Try your hand at summarizing Jill Lepore’s essay, “The Prism: Privacy in the Age of Publicity.” Keep in mind the tips Graff and Birkenstein provide:
- Describe the essay in a way Lepore could recognize as being true
- Play the “believing game” and be open to what Lepore is trying to do with this essay
- Avoid just making a list of things she says. Instead, select details that go together and lead the reader towards a point (even if you’re not sure yet what that point might be).
- Find out who Jill Lepore is. Knowing something about her background could help you understand the kinds of essays she writes and what she wants readers of this essay to think about.
- Remember to include the author’s name and the title of the piece in your summary. It can be helpful sometimes to note when and where the article was published, too. Even if you don’t include that information in the summary itself, this information can help you clarify the relationship to other articles we’ll read, and to imagine the kind of audience she has in mind.
- Look up the words and concepts you don’t know. Even familiar terms like “secrecy” or “privacy” are being used in particular ways in this essay.
Now raise two questions for discussion:
- One should be about the content of the piece (something you want clarified, something that can probably be answered by looking in the text).
- One should be analytical in nature (something that has more than one possible answer, a question the essay raises for you but which may not be answered in the essay itself).
- Working through these questions gets you started on thinking about the response you want to make to Lepore and, possibly, how you should revise your summary later.