S1. Introductory paragraph(s). Do you have a short introductory paragraph (or two) that is somewhat distinct from (but consistent with) what you say in the rest of the paper, clear, accurate, and original? Does this paragraph provide context, stay focused, and grab your reader’s attention in a memorable way? (4 points)
S2. Summary of Book #1. Do you clearly and accurately explain (at least) six personal, specific, debatable, and distinct claims that the author puts forth in the assigned reading? Are you reasonably comprehensive in your coverage? And is your summary mostly in your own words?***** (6 points)
S3. Summary of Book #2. See S2. (6 points)
Comparison/Evaluation (out of 21 points):
E1. A similarity and a difference. Do you clearly identify a specific (and distinct) similarity and difference between the books? (4 points)
E2. A commendation of Book #1. Do you clearly identify one personal, specific, and debatable claim by the author that you agreed with (or found somewhat effectively stated), and explain why in a clear, specific, well-reasoned, distinct, and consistent way? (2 points)
E3. A criticism of Book #1. Do you clearly identify one personal and specific claim by the author (or a specific omission in the book) that you disagreed with (or found somewhat ineffectively stated or incompletely explained), and explain why in a clear, specific, well-reasoned, original, distinct, and consistent way? (Make sure the claim you criticize is different from the one you commend.) (3 points)
E4. A commendation of Book #2. See E2. (2 points)
E5. A criticism of Book #2. See E3. (3 points)
E6. Counterargument. Do you acknowledge one pertinent, clear, specific, and well-reasoned counterargument that someone might raise against your own position, and then try to refute it in a clear, specific, well-reasoned, original, distinct, and consistent manner? (3 points)
E7. Concluding paragraph(s). Do you have a short concluding paragraph (or two) that is somewhat distinct from (but consistent with) what you say in the rest of the paper, clear, accurate, well reasoned, and original? In particular, do you state whether or not you found one author’s overall argument to be superior to the other’s, and specifically explain why? Finally, do you end your paper memorably and smoothly? (4 points)
Writing Style (out of 13 points):
WS1. Lack of stylistic flaws. Does your paper contain few stylistic flaws? (9 points)
WS2. Eloquence. Does your prose powerfully attract and move the reader? (4 points)
Overall Score and Grade (out of 50 points):
IMPORTANT: Remember to provide a specific and correct page cite for each passage from your readings that you refer to. You won’t receive any credit for summarizing or evaluating a claim, or for a comparison, unless you provide such a cite (even if you’re not directly quoting the author).
II. An Explanation of Some Key Terms and Phrases on Your Grading Form
? Regarding your summary (maximum score = 16 points)
? Introductory paragraph(s) (maximum score = 4 points)
• Distinct from the rest of the paper. Don’t engage just yet in the specific comparisons and evaluations the grading form asks for (although you can broadly mention your own views here on the authors or topic if you want).
• Be original and grab your reader’s attention. The first few sentences of your paper should not blandly cite dictionary definitions; you can attract readers more effectively (and say something original) by beginning with “a startling statistic or an unusual fact,” “a vivid example,” “a description or an image,” “a quotation,” “a question” (other than my title for your paper), “an analogy,” or “an anecdote” (Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers, A Writer’s Reference, 7th ed., § C2-a). (For more on what it means to be original, see “A Commendation and Criticism of Each Author” below.) Finally, a catchy title is also a great way to draw readers in, although you don’t have to have a title.
? Summary of the authors (maximum score = 12 points)
• In general. As the grading form indicates, you should discusstwelve claims total, although you can address a few more if you want to improve your chances of getting full credit. Since your space is limited, the summary must be selective and efficient (your challenge is to convey the gist of each claim in a few sentences at most, and often even a single sentence can suffice).
• Clearly explain. Make sure you at least occasionally reference each author by name as you summarize his or her thoughts; otherwise your discussion likely will be unclear.
• Personal. Focus on the author’s own current views, rather than (1) ones the author says he or she previously held but rejects now, or (2) the views of others whom he or she mentions but does not explicitly agree with.
• Specific. Do not just say, “Author X talks about Y and Z,” but discuss what exactly X claims about Y and Z.
• Debatable. If you relay a mere definition, scientific description, and/or empirical data without explaining the role they play in the author’s argument (“Author X notes that there have been several million abortions in the United States since the practice was legalized”), or if you convey other information that is universally accepted (“Author X says that George Washington was the first president of the United States”), you won’t get credit for summarizing that claim.
• Reasonably comprehensive. The six claims from each book should be taken from different pages and different parts of it, in order to demonstrate to me that you’ve actually read the material. For instance, referring to pages 3, 27, 78, 85, 103, and 139 when covering a 150-page book is better than discussing only pages 3, 5, 9, 27, 48, and 103.
• Mostly in your own words. You should avoid quoting too much, and you ought to refrain from paraphrasing too closely (such as replacing an author’s words with a couple of synonyms but retaining his or her sentence structure). One way to help you avoid weak paraphrasing when writing is to look away from the source after reading a passage, then mentally envision or take notes on what the author is basically saying, and finally look back to make sure your paraphrase is accurate and that your sentence structure and wording are substantially different from those of the author. (On the above matters, see Hacker and Sommers, §§ R3-c, MLA-3a, CMS-2c; and Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed., § 7.9.) Also, instead of quoting and then paraphrasing the quote, it’s usually best to just paraphrase (see W27 below).
• Provide specific and correct page cites. See W34 below on how to cite. In order to receive credit, don’t make your page cites too broad (more than five or so pages), unless the information you cite really is spread out over that entire range of pages.
• An additional tip. Claims that you discuss while comparing or evaluating can contribute to your summary score at the same time, so you don’t have to mention the same claim twice in your paper. And on the other hand, if your comparison and/or evaluation are too quote heavy or misrepresent what the authors actually claim, that can detract from your summary score.
? Regarding your comparison/evaluation (maximum score = 21 points)
? A similarity and a difference (maximum score = 4 points)
• Specific. For example, don’t say here that “Author X and Author Y both discuss the issue of abortion [or are both Christian]” or “Author X thinks abortion can be morally permissible while Author Y does not” (or that the authors are not of the same religion or profession). If you have difficulty finding similarities between the authors’ own particular views, rationales, or styles, you can just call attention to specific topics they both address.
• Distinct. In order to receive full credit, your similarity and difference should not be related. So for example, if you point out that the authors take different positions on the same topic, you will only get credit for a similarity or a difference, not both.
• Provide specific and correct page cites.See “Summary of the Authors” above regarding this.
? A commendation and criticism of each author (maximum score = 10 points)
• Personal and debatable. See “Summary of the Authors” above for what these terms mean.
• Clear. Make sure you clearly distinguish between the authors’ views and your own thoughts; it is fine to use the pronoun “I.”
• Original (only required for your criticisms). In other words, you should contribute something here that is not already said in the readings for this paper. To be original, you might point out a contradiction in someone’s reasoning. Or you could employ a new argument, inventive example, personal story, or creative analogy to support your point. (Regarding such strategies, see Andrea Lunsford, Easy Writer, 3rd ed., § 3e.) You also could tie your analysis to things happening in public or on campus, or to things you have picked up from other specific sources (such as class lecture, one of the required readings for all students in our course, material from another course, or reading outside of school), as long as you cite them. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list; you might also think of other ways to be original.
• Distinct. Each commendation and criticism should be at least somewhat distinct from your other arguments in your evaluation.
• Provide specific and correct page cites. See “Summary of the Authors” above regarding this.
? Counterargument (maximum score = 3 points)
• In general. You should use the following format (or something similar): “I believe that ____. One might object to my argument by saying ____. However, I would respond by pointing out that ____.”
• Acknowledge one pertinent and clear counterargument. In order to ensure that your proposed possible counterargument is clear, you should first make sure that the reader comprehends your own initial argument. For example, your initial argument might be your commendation or criticism of an author’s point, or it might be a new argument that you haven’t yet mentioned, and then the counterargument would attempt to rebut that. Also, the counterargument should be relevant to the general paper topic at hand.
• Refute it in a clear, original, and distinct manner. Your response to the counterargument should be at least somewhat distinct from your other arguments in your evaluation. For the meaning of the other terms here, see “A Commendation and Criticism of Each Author” above.
• For more on how to address possible counterarguments, see the “counterargument” section of http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/argument.
? Concluding paragraph(s) (maximum score = 4 points)
• Distinct from the rest of the paper. Comparisons, commendations, criticisms, and counterargument should come before the concluding paragraph(s), and it shouldn’t simply repeat what you said before.
• Clear and original. See “A Commendation and Criticism of Each Author” above for what these terms mean.
• End your paper memorably. If you like, here you have an opportunity to express your own thoughts on the topic at hand that are not as directly tied to what the authors say. “One effective strategy [includes] . . . remind[ing] readers why your discussion is significant” (Lunsford, § 41a). You could also “propose a course of action,” “offer a recommendation” (in particular, you might say whether or not you recommend one or both readings), or “pose a question for future study.” Or, “you might include . . . an image from the introduction to bring readers full circle; a quotation or a bit of dialogue; an anecdote; or a witty or ironic comment” (Hacker and Sommers, § C2-c). This is not necessarily an exhaustive list; you might also think of other ways to end your paper memorably.
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