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"They Say / I Say"

The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings


Gerald Graff (Author, University of Illinois at Chicago), Cathy Birkenstein (Author, University of Illinois at Chicago), Russel Durst (Author, University of Cincinnati)


"They Say / I Say" shows that writing well means mastering some key rhetorical moves, the most important of which involves summarizing what others have said ("they say") to set up one’s own argument ("I say").

In addition to explaining the basic moves, this book provides writing templates that show students explicitly how to make these moves in their own writing. Now available in two versions, with and without an anthology of 32 readings.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • December 2008
  • ISBN 978-0-393-93174-7
  • 5.3 × 7.4 in / 507 pages
  • Sales Territory: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Demystifies academic argumentation.” — Patricia Bizzell, College of the Holy Cross

“The argument of this book is important--that there are 'moves' to academic writing . . . and that knowledge of them can be generative. The template format is a good way to demystify the moves that matter. I like this book a lot.” — David Bartholomae, University of Pittsburgh

“Demystifies rhetorical moves, tricks of the trade that many students are unsure about. It's reasonable, helpful, nicely written--and hey, it's true. I would have found it immensely helpful myself in high school and college.” — Mike Rose, University of California, Los Angeles

“The new reading chapter gives readers a roadmap for following the moves authors make as they situate their discussions in larger conversations--and gets past the agree/disagree pattern of response. The idea that any text is part of a larger conversation is as helpful for reading as it is for writing.” — Eileen Seifert, DePaul University

“What effect has "They Say" had on my students' writing? They are finally entering the Burkian parlor of the university. . . . The only thing that's been lacking is readings, so I'm thrilled to see this new version.” — Margaret Weaver, Missouri State University

“I like the readings--they're current, and relevant to students' lives. They present a well-balanced range of different ideological perspectives--and they don't shy away from some pretty controversial issues. They will provide a fertile ground for class discussions, and students will definitely enjoy writing about them.” — Tina Zigon, SUNY Buffalo

“Excellent explanations of the instinctive moves that good writers make. A very useful teaching book.” — Elizabeth McKetta, University of Texas, Austin