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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $40.00
  • June 2018
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-63168-5
  • 800 pages
  • Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

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They Say / I Say

The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings

Fourth Edition


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


The best-selling book on academic writing, with readings

The book that has taught millions of students to present their arguments as a response to what “they say” has been expanded to define as broadly as possible who’s included in “they.” Readings demonstrate the moves that matter in academic writing and represent a multitude of perspectives. The Fourth Edition includes an anthology of 40 readings—half of which are NEW—that will prompt students to listen, think, and write about five important issues, including NEW “How Can We Bridge the Differences That Divide Us?”


Readings on issues that matter

The Fourth Edition includes 40 readings (22 of which are NEW) that represent a multitude of perspectives organized around 5 conversations. Michelle Alexander on mass incarceration; Sherry Turkle on romance in a digital age; J.D. Vance on the American Dream that is vanishing for so many Americans—these are just a few examples of the readings that will prompt students to listen, think, and write. 

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 that writing well means engaging with and listening to others’ views

The book and its accompanying media teach the rhetorical moves that are central to academic writing across the disciplines. 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 to the edition

    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. “Analyze This”: Writing in the Social Sciences

    16. How Can We Bridge the Differences That Divide Us?
    *Sean Blanda, The Other Side Is Not Dumb
    *danah boyd, Why America Is Self-Segregating
    *Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (documented)
    *J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
    *Gabriela Moro, Minority Student Clubs: Segregation or Integration? (student essay, documented)
    *Robert Leonard, Why Rural America Voted for Trump
    *Joseph Stiglitz, A Tax System Stacked against the 99 Percent
    *Barack Obama, Howard Commencement Address

    17. Is College the Best Option?

    Stephanie Owen and Isabel Sawhill, Should Everyone Go to College? (documented)
    Sanford Ungar, The New Liberal Arts
    Charles Murray, Are Too Many People Going to College? (documented)
    Liz Addison, Two Years Are Better than Four
    Gerald Graff, Hidden Intellectualism
    Mike Rose, Blue-Collar Brilliance
    *Ben Casselman, Shut Up about Harvard
    *Steve Kolowich, On the Front Lines of a New Culture War

    18. Are We in a Race against the Machine?

    Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid?
    Clive Thompson, Smarter than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better
    Michaela Cullington, Does Texting Affect Writing? (student essay)
    *Jenna Wortham, How I Learned to Love Snapchat
    *Carole Cadwalladr, Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search
    *Kenneth Goldsmith, Go Ahead: Waste Time on the Internet
    Sherry Turkle, No Need to Call
    *Zeynep Tufecki, Does a Protest’s Size Matter?

    19. What’s Gender Got to Do with It?
    Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All
    Richard Dorment, Why Men Still Can’t Have It All”
    *Raynard Kington, I’m Gay and African American . . .
    *Laurie Frankel, From He to She in First Grade
    *Andrew Reiner, Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest
    Stephen Mays, What about Gender Roles in Same-Sex Relationships? (student essay)
    *Kate Crawford, Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem
    *Nicholas Eberstadt, Men Without Work (documented)

    20. What’s There to Eat?
    Michael Pollan, Escape from the Western Diet
    *Olga Khazan, Why Don’t Convenience Stores Sell Better Food?
    Mary Maxfield, Food as Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating (student essay)
    David Zinczenko, Don’t Blame the Eater
    Radley Balko, What You Eat Is Your Business
    Michael Moss, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
    David H. Freedman, How Junk Food Can End Obesity
    *Sara Goldrick-Rab, Katharine Broton, Emily Brunjes Colo, Expanding the National School Lunch Program to Higher Education

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    Buy They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings and get The Little Seagull Handbook for just $12.50 more. Buy the package for $62.50

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    Buy They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings and get The Little Seagull Handbook with Exercises for just $12.50 more. Buy the package for $62.50