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The Summary/Response Essay

Building on the summaries in CO300, the summary/response essay represents studentsí chance to begin arguing with the authors of assigned articles. The studentsí arguments, of course, can fulfill different aims:

Any of these options works well for the summary/response essay.

One strategy for developing this essay is to go through your summary and Toulmin analysis and create a chart of points you agree or disagree with or parts of the essay that you see as strengths and weaknesses. Based on these lists, you can then jot down pertinent experiences youíve had, information from other reading, or an analysis of the writerís logic and evidence.

Three organizational patterns are most common for this essay:

Pattern I

Block of summary

Transitional link with your thesis

Block of response

Conclusion

Pattern II

Introduction with your thesis

Block of summary

Block of response

Conclusion

Pattern III

Introduction with your thesis

Summary point 1/response point 1

Summary point 2/response point 2

Summary point 3/response point 3, and so on

Conclusion 

Developing the response sometimes poses problems for students. If you draw on your own experience and reading, youíll find it easier to flesh out your support for your position. If you decide to analyze the logic (or some other aspect of how the original essay is written), then be sure to include all the steps in your thinking about the essay. Such detailed analysis constitutes the support or development in an analytic response.

Please keep in mind two other points about the response:

  1. Counter-assertion--merely saying, "The author is wrong when he says X"--and
    re-assertion--"The author is right when he says X"--are not developed responses. You need to go beyond assertion to detailed support of why you agree or disagree, why you see a flaw in logic, or why you think the style defeats the authorís purpose, for instance.
  2. Re-summarizing the authorís support does not constitute your own development. You need to generate details other than those the author cites in the original essay.

Here are some other points you might want to keep in mind as you write and revise your summary/response essay: