Summary of Jon Gertner’s “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness”

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Paper #1: Summary
Length: 1 ½ pages typed, double-spaced, one inch margins, 12 pt Times New Roman or comparable font.
Citations: MLA in-text citation method
Outside Sources: None, use only class reading and discussion
Draft of Paper: Due Thursday, September 4th, in class (must be typed)
Revised Final Draft: Due Tuesday, September 9th, in class.
Be sure to review the guidelines for writing a summary in “Summary, Paraphrase and Quotation” in your Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum textbook.
The first paper this semester is a summary of either Jon Gertner’s “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness” (.pdf on Sakai) or Jib Fowles’ “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” (textbook pgs. 551-68). As an analytical summary, the goal of this assignment is to construct a thorough account of Gertner’s or Fowles’argument that identifies its most important features and explains the logical connection of these features to each other and the larger thesis/argument of the piece As summary, your paper will describe, explain, paraphrase and quote significant elements of the text at hand. (Important: the assignment does not call upon you to produce your own original critique on the topic, nor does it call for you to directly evaluate or cast judgment upon the text).
There are four basic writing skills fundamental to the assignment:
1.) Your ability to locate a thesis and its chief supporting evidence and arguments.
2.) Your ability to explain the logical connections between the different parts of the original you deem important and how they fit into the essay’s overarching argument.
3.) Your technical ability to accurately and effectively introduce and incorporate
quotations and paraphrasing. You must be careful not to let any direct language—phrases or sentences—slip into your summary without being quoted.
Along those lines, your summary should remind your reader from time to time, that these are not your ideas or arguments, but those of the author of whatever essay you summarize. Use attributive tags).
4.) Your summary should represent, in miniature, the general shape and argumentative logic of the original and should be readable as a coherent and rationally structured essay itself (with an introduction/first sentence that introduces the essay you summarize and its central thesis, a body that explains the supporting evidence, and a conclusion. AVOID THE “LAUNDRY LIST” error. A summary is much more than a random listing of things taken from the original source.
– Be sure you begin the summary with a topic sentence that states the author’s main thesis.
– Be sure to be as objective as you can be when you restate or describe the author’s argument. There should be no statements or indications of your opinion in the summary.
– Be accurate and fair – make sure you are not distorting the author’s argument.
– Be complete – make sure you mention all of the author’s main points. Give the article balanced coverage.
As with all our papers in this class, a Works Cited page is required. It will have only one source cited – the one you are summarizing. We will work on correct citation format in class before the paper is due.
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