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As you have already learned, the goal of an essay about literature is to offer readers an argument about the power, meaning, and structure of a piece of literature. This is the goal of the Synthesis Essay. This assignment calls on you to engage in conversation with other literary scholars as you continue to hone your skills in literary analysis.
This is a two-page assignment which, like the second Summary and Analysis, focuses on critical essays about a story rather than the story itself. A ‘synthesis’ essay involves putting together different elements and then creating something new out of them. In this case, the elements involved will be the two critical essays we have been discussing in class: Heritage and deracination in Walker’s `Everyday Use’ by David Cowart, and Fight vs. Flight: A Re-Evaluation of Dee in Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’ by Susan Farrell.
Task: to compare and contrast the two critics’ assessments of Dee and, using their thoughts, come to a conclusion about where you stand with this character.
The essay will consist of the following sections:
– an introduction in which you might present the character of Dee and briefly describe her as perhaps the most memorable character in the story. You might also introduce the essay by speaking more generally about the way in which fictional characters often draw different reactions from readers and/or viewers. Other ways of introducing the subject might also work.
This will be followed by:
– a paragraph of about half a page summarizing Cowart’s view of Dee
– a paragraph of about half a page summarizing Farrell’s contrary opinion
– a paragraph of about half a page- three quarters of a page detailing what both essays add to our understanding of this character and presenting your own opinions in response
Length: 2 pages, double-spaced, font 12
Please Note: This is not a research paper, so please do not do further research beyond these sources, and do not cite anything other than these three sources in your essay.
This assignment calls on you to develop skills in synthesis. You will need to position your argument in conversation with Cowart and Farrell. Academic scholarship is often described as “a conversation,” and that’s how you are being asked to treat your secondary sources.
The final result will be a 2-page essay that makes a cogent argument about the meaning, power, and/or structure of the primary text supported by deep and rich analysis of the story, and that responds to, complicates, and/or extends the arguments made by scholars.
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