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The Synthesis Paper


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A brief guide to writing the Synthesis Paper

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The Synthesis Paper

  1. 1. The Synthesis Paper: How Do I Write This Thing?Monday, October 10, 11
  2. 2. The Synthesis Paper: Making Connections Draft 1 Due Date: Fri 21 Oct Draft 2 Due Date: Fri 28 Oct Length:  5 to 6 pages (1500 - 1800 words) Sources:  at least two (Berger, Sontag, and/or Barthes) Before diving fully into the final paper of the quarter, it is useful to spend some time reflecting on the work you have already done in reading Sontag, Berger, and Barthes.  In the form of an academic essay, I would like you to make some connections between the three texts and the ideas they have presented to you.  For the assignment, you must work with at least two of the three texts presented so far this quarter.Monday, October 10, 11
  3. 3. What’s a “Synthesis?” Short story: it’s an attempt to look at how two texts intersect—in this way, you can think of it like chemistry. We we take two deadly elements—say, sodium and chlorine—and combine them, they turn into something completely new: table salt (sodium chloride). Your synthesis paper will be a similar sort of chemical reaction. We know that all of these authors care deeply about images, and all of them are especially concerned with the problems of images. Now, take it deeper. How do their ideas and concerns relate to each other? Any paper that makes a complex, debatable argument about the intersections and connections of the authors’ ideas is acceptable. Monday, October 10, 11
  4. 4. •Points of agreement.  Try to find one idea that the authors seem to agree upon—examine how this idea works in both texts, then think a bit about the larger implications of this idea.  If it’s true that two (or three) authors agree on this point, how do the rest of their ideas work together?  And why is this important, interesting, or notable? •Points of conflict.  Alternately, you can seek out an idea that two or three of the authors seem to feel differently about.  Examine the contested idea in each text, then think about the larger implications of this disagreement.  You don’t need to “side” with one author or the other, a nuanced discussion of the disagreement and its importance can be an argument in itself.  Feel free, however, to argue for one idea over another.  Be sure to also address the deeper implications of your finding. •Hegelian Synthesis.  Sometimes, when we examine two radically different points (a “thesis” and an “antithesis”), we find that there exists an even larger truth that contains them both—that allows both to be true, despite the fact that they seem to be contradictory.  This is called a Hegelian synthesis.  And you can try to build one of your own, as follows: Find ideas in two (or all three) texts that appear to be in conflict.  Ideally, these are arguments that both seem to be true—even though they seem to be in conflict. Ask yourself:  if two conflicting ideas are true, what larger truth, somewhere above them, must exist? Write a paper that explores the two ideas, the conflict between them, and the larger truth that unites them both.Monday, October 10, 11
  5. 5. REQUIREMENTS:  All synthesis papers must include the following: •A central, complex, debatable argument that the entire paper supports. •Extensive quoting and analysis of at least two of the three texts read so far this quarter. •MLA formatting and citation conventions. •Academic voice and mechanicsMonday, October 10, 11
  6. 6. USING THE READING JOURNALS:  It’s expected that you return to your original reading journals and use them to support your ideas.  An excellent first step might be to first reread them.  This will help remind you of what you first spotted in the readings themselves.  It’s also expected that you might use some parts of your e-journals in your new essay.  Feel free to consider the reading journals as a set of rough drafts for this paper. As you combine and connect your ideas, revise your reading journals for mechanics and clarity—your goal for this paper is a nuanced, complex, academic essay with a credible, authoritative voice.  You may need to rewrite some sections of your reading journals before including them. A simple paste-together of the six reading journals, however, is not acceptable.  You must make a central argument and then use quotes and analysis of the authors to back that argument up.  Cannibalize the e-journals; chop them up, string them back together, but make sure you use them as raw materials for a focused, structured essay. WORKING TO THE PAPER:  It’s also expected that parts of this paper may appear in your final project of the quarter.  Right now you are developing the complex, academic ideas that may appear in your own paper.  For the meantime, don’t worry too much about the applicability of these ideas to your own topic.  Know, however, that the work in this paper can be used in your final research project.Monday, October 10, 11
  7. 7. Intersections: • “The Abyss” of the image (Berger/ Barthes) and Distance (Sontag) • The “Subjective” and the “Punctum” • Advertising (Berger), Propaganda (Sontag), and the Unary Image (Barthes) • Ambiguity in photographyMonday, October 10, 11
  8. 8. ...But I don’t like those ideas.Monday, October 10, 11
  9. 9. ...Do I have to use pictures?Monday, October 10, 11
  10. 10. ...What if I’m confused?Monday, October 10, 11
  11. 11. ...I’m scared. I think I’m going to fail. I think I should never have come to school in the first place. I think, maybe, I should just, you know, go watch The Biggest Loser until this paper is late, and then drop out, and then feel awful about myself. And then watch more of The Biggest Loser.Monday, October 10, 11
  12. 12. Monday, October 10, 11