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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $22.00
  • June 2018
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-63167-8
  • 328 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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They Say / I Say

The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing

Fourth Edition


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


The best-selling book that demystifies academic writing

This book identifies the key rhetorical moves in academic writing. It shows students how to frame their arguments as a response to what others have said and provides templates to help them start making the moves. The fourth edition features many NEW examples from academic writing, a NEW chapter on Entering Online Discussions, and a thoroughly updated chapter on Writing in the Social Sciences. Finally, two NEW readings provide current examples of the rhetorical moves in action.


Demystifies academic writing

They Say / I Say teaches students the rhetorical moves found in persuasive writing across all disciplines. The authors focus on the central rhetorical move that gives the book its title: how to begin with what others have said (“they say”) in order to set up one’s own argument (“I say”). The approach is practical and effective, and the language is engaging and jargon-free.  

Shows how writing well means engaging with the views of others

Students learn to develop ideas not in isolation but as a response to what others are already saying. For example, “I disagree with X’s view that ___ because ___,” “Although I agree with X up to a point, I cannot accept her assumption that ___.”  

Provides templates for making the rhetorical moves that matter

Students need a place to start. The straightforward templates help students with the structure and language to make sophisticated rhetorical moves in their writing.  

Now with more support—in print and online

Instructor resources now include more ideas and strategies for teaching academic writing. A print Instructor’s Guide, NEW online tutorials, and a blog updated regularly with timely readings help you plan and teach your writing course. 

    * New

    Preface: Demystifying Academic Conversation
    Introduction: Entering the Conversation


    Part 1. “THEY SAY”
    1. “They Say”: Starting with What Others Are Saying
    2. “Her Point Is”: The Art of Summarizing
    3. “As He Himself Puts It”: The Art of Quoting


    Part 2. “I SAY”
    4. “Yes / No / Okay, But”: Three Ways to Respond
    5. “And Yet”: Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
    6. “Skeptics May Object”: Planting a Naysayer in Your Text
    7. “So What? Who Cares?”: Saying Why It Matters


    8. “As a Result”: Connecting the Parts
    9. "You Mean I Can Just Say It That Way?": Academic Writing Doesn't Mean Setting Aside Your Own Voice
    10. “But Don't Get Me Wrong”: The Art of Metacommentary
    11. “He Says Contends”: Using the Templates to Revise


    12. “I Take Your Point”: Entering Class Discussions
    13. Don't Assume They'll Scroll Up: Entering Online Conversations
    14. “What’s Motivating This Writer?”: Reading for the Conversation
    15. "On Closer Examination": Entering Conversations about Literature
    16. “The Data Suggest”: Writing in the Sciences
    17. “Analyze This”: Writing in the Social Sciences


    David Zinczenko, Don’t Blame the Eater
    Gerald Graff, Hidden Intellectualism

    *Michael Littman, "Rise of the Machines" Is Not a Likely Future
    *Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
    Flannery O’Connor, Everything that Rises Must Converge


    Index of Templates

Package Offers

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    Buy They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing and get The Little Seagull Handbook for just $12.50 more. Buy the package for $40.00

  2. Book Image

    Buy They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing and get The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises for just $12.50 more. Buy the package for $40.00