Reading Analysis 2 Final


Reading Analysis 2

Makenzie Gold Quiros

There seems to be a certain irony about a book written to help you learn to better write. It, in itself, is not going to be a literary masterpiece, but it will be incredibly efficient in teaching you to make one. In Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say, I Say the entirety of their first chapter is spent advising the reader to start with what someone else says. An efficient lesson on summary Graff and Birkenstein present tips, templates, and guidelines for keeping your summaries in shape throughout your writing career.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a reader lose interest or become indignant while reading a passage or even listening to a presentation; as a college student I can readily attest to that fact. The first section of Chapter one in They Say, I Say is spent on this dilemma, and how to best avoid it. “[A] writer needs to indicate clearly not only what his or her thesis is, but also what larger conversation that thesis is responding to.” Advises Graff and Birkenstein, essentially reminding the writer to remember that the information being given out is being given out by an already bias source. The writer of a summary has read the entire article (hopefully anyways) and therefore knows the smaller details that helped them to understand the subject, but that may have been left out in the summary, leaving holes in the information given. It needs to be kept in mind that the audience you are speaking to would by and large not have the breadth and width of knowledge that the writer does on the subject. Such intrinsic details should never be forgotten.

From this point several templates are introduced in order to help the reader understand the different ways to present information to others that shows their view at the same time. For example, the section “Templates for Introducing Something Implied or Assumed” opens with the gem “Although none of them have ever said so directly, my teachers have often given me the impression that education will open doors.” Now that can have an entire paragraph to itself but that would be getting away from the purpose of this paper. This format, as well as many others presented, allows for the presentation for a “they say”, while adding a subtle “I say”.

To close off the first chapter Graff and Birkenstein implore the reader to keep the lesson of  “they say” in mind through the rest of the book. Reminding the reader that: “Readers won’t be able to follow your unfolding response, much less any complications you offer, unless you keep reminding them what claims you are responding to.”. This reaches back to the beginning of the text when they offered an example of a speaker forgetting that the audience had no idea the background information of the subject they were presenting on. Not only is it necessary to give the reader a sufficient amount of information to work with and understand your message, and the message of the passage you are summarizing, a writer should continually remind the reader of said information as they are not as familiar on the subject. The “they say” of a paper or presentation should be carefully cultivated to keep in mind the audience to which a person is presenting to.



Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing Pg 19-29. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.

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