This essay assignment focuses on a particular writing skill: summary. Summary involves taking a lot of information and condensing it and maybe even commenting on it a bit as well, all in your own words. For this assignment, you’ll practice these skills by summarizing three of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “7 theses.” You can choose any three of the seven theses that you want–whatever theses resonate with you, or that you find compelling to write about.
For each thesis that you summarize, you should write one paragraph, meaning that you will write a total of three paragraphs. Begin each paragraph by stating the thesis that you will be summarizing. Quote it directly from Cohen’s writing. Then, use the paragraph to put the thesis into your own words. Don’t just use the words in the thesis itself, use Cohen’s explanation of the thesis as a resource for your summary as well. With an essay like Cohen’s, it’s difficult to account for everything–you don’t have to–you just need to do your best to make sense of the writing; try to make it more clear and more direct than he does. Putting his writing into your own words also means that you’re making a claim about what Cohen is trying to say. You’re using your words to interpret his and there are a lot of possible meaningful interpretations. Don’t worry that there is only one “right” way to summarize Cohen. The odds are that I will learn something about Cohen from you that I did not yet consider. Enjoy this exercise as an opportunity to work on your own writing.
Nuts and bolts: 500 words, three total paragraphs, MLA style, In each paragraph, quote each thesis directly directly at the beginning, before you summarize it.
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