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Signal the Use of a Source, cont.
Example: The Strategies in Context

Read through this example in MLA style and jot down what techniques it uses to transition to cited material that you’ve learned about in the "Signal the Use of a Source" handout.

Donatello, along with Lorenzo Ghiberti and Nanni di Banco, is considered to be one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance sculpture. Donatello’s sculptures represent a break from the past. According to Gombrick, Gothic statues hovered at the side of porches in calm and solemn rows, looking like beings from a different world (173). But Donatello’s sculptures stand firmly on the ground, and their faces show energy and concentration. Donatello’s sculptures represent a change from the past because they introduce a new way of handling space. His sculptures might give an illusion of great depth, but they are shallow. He accomplished this illusion through manipulating shades of light and dark. Parsons discusses the importance of Donatello’s work and this new strategy: “Donatello most fully investigated such basic artistic problems of the time as the relationship of form to space and the opposing claims of realism and idealism” (283). Ultimately, Donatello’s new technique allowed him to explore a strategy for handling space, which made him and the artists he influenced represent a turning point in art history.

This example shows two strategies that you’ve learned about. First with “according to Gobrick,” you can see another example of the introductory phrases technique. The second example occurs later in the passage: “Parsons discusses the importance of Donatello’s work and this new strategy.” This second example is an example of an introductory sentence.

Unlike the examples in the main part of the handout, in this example, you can see how signaling your sources works within a paragraph. This paragraph illustrates two key points.

One: Source material cannot make your points for you; it merely serves to back up your point. In the example above, the writer cites two authors to support her points. One of her points is that “Donatello’s sculptures represent a break from the past.” For this point, she cites Gombrick to elaborate on how Donatello’s sculptures represent a turning point in art history. Later in the paragraph, the writer cites Parsons. The writer’s point is that “He [Donatello] accomplished this illusion through shades of light and dark.” (This point is actually part of the larger argument in the paragraph—that Donatello’s sculptures represent a break from the past.) The writer uses the source material from Parsons to indicate the importance of both Donatello’s work and to explain the new strategy. Additionally, the writer doesn’t begin the paragraph with cited information because she has to introduce her point for the paragraph in a topic sentence.

Two: You have to comment on source material to help show how it proves your points. The writer’s first point is that “Donatello’s sculptures represent a break from the past.” She cites Gombrick to support this point with authority, and then she elaborates on that material and transitions to the next point: “But, Donatello’s sculptures stand firmly on the ground, their faces show energy and concentration. Donatello’s sculptures . . . ” Essentially, the writer 1.) shows how Donatello’s sculptures break from the past (they stand firmly on the ground) and 2.) then she transitions to her next point (new way of handling space is an example of the break from the past). Her next point functions the same way. She introduces the point (he accomplished this illusion); provides additional information (quotation from Parsons); and then discusses this point. Since it’s the end of the paragraph, the writer also shows the relationship among ideas in the paragraph. The writer can’t end a paragraph with cited information because then she wouldn’t be commenting on or providing connections for her reader.

For more information on commenting on source material, see the Academic Center handout “Signal Your Commentary on Source Material.”