Précis Assignment

Composing a Concise Summary

The term précis refers to something that is “precise,” a piece of writing that offers a short, concise, yet thorough account of a larger work. A précis is a brief summary meant to represent all of the fundamental, main points of an original work, omitting details, and providing the reader a clear understanding of the primary area(s) of focus in the work being summarized.

As such, composing a précis is an exercise in prioritization of points or arguments and constant refinement of prose. A précis indicates for your reader the extent of your comprehension of a larger work, the level of your prioritization skills in terms of critically assessing a larger work, and your concision skills – the ways in which you are able to edit your own work and conform to a very limited word count.

For this assignment, you will compose a précis for Tricia Logan’s essay, “Memory, Erasure, and National Myth.” You will be using this piece for your argumentative essay, based on the Doris McCarthy Gallery exhibit, “Unsettling,” which we will view in class on September 21st.

A précis should be written entirely in your own words – this means no direct quotations are permitted for this assignment. All references to the author’s work should be framed in summaries and paraphrases, using appropriate citation, as needed.

The length of your précis will be determined by the length of the original text; a précis should be no more than 20% the length of the original. Assignments that exceed this length will not be successful. Logan’s essay is about 14 pages (not including notes), so your précis should be approximately 2.5 pages, at most.


The purpose of this assignment is to help refine your summarizing and paraphrasing skills, to teach you to write with precision and concision, and to ensure a thorough understanding of the arguments presented in the subject of your Argumentative Essay assignment.


Do include a separate Works Cited page with the correct bibliographical information for Logan’s essay, in MLA 8. Do not use a title page. Your essay must be typed (double-spaced) in Times New Roman, 12-point font, with standard 1” (2.54cm) margins. Follow formatting guidelines as outlined in MLA 8 style and citation guides. A link to this resource is available on Blackboard.

Last Updated on March 12, 2020

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