One-Page Paraphrase – communicate the substance of a scholarly article or book chapter

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In a one-page paraphrase, you should be able to communicate the substance of a scholarly article or book chapter concisely, elegantly, and comprehensively. You should not think of the paraphrase as a general summary of a reading without any substantial information.

First, read my “Some Remarks on Reading Scholarly Articles.” (Links to an external site.) Then read Eric Porter, “Jazz and Revival,” American Quarterly 61, no. 3 (2009): 593–613 (Links to an external site.). (This would be the format for the first footnote—see guidelines below.) After completing the reading, write a one-page paraphrase of it. Observe the following guidelines.

  • Compose your paper in Times New Roman, 12-point font, single spaced, without any space between paragraphs (open the Paragraph setting in Word and make sure that it is set to single space without any extra space between paragraphs. I will show you how to do this if you are unable to do it on your own.) Put your name in a header, not in the main text.
  • The first sentence should be a thesis statement (either Porter’s or your own) that communicates the principal claim of the article. This should be followed by a footnote giving the bibliographic information for the article. (The bibliographic information should follow exactly that given above.)
  • Then for the rest, go page by page and write one or two sentences distilling the most important content. These sentences should not generalize the content, but communicate specific detail concisely. Periodically include in parentheses the page numbers or page number ranges for the information you distill.
  • Make sure that the sentences connect logically to the others so that the draft has an overall cohesiveness. It should not read like a random assemblage of information.
  • Include descriptions of important evidence (sometimes mentioned only in the notes).
  • Aim for a total length of around 650 words.

This activity is aimed to help you grapple with the very different kind of writing encountered in scholarly articles. You can meet with me to discuss preliminary drafts if desired.

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New York University

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