Synthesis Essay

As noted in the agenda, you should read the Syllabus Prompt carefully; it’s in the front of your Everything’s an Argument book. I won’t re-write the prompt here, but I do want to lay out some key elements to consider:

  1. The Purpose: This essay is designed to help you read about a complex issue–such as Health Surveillance, Social Media & Privacy, or Urban Sprawl–and to understand the different perspectives on that issue.  Then, of course, you will add your own voice to the conversation.
  2. The Rhetorical Situation: Remember, your audience for this essay is the UTA student body. And you are writing for a fictional “journal” published here at UTA.  So, how might that shape your tone? How do you persuade other students that you are right about this issue?
  3. The Claim and the “They Say”: The point of your claim is to show what you think and how it relates to the other writers’ ideas.  There are essentially three ways to formulate a claim for this essay.  After reading all of the articles in your cluster, you can
    • Choose a few to agree with mostly, but note a difference (“They say…and I mostly agree, but here’s another consideration….”).
    • Choose one that you disagree with (“They say… and I disagree; here’s why…”).
    • Choose your own idea entirely and mostly disagree with the others (“They say…but here is what I think…”).
  4. The Structure: As in the other essays, the synthesis will include six sections: the intro, three distinct reasons, the naysayer, and the conclusion.  This structure should be clear in your claim and topic sentences.
  5. The Evidence: You should work to prove each of your points, and the only way to do so is to use evidence.  In this essay, that evidence comes either from the articles or from your own experience.  So, make sure to cite the articles–aim for two sources per paragraph. That will keep you from forgetting to synthesize sources. And give us examples from your life. Prove your case.
  6. The Appeals: In this essay, there are NOT paragraphs that focus specifically on ethos, pathos, and logos. Instead, you will be using these rhetorical appeals as you write, as we always do when persuading others to our side.  For instance, when you work to engage the audience in the intro–maybe with a joke or powerful quote–then you are using pathos.  When you cite the sources fairly and correctly, you are proving your ethos.  And the strength of your argument and evidence will show how you use logos.
  7. Requirements: This essay should be six pages, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font, etc.–all in MLA format. You should also cite three of the articles in your cluster. It is due on the last day of class.

Those are the key points, but again, be sure to read the entire prompt.  It walks you through the various steps that will help you as you draft and revise.  As always, feel free to send me any questions you have about the prompt.

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