Writing With Substance: You Can Haz it! SRSLY!

Reading and Writing: Assignment 6

In this assignment, you'll work on an important skill: integrating what you read into what you write.

Some folks (including but not limited to the authors of They Say / I Say) refer to this skill as making a "quote sandwich." You can find an instructive slideshow here, for instance, that uses that metaphor (though be advised that the slides focus primarily on how to integrate quotations from literary works). I personally like to avoid the phrase "top bun," so I'll give you a generic formula for integrating quotations that works much the same way.

First, introduce the quotation with a verb that attributes it to a noun, usually a person or a text from which the quoted material derives, or a phrase that highlights attribution such as "according to":  

According to John Davis,
As John Davis argues, 
John Davis contends that

You can add to these very brief clauses (what I'll call "attributive tags" from here on out) with additional information if you see fit. For instance, you might add more information about where John Davis's argument appears by using a prepositional phrase: "In an essay on student privacy in Education Survey, John Davies argues..." Sometimes this information is useful for readers to have up front; in other cases, however, you may find that providing it isn't wholly necessary as long as you've properly cited the essay in your Works Cited page. In fact, I'd advise you to think carefully about what the information adds to your prose, since including it can run the risk of overloading your sentences; sentences that contain quotations can be more challenging to read and process than those that contain a single writer's prose. At all times, you must be mindful of your readers' needs. (If you're working with that quote sandwich metaphor, think of that extra information as additional items on the sandwich. Sometimes those items enhance the digestion. Sometimes they end up falling on the plate.)
Second, add in the quotation you want to use, with an eye towards its role in your written work and its grammatical construction in the original context. Is it a complete sentence on its own? Is it a phrase or clause that is incomplete once you remove it from the place it holds in what you've been reading? Your introduction and what you do next will both hinge on the grammar of your quotation. We'll discuss your options and obligations to your sources in more detail in class; for now, I'll simply add quick descriptions of your third and fourth step in the process, offering commentary on the quotation itself that elucidates for readers what the quoted material means and why you're including it, and then adding a parenthetical citation prior to the punctuation (usually) in MLA Documentation Style that matches the entry you'll have in your Works Cited Page.

By "commentary" I don't mean that you need to "translate" the quotation or repeat it; instead, you need to emphasize the implications of that material for your particular needs in a particular piece of writing. Again, we'll talk much more about what I mean here in person; your efforts before our meeting will ensure we have a useful starting point for our work.  

In the assignment articulated below, I want to see what you already know about integrating quotations by asking you to incorporate direct quotations from material we've read into your prose; you must attempt to do so without introducing grammatical or mechanical errors. 
  1. Review the reading you completed for Assignment 1
  2. Review any assigned reading on your syllabus from outside of this book as well the quotations you recorded for Assignment 3 and Assignment 5.
  3. Now write a short Narrative Bibliography in the spirit of Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Home is Where the Hatred Is" that describes how your understanding of data and privacy has been informed by what we've read. You may paraphrase and summarize what you've read in places, but remember that even paraphrases require citations because they, too, are the intellectual property of another writer. You must also use at least four direct quotations (total) in your narrative, drawing them from any of the assigned readings you've completed on the subject (but remember your best sources may indeed be the scholarly sources that you read in academic journals!).  You may also include and discuss any notes you took on the film, Terms and Conditions May Apply, and your notes from class discussions. 
  4. Save your draft to your university Google docs or desktop so that it will be accessible to you in our classroom. Then upload it as well to the submission link for Assignment 6 on Blackboard. You will be revising this document in class, but you must have a full draft uploaded/completed prior to our meeting to be eligible for full credit.  
  5. At the bottom of your document, add any specific questions you have about punctuation or anything else related to quotations that come up as you attempt to write your Narrative Bibliography.

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