Précis Formula Sentence One



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Précis
The précis (pronounced pray-see) is a concise, four-sentence summary of a book, article, or other text. It follows a specific formula in order to retain the original text’s logic, development, and argument.

Précis Formula

Sentence One: Full name of the author, the type and title of work, the date in parentheses, a rhetorically accurate verb, and a THAT clause in which you state the major assertion (thesis statement).

Sentence Two: An explanation or methodology of how the author develops and/or supports the thesis.

Sentence Three: A statement of the author's apparent purpose followed by an IN ORDER TO phrase in which you explain what the author wants the audience to do, to feel, or to understand as a result of reading the work.

Sentence Four: A statement of the author’s tone and a description of who the intended audience is.

Précis Skeleton
In the (A) ____________ (Title) ____________ (year), (Author’s Full Name) ____________ (B) ____________ that (Thesis Statement) ____________. (Author’s Last Name) ____________ supports his/her (C) ____________ by (D) ____________ (What?) ____________. The author’s purpose is to (E) ____________in order to (F) ___________ (What?) ____________. The author writes in a(n) (G) ____________ tone for (Target Audience?) ____________.
WORD BANK – A FEW OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM!

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

article

novel


book

book review

essay

column


editorial

critique


argues declares

asserts


affirms

acknowledges

suggests

persuades

convinces

claims


questions

explains



argument

declaration

assertion

affirmation

acknowledgement

suggestion

persuasion

conviction

claim

question


explanation


analyzing

quoting


chronicling

comparing

contrasting

explaining

illustrating

demonstrating

defining

describing

listing

organizing



describe

alert


portray

illustrate

depict

explain


point out

suggest


inform

persuade


convince

prove


influence

provide


alter

change


emphasize

impress


move

advance


learn

educate


coerce

cease


induce

evoke


prevent

avert


formal

informal


sarcastic

humorous


contemptuous

scientific

educational

professional




Example 1

In his essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849), Henry David Thoreau asserts the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. Thoreau illustrates this belief by criticizing American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War. His purpose is to make readers aware of the notion that government rarely proves itself useful and that it derives its power from the majority because they are the strongest group, not because they hold the most legitimate viewpoint in order to encourage the readers to reflect on what they believe in strongly enough to take some sort of nonviolent stance. He establishes a formal relationship with his audience of educated adults who are interested in how they might “wash their hands” of government when its laws are ideologically out of line with one’s strongest beliefs. 

Example 2

In his article “Idiot Warning Labels” (2000), Leonard Pitts Jr. proclaims that warning labels are spreading stupidity among the public. Pitts combines verbal irony, logical appeal, and rhetorical questioning with a variety of cultural references to support his claim. Pitts vents his frustration in order to increase awareness of how corporations intellectually demean their consumers. Pitts writes in an informal and humorous tone for an audience of typical American readers and consumers, especially those who may agree with the absurdity of such warning labels. 

Example 3

In her article "Who Cares if Johnny Can't Read?" (1997), Larissa MacFarquhar asserts that Americans are reading more than ever despite claims to the contrary and that it is time to reconsider why we value reading so much, especially certain kinds of "high culture" reading. MacFarquhar supports her claims about American reading habits with facts and statistics that compare past and present reading practices, and she challenges common assumptions by raising questions about reading's intrinsic value. Her purpose is to dispel certain myths about reading in order to raise new and more important questions about the value of reading and other media in our culture. She seems to have a young, hip, somewhat irreverent audience in mind because her tone is sarcastic, and she suggests that the ideas she opposes are old-fashioned positions. 

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