Essay 2 – Summary of “Myth”


Fall, 2014
Instructor: Prof. Mitchell Smith

Essay #2 Instruction Sheet
“The Myth of Violence in the Old West” Summary 

Length: 1½ to 2 pages (about 325 to 500 words)

Due Date:  Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Assignment:  Write a multi-paragraph summary essay of “The Myth of Violence in the Old West” by Roger D. McGrath (p.20 – 23 of Robinson). Remember that a summary is a concise restatement in one’s own words of a longer document, but it can and should retain key words and some phrases. You must use at least one brief quotation, including an MLA in-text citation. You are also required to include an MLA works cited page. A summary is a shorter version of the original that highlights the major points from the original. The amount of condensation varies, so for this essay, shoot for about a page and a half (double-spaced) of text. A summary essay must follow these guidelines:

  1. Maintain meaning of the original
  2. No personal opinions
  3. No outside information
  4. Contain all the main points of the original
  5. Condensation

Purpose: The purpose is to help the audience get the meaning of the source essay in fewer words.

Audience: Imagine an audience that has not read the source essay and does not already know the subject matter well. (In other words, do not think of me as your audience).

Essay structure: Your essay should include a separate introductory paragraph and several body paragraphs, one for each of McGrath’s major points. In a summary, your introduction should identify the full title and full author name for the source essay. It should also explain the method and structure of the source essay; in this case you might explain the selection of Bodie as an ideal town for the author’s comparison of crime in the past and present. And your intro should end with a thesis, which in a summary will identify the source text’s thesis. So ideally, the intro paragraph would have a structure of Issue>Method>Thesis.

Paragraph structure: While we have not discussed paragraph structure in great depth yet, a couple points have been established. For academic papers, it is most useful to place Topic Sentences (TS) at the beginning of the paragraph so the reader knows what you will be talking about and what you have to say about it. For this paper, since I am asking for a condensation to one paragraph, your topic sentence will also be your thesis sentence.

Sentence structure: We have not discussed sentence variety in depth yet. Later we will study strategies for shaping sentences with adjectives, verb forms, and prepositional phrases.

Format: Use the correct MLA manuscript format (the sample page will remain posted on the course webpage and can be found in your Hacker text). Highlights include:

  • All essays must be typed and double-spaced
  • Margins must be 1-inch on all sides of the page
  • Use 12 point Courier or Times font
  • Each essay should have your name, professor name (“Smith”), course number (English 96), and date at the top left corner of the first page
  • The title (not underlined or italicized or in quotes) should be centered above the first paragraph.

Usage Errors: This is your second essay, and usage errors will impact your grade. You may make up to two errors per page without a penalty. More than that will result in a grade of NP (not passing) and a required revision. Beyond basic grammar and spelling skills that incoming 96 students are expected to know, you will not be held responsible for grammar issues that we have not yet covered in the course. You will be responsible for rules about the following in your essay:

  • Correct spelling and word choice
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Run-Together Sentences
  • Basic Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Homonym errors
  • Capitalization

As we write more essays and cover more sentence development elements, your responsibilities will increase.

Packet: Your pre-writings for this essay will include:

  • One-word summary outline
  • Rough draft
  • Peer review



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