Five times in the semester, you will write a summary of one of the week’s readings. (In weeks where we are reading a whole book, you will divide the task between you.) The goal of the summary assignment is twofold: first, for you to practice summing up and synthesizing the key ideas from complex texts, and second, for us to finish the semester with an archive of each text’s key points that we can all return to––a useful resource for future exam and dissertation preparation.
The summaries should highlight what you understand to be the key interventions of the text. Your goal should be to make sense of the writer’s project rather than to criticize or celebrate it, though you are welcome to include your own responses once you have laid out the key ideas. Include key passages or page references if you think they are especially important, but don’t rehearse the author’s whole argument; explain what you think the most important insights are.
If you find the reading difficult to understand, you should use the summary as a place to sketch out what you think is going on, including specifics of the difficulties you are having. I also encourage you to use these summaries as a place to list the questions you would like to discuss during class (or even before, since your classmates will be commenting on your summaries each week).
There is no hard word limit for your summaries, but you should aim to write around 400 words.
Summaries are due 48 hours before class, i.e. at 6pm on Tuesdays.
Click here to sign up for summaries or to check the schedule. You must be logged in with your UMD Google account.