The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate how well you can correctly identify and summarize a writer’s argument (or arguments) in a composition. In addition, you will need to also capture the rhetorical situation – this can include the stance the writer takes, the audience they may be writing for, and the purpose for writing. You will be writing two summaries on the same text: a long one and a short one.
As writers, being able to summarize a text is a fundamental skill. Often, we rely on the research and expertise of others, and being able to translate to our audience is a necessity. Even if we’re in the process of deconstructing someone’s argument and trying to prove them wrong, we’re still going to need to accurately summarize the points we want to talk about. You won’t get too far without being competent at summarizing.
In this assignment, we’ll address summary from two positions—the short and the long of things. Often in doing summary work we need to quickly get across an idea, and in other cases we need to go into the weeds a bit and really explain what happens. We’re going to do both in this assignment—you’ll write a longer summary and a shorter version of that same summary. The two shouldn’t be exactly the same, and it will be an editorial challenge for you to decide what goes into which.
To get started, read/watch and annotated Ronald Reagan’s “City on a Hill” speech.
When you’re ready to begin the writing process, think about the following:
What is the rhetorical situation of this text?
What is the main idea, and how is it presented to the audience?
So what? How might this text influence readers or affect the overall conversation?
Have I only included the information that is necessary for my readers?
Does the information I have included make sense for my readers who may not be familiar with the text or the topic?