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Argumentative Synthesis Essay Prompt
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Length: 4-5 pp., double-spaced
Format: Times 12, one-inch margins.
Citation: MLA in-text citation style; include a properly formatted Works Cited Page
This assignment encourages you to demonstrate your ability to synthesize texts such as staking out key points, identifying fundamental points of agreement or disagreement, and assessing their quality and significance. With this in mind, read “The Telephone” (pp. 95-101) and “Learning from Ladakh” (pp. 165-69) from One World, Many Cultures and write an argumentative synthesis assessing them.
A good starting point is to place the essays side by side and to read them several times underlying key words or points and reflecting on the message they are trying to convey. You might, for example, look at the ways in which the works are similar and the ways in which they differ and list your findings separately. In addition to discovering potential areas of agreement or disagreement, you should identify each writer’s purpose and audience and the aspect of human life they convey; identify what appeals of argument (ethos, logos, and pathos) the writers rely on; and then weigh their effectiveness. Jot down notes as you read, analyze, and assess the works. From your notes you should be able to discover a thematic relationship between the texts. Remember, the thematic link you have established should serve as a thesis statement for your argumentative synthesis.
A good argumentative synthesis paper demonstrates the ability to synthesize sources. In particular, using a compare and contrast organizational pattern, it reveals how both works are similar or different on some fundamental level without coloring such assessment with personal biases and beliefs. Again, the essay takes a position and develops it with sufficient reasons and evidence.
After you finish writing your argument synthesis, evaluate your essay in terms of the following:
- Am I making an argument? If so, did I offer reasons and evidence from the sources in support of my argument?
- Did I incorporate a brief summary of the sources into my argumentative synthesis?
- Is my analysis contributing to or contradicting the argument these writers make?
- Did I relate the sources to one another in terms of theme or did I make connections between ideas expressed in them?
- Did I identify the purpose of the writers, the prejudices they have, and the assumptions they make about their audience?
- Did I discuss the modes of persuasion these authors rely on?
- Did I analyze the stylistic features of the sources: word-choice, the use of short or long sentences or a combination of both, the use of jargon, or the use of language that is accessible to readers such as myself?
Remember: If your answer to any of these questions is “NO” reread the sources and analyze them in view of the questions asked. The best argumentative synthesis will present an argument, offer a detailed analysis of the sources, and supports the argument with explanations and evidence from both sources.