In this assignment, you are going to write a brief summary of your primary response article. Next, you are going to respond to that article by bringing up your thoughts or feelings on it. As we learned in ENG 100, academic writing is a conversation, and an important part of the conversation is to summarize what someone else has written before we respond to it. This helps our audience understand the broader conversation that we are entering.
The Summary (50-300 words).
Our summaries should try to capture the main arguments of the paper/article as fairly as possible, even if we disagree with the points the article is making. Though we try to be fair, we are also selective, for we want to focus our summaries on what is relevant to the point we want to make.
For example, if I were writing a summary of “Why Games are Good for You” by Stephen Johnson, I would survey the article first. I would notice that much of the article is focused on the distinction between books and games and some of the article is devoted to discussing the virtues of hand-eye coordination. If my argument is primarily about the content of games, these aren’t areas where I will focus my summary. I will focus my summary on the areas that are relevant to my paper.
In “Why Games are Good for You” Steven Johnson argues that the beneficial ways a person thinks when playing video games is an under-explored subject. He stresses interactivity and community, but mainly he mainly focuses on why video games are so entertaining. To do so, he delves into neuroscience and what goes into the idea of gratification. He argues that video games are beneficial mainly because they practice the player in delayed gratification. He claims that “It is not what you’re thinking about when you’re playing a game, it’s the way you’re thinking that matters” (493).
This summary attempts to convey the basics of Johnson’s argument without getting bogged down in sections of the paper that aren’t relevant to the point that I want to make. Remember, the point of a summary is to set up the “They Say” before you get to your claim, the “I Say”.
The Response (500 words min).
You have likely already formulated a basic response to the article in your “entering the conversation” activity. Now it is time to build and refine those thoughts. Keep in mind that it is okay if your thoughts on the subject have changed or shifted. You may need to return to the “entering the conversation activity” and reread what you wrote, for you might have realized there is a better point to argue. For example, just in writing the summary above, I realized that I also don’t quite agree with Johnson’s point that video games teach delayed gratification. Perhaps that would be a more productive argument than the original one I explored. Part of thinking like a scholar is being willing to follow where your thoughts lead. Many responses will move toward the thesis by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your primary response article. Many responses will focus on establishing the “gap” in the conversation that you will attempt to fill.
After you have written your response, write three different thesis statements that you think best encapsulate your main argument.