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Exercise #1: Summary and Reconstruction

This exercise involves reading, which, if done actively, can help you learn about writing itself.

Read the assigned essays and select the one that most interests you. You will be working with

that essay during this progression.

Keep up with the way you respond to the essay as you read and study it. Mark phrases or images

that strike you as interesting or important in some way. Think about the way the essayist uses

language to convey ideas. But most important, record your thoughts about what you are reading.

Make marginal notes or keep a reading journal. You are trying to find out what the essay means.

Your first task in this progression is to summarize or reconstruct the essay. A summary

(reader-based) or reconstruction (writer-based) presents the essence of the original essay,

and the essence obviously includes the essay’s controlling idea.

Manuscript Notes: Your summary should be about 100 words (no more than one doublespaced

typed page). This summary calls for MLA documentation; at a minimum, you must

include a “Works Cited” list. If you quote key phrases or clauses from the essay,

parenthetical documentation is also required. During this progression, documentation will

be discussed in class, but you should dig out the essential information on your own. There is

nothing mysterious or complicated about it. Consistency is the key. Consult your handbook