When you’re reading for the conversation, it’s particularly important to track the moves the writer is making. Is he or she offering background? Mark it. Defining terms? Mark it.

This guy has the moves like Jagger. You could have the moves like Gee.

This guy has moves like Jagger. You could have moves like Gee if you pay attention to them.

Here are some typical writers’ moves for the kinds of reading you’ll likely encounter in college:

  • Offering Background
  • Analyzing an Example
  • Interpreting an Example
  • Borrowing Expert Authority
  • Extending Another Writer’s Argument
  • Presenting Another Writer’s Argument
  • Countering Another Writer’s Argument
  • Making an Argument
  • Defining Terms
  • Describing a Method
  • Criticizing Another Writer’s Method
  • Revealing Tacit Values or Assumptions

Keeping track of a writer’s moves will enable you to better see the conversation in his or her text. By understand how he or she is making use of his or her sources, you can distinguish between what they say and what he or she says in response and consider your response to all the voices in the text.