the strong response include?  How is it formatted?

The first paragraph of this section defines the terms of the response and the student’s claims.  In the example above, for instance, the student is focusing on exaggerated language, lack of evidence, and the author’s lack of credibility.  You will want the terms of your response to be clear in the first paragraph as well, so that your reader will know where you’re going.

The last paragraph of this section provides a sense of conclusion and restates the student’s claims/terms of response.  You will also want your closing paragraph to wrap things up, and reemphasize your points.

Between the first paragraph and the last paragraph, however, what’s happening?  The student is devoting at least one paragraph to each of his claims.  For instance, paragraphs 2 and 3 offer examples and explanation to support the student’s claim that Estrada uses exaggerated, contradictory language.  Paragraph 4 offers examples and explanation to support the student’s claim that the article lacks evidence.  Paragraph 5 offers examples and explanation to support the student’s claim that Estrada’s lack credibility.  I recommend you use this 1-2 paragraphs per claim structure, which should help keep you organized and the reader on track.   

Finally, perhaps you also noticed the funny little (280) things dispersed throughout the response.  Those are known as parenthetical citations.  They tell us the page of the article from which the student is paraphrasing ideas that are not his own (and/or places in which he is directly quoting the author, though the direct quotes also need to be in “quotation marks”). 

But how do I get from here to there?

As with the summary, I recommend you consider the materials in your chapter as a guide in crafting your critical response.  In particular, the last five reading strategies in Chapter 12 offer a helpful guide to determining the grounds of your response. 

However, unlike the strong response in Comp I, in which you were allowed to reflect on your own views of the issue at hand, you may not do much of that in the paper.  You want to talk about the successfulness of the writing, not your opinions or believes.

While you may not just focus on your personal beliefs, you do have the following options in terms of the grounds of your response:


       – This includes questions of “appropriateness,” “believability,” and “consistency/completeness,” as discussed on pages 594-596.


     – This includes questions relating to emotionally manipulative techniques such as overly emotional or tear-jerking language, exaggerated   statistics, scary stories, doomsday-type imaginative scenarios, and other over-the-top emotionally-laden moves that the writer may be using to manipulative the reader.  (See pages 596-597.)


    – This includes questions related to the writer’s “knowledge,” “fairness,” and use of “common ground,” as discussed on pages 597-598.



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