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Susan Cain and the Art of Quoting


The ultimate goal of writing is to introduce new ideas and information into the discussion, not to produce derivative content. Nevertheless, using statements and suggestions proposed by others is an essential strategy to enhance the credibility of a paper. Quotations are a particularly useful tool to that end, as they allow the reader to familiarize themselves with the original text and evaluate your interpretation of it. Susan Cain demonstrates her ability to use the technique during her critique of Harvard Business School’s promotion of extroversion.

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Framing the Quotations

The passage in question opens on page 48 with a proposition that directly contests the values established in the prior text. Next, Cain provides an example of a situation and concludes that the adverse outcome of that scenario is consistent with her idea (48). She uses a quote to give a participant’s perspective on the event, which reinforces the original idea and supplies a new topic for further discussion. The rest of the passage, which continues until page 54, maintains the narrative through the use of numerous examples, concluding by restating and reinforcing the original point.

The first quote mentioned in the paragraph above is used to support the author’s claim. In my opinion, its framing is consistent with Birkenstein and Graff, with “the statement introducing it serving as the top slice of bread and the explanation following it serving as the bottom slide” (47). Cain establishes the statement that the group ignored a knowledgeable student, then the quote implies that the group failed because of the behavior, and the paragraph below draws parallels to real-life situations (48). The quotation is chosen carefully to supplement information that was not present in the framing text and introduced within an appropriate context.

Blending the Viewpoints

The rest of the passage is dominated by quotes and references to the opinions and works of other people, but I believe that this trend, while somewhat extreme, is still consistent with the rules of TSIS. Birkenstein and Graff demand that the author’s own words “echo just enough of [the person quoted’s] language while still moving the discussion in the [author’s] own direction” (49-50). Cain manages to accomplish the goal, and the notion she puts forward at the beginning of the passage (48) is markedly different from that at the end (54). As the narrative progresses, the idea changes from a suggestion to a strong assertion.

The shifts are accomplished through the use of statements that frame the author’s convictions to dramatically change the topic and provide a new idea that then receives support via extensive quotations. An example can be seen after the explanation of the “Bus to Abilene” phenomenon, when Cain claims that “we are similarly inclined to empower dynamic speakers” (50). Initially, no evidence is offered for the proposition, but it serves to introduce a quotation that supports its idea. As such, the sentence changes the focus of the discussion, gradually leading to the conclusion that extroversion is associated with leadership but not necessary for it.

Works Cited

Birkenstein, Cathy, and Gerald Graff. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. W. W. Norton & Co., 2016.

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.

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