Synthesis #2 Assignment Sheet

Adapted from an assignment sheet created by Rich Miller, Director of Composition


The last major assignment of the semester is also the longest and requires the most work with argument and revision. I hope you are up to the challenge. This final Synthesis #2 essay must address one of five questions:

Is the solution to the negative power of words to change negative behaviors in the world (Lakoff) or simply to stop using negative words (Lawrence)? Search for sources on dehumanizing words for enemies, four-letter words, and racial and ethnic slurs. A good source to start with is
Hughes, Geoffrey. An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World.

Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2006. ebrary. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Which should be more important to us, the pecuniary rewards of work emphasized by Krugman and Saez or the nonpecuniary rewards introduced, if not emphasized, by Reich (par. 36)?
Should the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Respository project be restarted?
What is Darwin’s great achievement? See in addition to the assigned readings,
Klinkenborg, Verlyn. Darwin at 200: The Ongoing Force of His Unconventional Idea. New York Times 12 Feb. 2009. A 34.

Across the Curriculum Reader. Ed. Gilbert Muller. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. 295-97/711-13. Print.
Is patient modesty more important than the medical benefits of a detailed physical exam?
Include at least 7 secondary sources. Four of these 7 sources must be essays or parts of books from the Sawyer Library catalog or databases. You should also draw on readings from Graff and Birkenstein’s They Say / I Say or Across the Curriculum Reader. You may certainly use items found in your Bibliography assignment or that you used in writing Synthesis # 1.

This final synthesis essay gives you a chance to really stretch your writing muscles and discuss your topic in numerous ways to persuade your reader. Of course, this is an argument synthesis so you are arguing a specific point and using sources to help your point come to light and appear logical and persuasive. Your sources will be valuable in providing examples or support for your ideas as well as counter arguments or ideas that you will shoot down or dismiss as you argue yourself.

The Assignment

Compose a 10 page/7 source argument synthesis. Remember, you must argue a position in this essay and use sources to help prove your point. I am also asking that you include a counter argument or two to show your versatility in arguing and seeing different sides of the topic.

The objective of this assignment is NOT to make you an expert in linguistics or economics or nuclear physics or evolution or medical ethics, but to give you practice in constructing an argument (your I say in response to the they say of other writers), in using a system of citation and documentation (in this case, MLA style), and in synthesizing a variety of sources with your own ideas into a coherent essay.

Composing Advice

As with Synthesis #1 you want your sources to have a dialogue and work on your terms. Do not simply support one of your sources as the only way to see something; instead, decide your approach and use the sources to help you build points. You may certainly string together points that you like from several articles and combine them into a persuasive statement of your own. This is one way to see how a synthesis builds. Your job is to conduct the orchestra and use the skills you have summarizing, critiquing and arguing to bring the reader to your point of view.

Ten pages and 7 sources might seem a monstrous task as you first read this. But slow down a minute. If you break your argument into three or four main points and build each point at 2 or so pages, you have quite a bit there. Expect a page or so for the introduction and conclusion, each, and you are right around 9 or 10 pages. So work on this essay in chunks and perhaps think about your sources coming in line with these chunks too. Could this mean that you are writing 3 or 4 small critique papers and then revising to make them all flow together? It could. In and out of class, we’ll work on drafting Synthesis # 2 in stages.

Counter Arguments

At some point in your essay, you are required to discuss opposing points of view to your thesis. Dealing with counter arguments can be a big plus for you as you either shoot them down or acknowledge their point of view and move on. We will work with counter arguments in class discussion as well as in They Say/I Say.

Nuts and Bolts

Typed, double-space, 1″ margins. Please use Standard Written English! MLA Style and Works Cited Page please.


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