Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)
What’s Your Name?
Introduce a quote in the same way that you would introduce yourself to another person. The person you are introducing yourself to doesn’t know you and doesn’t know your name or who you are. To the other person you are new. Therefore, make sure to introduce context-specific information.
For example, suppose you enroll in an English evening section. The class allows a 10-minute break, because it is two hours and forty minutes. During these 10 minutes, you decide to step outside and smoke a cigarette. You see another person outside smoking too. Before you get into a personal conversation about the teacher of your class, make sure that the other person you are talking to is not the teacher’s son! In other words, introduce context-specific information before delving deeper into the subject matter of your paper.
If your thesis agrees with a quote that you want to incorporate into your paper, then introduce the quote in such a way that the reader understands the information you are incorporating is new to you as the author of the paper and to the paper itself. You should never summarize or paraphrase information into a sentence you have developed without a clear indication to the reader that certain words or group of phrases belong to another person.
If the information is new to you, then it must be new to the reader also. The reader needs to know the difference between you (your thoughts) and the new information, so present the information in such a way that assures your reader that you are capable of presenting new information accurately. In addition, describe the type of information to the reader. For example, does the quote represent an opposition to your analysis or an opposition to the thesis? Does the quote support your analysis or support your thesis? Examine the following excerpt from the graduate paper previously mentioned.
Particularly, Ernest Allen explores the role of the “blackacademic,” who continues the tradition of imposing racial criteria onto Du Bois’s concept. He attempts to divide prevailing thought while simultaneously reexamining Du Bois’s perspective. Allen’s article, “Du Boisian Double Consciousness: The Unsustainable Argument” (2003) explores the general pattern of “blackacademics” and their misreadings of “The Souls of Black Folk,” particularly the famous epigraph, projecting their interpretations of Du Bois’s motivation for shaping the nineteenth-century construct. Allen places before him the famous epigraph to mull over its elements and concludes that “blackacademics” focus primarily on certain words and phrases. Such phrases include the sentence “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” (Du Bois).
First, with this excerpt we have provided you with two significant things.
1) We have introduced to you two types of people: Du Bois and Allen. You know their names. You know who they are. You know their distinctions within the excerpt. You know their works and the differences between each author’s work.
2) We have introduced to you also how the writer (graduate student) “introduces” these two people, as a) supporters of the writer’s thesis and as b) one person (Allen) supporting another (Du Bois).
The writer presents Allen as supporting Du Bois and as opposing anyone (“blackademics”) who tries to redefine Du Bois’s 19th century social perspective. Allen opposes any type of work that fails to mirror Du Bois’s scholarly perspectives, any work in particular that attempts to convey through vain imaginations something intellectually different from Du Bois’s social stance. We know that Allen opposes intellectual work that goes against Du Bois’s perspective, because he calls such acts “misreadings.”
Therefore, your ability to understand the position of the author of a source you are incorporating is crucial to the impact of your essay upon your reader. If you can’t understand who the players are and what they believe, your reader will not be able to understand also.
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Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.