Synthesis: Putting texts into dialogue Your task is to discuss two texts from your course readings critically and rhetorically with the goal of synthesizing connections across them. As you read ask yourself How does reading these texts together enrich our understanding of the debate? As you develop your discussion your handling of competing or complementary ideas is crucial. Rather than merely agreeing or disagreeing with a text synthesis means taking ideas from different sources and building a new argument based on new insights about them. You will have two purposes in this essay: To intelligently converse with two essays and to put the two essays into conversation with each other. More specifically your job is to show how the ideas in one text help you understand those in the others. You should specifically take into consideration the following pointers:
Although you will almost certainly find yourself more in agreement with some essays than with others be fair in your discussion of both essays. Temporarily (but only temporarily) put aside whether you agree with the writing or not and concentrate on whats thought provoking in the text (and whats not) for the purposes of your own writing.
Moreover try to think of the texts at hand as contributions to an ongoing discussion not containers of facts; think of yourself as working in (critical) collaboration with the arguments in the not as mining information.
Try to avoid only listing overt similarities and differences between the texts; try instead to focus on the interesting subtle or unexpected overlaps and disjunctions between the textsthat is those that help you to think more lucidly and originally about the subject matter.
Below are the questions from which you may choose in writing your paper.
1) In his article The Shame of College Sports Taylor Branch writes The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid but that more of them are not. According to Branch since major college sports are essentially businesses players should be paid as if they were employees. On the other hand in Cracking the Cartel Theodore Ross writes that transfer of cash from the NCAA and the universities to the players would not address the basic problems of big-time college athletics. Ross argues that even if colleges pay players fairly many problems with college athletics would persist. How do these essays taken together broaden our thinking about college sports? Which of these arguments are more convincing and why? Do you agree more with Branch or Ross? Or neither of them? Why?
2) Compare Witold Rybczynskis discussion of suburban sprawl and its consequences in Scatteration with Christopher B. Leinbergers argument in The Next Slum? Rybcynski defends some kinds of suburban development and argues that suburbs have been unfairly blamed for many of the things we dont like about modern life: traffic jams overcrowding instability change itself. Leinberger on the other hand suggests that [i]f gasoline and heating costs continue to rise conventional suburban living may not be much of a bargain in the future and also that some of the suburbs other big advantagesbetter schools and safer communitieshave eroded. What are some fundamental disagreements between Rybczynski and Leinberger? What dangers or opportunities do these authors see in the suburbs? Despite their disagreements are their some unexpected areas of agreement or overlap between these essays? How do these essays taken together broaden our thinking about suburbs land use commuting and cities? Are you more convinced by Rybczynskis limited defense of suburbia or Leinbergers criticisms? Or neither of them? Why?
3) Contrast Christine Rosens arguments about the shrinking popularity of physical books in In the Beginning Was the Word with those of Stephanie Foote in Lost Books and a History of Reading Them. Rosen worries that reading on screens instead of traditional paper books and newspapers leads to a kind of experience pollution that is challenging our ability to engage with the printed word. Foote on the other hand writes that digital texts open up new worlds of reading and allow us to [take] seriously the multitude of pleasures that even now-forgotten fiction and texts might have provided. How do these two authors think about reading and books differently? Do they value the same things in the experience of reading? Are you more convinced by Rosen or Foote? Or neither of them? Why?
4) Discuss the issue of video games as it is examined in Henry Jenkinss Art Form for the Digital Age and Chris Suellentrops Playing With Our Minds. What are the differing concerns of these two essays? How do they approach video games differently? How do Suellentrop and Jenkins see the future of video games differently? What kinds of arguments do these essays offer for the value of video games and a form of recreation or art? How do these essays taken together broaden our thinking about the future of video games? Which of these arguments are more convincing and why? Are you more convinced by Jenkinss claim that we should embrace video games as an art form or Suellentrops argument that video games are primarily a teaching tool? Or neither of them? Why?
The learning objectives for this assignment are as follows:
Students will make convincing and logical arguments by drawing conclusions from clear specific and concrete evidence in written texts
Students will use summary paraphrase and direct quotation to cite sources.
Students will read sources critically and objectively with an eye to both understanding and challenging them. Students will synthesize ideas from varying (and sometimes dissenting) sources and forge new insights based on them.
Students will employ clear and concise English prose unambiguous and appropriate syntax and diction and logically organized paragraphs.
The paper will be evaluated according to the following criteria: 1) originality thoroughness nuance and depth of textual analysis 2) thoughtful incorporation of material from the texts (as direct quotation paraphrase and summary) that elegantly and lucidly contributes to your argument 3) substantial and thoughtful support in the form of both reasoning and evidence 4) organization as manifested in the logic of how the argument is ordered and 5) clarity and lucidity of prose diction and style.

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