What is a Synthesis, and Why Synthesize?
To synthesize means to juxtapose (put elements side-by-side for comparison) and combine separate elements that share common threads to form a coherent whole. We draw conclusions from, make observations about, and show connections between points that support a central claim through the examination process of synthesizing. When writing a literary argument synthesis, you will attempt to make sense of a literary text of your choice by examining literary criticism in the context of the argument you make about your chosen literary text. The ability to synthesize is an important skill because we are continuously bombarded with a dizzying variety of information and opinions that need sorting out and assessment. Moreover, it is always valuable and useful to know what others have to say about a topic in order to enhance your own understanding and argument.
Literary Argument Synthesis Goals:
A Literary Argument Research Essay makes an arguable claim about a literary text that is reinforced by both your points and the secondary source evidence you find.
Your goals are to:
1) Offer your reader opinions, analysis, and ideas about your literary argument regarding one text that
he/she may have not thought of before you pointed them out.
2) Provide thoughtful analysis of scholarship about your chosen literary text; the scholarship you analyze
and include in your essay will work to support your own argument about your chosen text. You may end up adding entirely new thoughts and/or perspectives concerning your examination of your chosen text and/or extending and developing an already established argument about the literary text.
3) Include ONE literary, scholarly secondary source in your Synthesis (see below for possible ways to use sources).
This literary argument synthesis will be the foundation for your final literary argument research essay; therefore, think very carefully about what you choose to write about because the goal is to expand this essay for your final literary argument research project.
Literary Argument Synthesis Directions:
1) For this essay, you may choose any poem, short story, or drama from our LIT book (including those we have covered in the discussion board forums). Remember, your choice must be able to sustain the length of this essay AND the length of the course’s final essay since you will most likely be using this essay as the foundation of your final essay (you may write a new essay for the course’s final essay if you choose, but most students use this synthesis essay as the foundation of their final essay and expand it). If you choose to write about poetry, consider writing about two poems that share a commonality that is conveyed through your argument (i.e. perhaps they both express the same theme, they both use the same literary element but in different ways, etc.).
2) You will focus on a specific aspect about your one chosen literary text from the bulleted list below and assert an arguable claim about that specific aspect.
? An arguable claim about how the text achieves or realizes a reoccurring theme**
? An arguable claim about a character’s role (function, importance), motivations, behaviors, interactions with others, etc. and the impact it has on the text as a whole (if you choose this topic, you may not use your Character Analysis essay; you must write a new essay if you choose to write about a character’s role)
? An arguable claim about the writer’s purpose and how the text achieves the writer’s purpose**
? An arguable claim about the role (function, importance) of the narrative’s (or narrator’s) point- of-view or the role of the speaker (in a poem) and the impact it has on the text as a whole
? An arguable claim about how any of the following specific literary elements function in the text and why they are important to the overall text: symbolism, imagery, dialogue, tone/mood, setting, props, stage directions, diction (word choice, figurative language such as metaphors and similes), structure, conflict(s), flashbacks/flashforwards, foreshadowing, and/or irony**
? An arguable claim about the historical and/or cultural time period in which the text was written and the time period’s effect or influence on the text as a whole
**Keep in mind that many literary elements will work together to achieve some united purpose; many times this purpose will be to reveal or emphasize a reoccurring theme or the writer’s overarching purpose.
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