Objective: to summarize “The Question of Cultural Identity” for a reader who has not read the essay.
Estimated time: 1 hour
Due: Wednesday, February 5th at 9:00 a.m.
Part 1—Reading and Annotation
- Carefully read the Citing Sources writing guide. You might also skim read / refer to Chapter 2 of They Say, I Say, especially pages 39-40, for some tips and keywords.
- Carefully read and annotate Sections 5 and 6 in “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Write down ideas and questions that you have in response to specific parts of these sections. As you did for Exercise 1.2, use the connections you noted when you were reading Sections 5 and 6 to identify how Hall continues to develop the concepts explored in previous sections. What elements of the rhetorical situation of the text can you identify? How do those function to help Hall develop his analysis?
- Read the sample summary below.
Draft a one-paragraph summary of “The Question of Cultural Identity” following the above guidelines. Imagine that you want another student who has not read the essay to understand it. Post as a comment below and bring a printed copy of your typed summary to class with you on Wednesday.
An effective summary helps an unfamiliar reader to accurately understand the main ideas of a piece of writing. Typically, an effective summary includes:
- the author’s full name.
- the name of the text.
- a description of the author’s analytical project (useful verbs: explores, examines, analyzes, investigates; NOT: says, writes, is about, looks into).
- one or two quotes of the author’s main point (useful verbs: argues, asserts, states, proposes, hypothesizes, claims).
- a paraphrase/explanation/example of the author’s main point (useful phrases: for example, for instance, in other words).
- a brief description of how the author supports his/her main idea in the text.
Here’s an example of a summary of a 25-page essay called “The Trouble with Wilderness”:
In his essay “The Trouble with Wilderness,” William Cronon, Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, asks his readers to “rethink wilderness” (83). He criticizes mainstream environmentalism’s portrayal of wilderness as “sublime,” claiming that these “specific habits of thinking” have actually hindered the modern environmental movement by “underpinning other environmental concerns” (97-99). Cronon claims that this insistence on portraying the wilderness as separate from society inadvertently draws attention away from “most of our serious environmental problems” in “the landscape … that we call home” (103). Thus, he concludes that humankind should refrain from a “dualistic vision in which the human is entirely outside the natural” (97). Instead, he advocates that society be self-conscious of its actions in relation to nature everywhere, not just the locations perceived as the wilderness but also the environment that surrounds and permeates human civilization.