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Writing Assignment : The Synthesis Paper

We are aiming at a one to two page paper for the fifth week of the class which will synthesize the works of at least three of the authors we have read. These authors include:

  • Nutting
    • Plato
    • Sophocles' Oedipus
    • Brecht
    • Pinter
    • Bacon
    • Peirce

(quite an impressive list).

We want you to make an arguable connection between at least three of these works (a thesis) which you will be able to prove in supporting paragraphs and tie together in a conclusion. These connections may be similarities, differences, discussions of how characters (Oedipus, Galileo or others) exemplify theories espoused by any other authors, or any other connections you see.

You will have no other assignments for the week - only the writing assignment.

Let's work on these in steps so that you have a manageable task. The first step - due on Sunday by 6PM, April 29th , is the posting of your thesis paragraph. You will post into a folder which belongs to a group to which you have been assigned. Groups are identified by numbers. You will find your group listed below (to be posted) In that paragraph, you will state your argument (the conclusion youhope to prove) and the works which will be used to prove it. For the following Monday, April 30th , you will have posted responses to your groups postings, helping your group members evaluate the quality and provability of their theses. These will be read by you and you will post your full first draft of the two page paper by Wednesday evening, May 2nd. Again, feedback to your group is to be given no later than Friday, May4th, by midnight and the final draft of your paper, including revisions, should be posted to your folder by Tuesday May 8th. There are no other reading assignments or study or discussion questions for the week. You may however, wish to start reading the Epistemology lectures if you like. The discussion of them will start on Friday May 4th and will be due to be completed on the same Tuesday as your final draft.

The Groups:
You have been randomly assigned to groups of three and four. You are all expected to read the papers in your own group folder and comment. Please make sure you do this as expeditiously as possible so that your group members can read your comments and decide what to accept and rewrite based on your suggestions. Please do not wait for the last minute. You are, of course, free to read anyone else's paper in any other group. Click here for group assignment.

  • What should I comment on in these drafts?
    We know that nobody is an expert and of course it is up to the writer to accept or reject your respectful suggestions. Do remember to keep your criticisms about the work - therefore they should not be taken personally by anyone.
    You are looking for the following things:
  • Is the thesis clear? limited to something provable? Concerned with the works we have read rather than the world at large? Is it arguable?
  • Do I understand what each paragraph is saying?
  • Does each paragraph relate back to the thesis of the paper or is it not really relevant? (remember - a short paper cannot tell the reader everything you know about the pieces studied and if you try to do that you will go way afield of the case you are trying to make).
  • Can I follow the reasoning easily? Are there transitions from one paragraph to the next which help me to understand where the writer is going?
  • Are the mechanics good: spelling, grammar, citations, sentence construction?
  • Is there a conclusion? Does the conclusion follow from the proof used in the paper and is it directly tied to the proposed argument (thesis) in paragraph one? Am I convinced?

This may seem complicated, however, it is really the same set of standards and the same principles you followed in the paragraphs you have written.

Feel free to solicit help from your seminar group or the entire class. You should be looking for the same structure in the two page paper, as you have in a successful single thesis paragraph. You will need a well explained argument in paragraph one. Some papers will need to define certain terms or portions of the argument more fully in a second paragraph. There should be at least one paragraph of support for each author you are citing, and each of those paragraphs should include quotes (with citation form) and your explication (explanation in your own words of exactly what those quotes mean) as well as a statement or reference to show how that quotation supports your thesis statement (from paragraph one).

Remember that your reader will have read the same works you've read so you need not explain the totality of what each piece is. But your reader cannot read your mind and needs to be taken carefully and clearly down the road of your argument. Don't assume that your reader agrees with you about your thesis, about the meaning of what your quoted evidence are saying, or that s/he knows what you mean. Explain. Have others read and comment on the clarity of your argument as well as its validity. That is not cheating - that's working.