Synthesis Thesis Statements: According to CILTE (p. xxiv), synthesis thesis statements answer the question: “What can be said about what these two authors say?” They do NOT answer the questions: “How can I convince people to think my way about the topic” “What do I think of the information/topic?” Keeping these questions in mind, your thesis for the synthesis paper will need to strike a balance between being too general and too specific. The thesis statement should be broad enough to encompass the meaning from both texts, and at the same time, specific enough that the thesis does not simply state a general claim. The thesis should not be a simple compare-contrast statement about the topic, nor a simple summary statement of the two texts Consider the following example synthesis thesis statements between Cottle and Godsey. Which do you think are effective, and which do you think need more work? Explain why. 1. Both Cottle and Godsey discuss men’s body image, but Cottle focuses on the economic side of the issue while Godsey focuses on the emotional and social side of the issue. 2. There are many similarities and differences between Cottle’s argument and Godsey’s. 3. Men are now becoming as concerned with their appearance as women have always been. 4. According to Cottle and Godsey, due to media influences, men are now becoming as concerned with their appearance as women, and this has economic, social, and emotional effects. Now write your own synthesis thesis statement for these two texts: Synthesis Paper Organization Synthesis papers can be organized in several different ways. However, certain components must be covered in a synthesis essay. In general, synthesis papers will contain four major sections: 1. An introduction in which the reader should be oriented towards the subject in an attention- grabbing way. In addition, very brief, descriptive statements should identify the two (or more) texts that are being synthesized in the paper. Most importantly, a strong, analytical thesis statement should be clearly stated. 2. Concise summaries of the two texts to be synthesized. The two paragraphs following the introduction should give concise, accurate summaries of the two texts being synthesized. You should be careful here not to over- or under-due the summaries. Each summary should be a well developed paragraph in its own right, but the paragraphs should be brief. The summaries should follow the guidelines we have discussed in class and that are listed on the summary guidelines handout. It’s important to remember that the main focus of the paper should be on the paragraphs that bring together your synthesis points, not your summaries. The summaries are there to play a background role for your reader and to show your understanding of the text. Thus, I imagine that your introduction and two summaries will not go much past the first page of the essay. Summaries that are too long will dominate the paper and mean that not enough synthesis points will be discussed (especially if you are right at the 3-page minimum for this paper). 3. Synthesis paragraphs in which the thesis is supported and the ideas of the two texts are brought together. Each paragraph will focus on one supporting point and include references to both texts being synthesized. While differences between the texts can be identified, the paragraphs should not simply compare/contrast what the essays say. Rather, the paragraphs should bring ideas together from both texts to create increased understanding of the issue (e.g., see the Freire and Plato student example in CILTE). The focus of the paper should be these synthesis paragraphs. These paragraphs will make up the bulk of the paper. The organization of these paragraphs will depend on what you have to say, and you can consider which points are most important to order these paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain paraphrases and textual examples (WITH CITATIONS!), but focus on combining (or synthesizing) the ideas from the text, not simply summarizing them. When relevant, the rhetorical situations of the texts may be included in these synthesis paragraphs (but there will most likely NOT be an entire paragraph only on the rhetorical situation). 4. A conclusion that rephrases your thesis and provides a wrap-up of the topic. While no new information should be introduced that advances the synthesis claim, you do not have to restrict yourself to paraphrasing or summarizing what you have already said in the paper.
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