Essay One Topic: Explanatory Synthesis

Writing 101
Section 035
Fall 2011
Essay One Topic: Explanatory Synthesis Paper
Essay Description
Essay One will consist of a typed, four to five page (minimum 1000 word) explanatory synthesis
in response to two or more of the readings included in the chapter “The Changing Landscape of Work in
the Twenty-first Century” (WRAC 205 – 278), as well as the NY Times article “Making College
„Relevant‟.” A synthesis is a type of essay in which you consider and discuss two or more distinct
sources or arguments in order to forward your own conclusion, analysis, or argument about those
sources and the ideas contained in them. While your purpose may change in various types of
explanatory syntheses, all syntheses have the common goal of making relationships between texts, ideas,
or concepts clear and explicit. In this particular explanatory synthesis, you will carefully consider the
arguments and concepts on the changing nature of work in the twenty-first century, and will then
forward your own position or conclusion based upon your careful reading and consideration. This
position or conclusion may be more explanatory or analytical, rather than persuasive or argumentative,
but you must forward a specific, narrow, and clear thesis, or position, on your topic.
Your paper topics will consist of modified versions of topics provided for you in our text, Writing and
Reading Across the Curriculum. You may choose one of the following topics for your essay:
1. Consider carefully the article “Are They Really Ready to Work?” by Casner-Lotto and
Barrington, and the NY Times article “Making College „Relevant‟.” In addition, consider
Richard Miller‟s speech to engineering students at Olin College, in which he quotes “industry
leaders” who assert that they need more students who possess communication skills rather than
(or in addition to?) “technical knowledge.” Synthesize these three sources into a discussion of
the current and future workplace. How and why will the twenty-first century workplace,
according to these sources, value “applied skills” more than “technical skills”? How can you
bring these three sources together to present a more complete analysis of the current and future
Big Idea: What will the future workplace look like and want from you??
2. In her essay on work and identity, Ursula Huws discusses how the “fractured experience” of the
workplace “is mirrored in the fracturing of occupational identities.” Richard Sennett, in “No
Long Term: New Work and the Corrosion of Character,” carefully analyzes how workplace
tasks and roles can cause a fractured or ambiguous sense of self and personal worth. Consider
both of these essays carefully in order to analyze the relationship between work and personal
identity in the twenty-first century. Is it possible to have a personal identity that is whole, sound,
and coherent despite the uncertain or temporary nature of one‟s job? Analyze (critique) Huws
and Sennett‟s essays in order to point to places where their arguments equating work and
personal identity might break down, or in order to explain how personal identity is inextricably
tied to our work identities. In either case, bring something new to the analysis – do not merely
repeat the authors‟ arguments.
Big Idea: Do you “equal” your job? Is your identity based on your occupation? Why or
why not??
3. Analyze and synthesize at least three of our assigned readings from Chapter Seven and from the
class website (NY Times article), in order to determine the attributes of workers likeliest to
succeed in the new economy (post-2008 recessionary, global, partly-outsourced, etc.). You may
want to consult Peters, Judy and D‟Amico, Blinder, Friedman, and/or the NY Times article.
Define what type of worker will be most likely to succeed in today‟s economy, providing
concrete evidence from your sources, and then analyze to what extent you think you will be
prepared to succeed in today‟s workplace. What steps can you take to assure that you will have
the skills most necessary to succeed? What strengths do you already possess that will enable you
to succeed? How prepared are you to keep your job from being outsourced or rendered obsolete
by new technology? What advice would some of our assigned authors give you to help you be
successful in the new economy?
Big Idea: What skills, qualities, and attributes will you need to succeed in today’s
You may choose any one of these topics, and you may choose any of the assigned or unassigned texts in
Chapter Seven or on our course website to consider for this assignment. Please make sure that you
indicate which question you are answering in your heading, and include a unique, creative title for your
essay. Also, in your analysis, please do not merely summarize what the assigned authors say about a
topic. Bring these sources together in a new way to teach us something new about these ideas by
putting them together into one new analysis, critique, explanation, or argument.
Grading Criteria
A strong essay will include:
 A clear, specific, and assertive thesis statement.
 Specific, concrete, and relevant evidence and examples from the assigned essays.
 A clear link between examples and the thesis.
 Explanation and analysis that draws together two or more sources into one new position,
discussion, or argument.
 Minimal errors in grammar and punctuation.
 Transitional statements or sentences between paragraphs.
 An engaging style that is neither too formal nor too informal.
Helpful Sources
 Read P-H Reference Guide, chapters 1 and 2, for more information on planning and drafting an
 Read WRAC, pgs. 91 – 131 for information on writing explanatory syntheses.
 Do not forget that you can take your draft to the Writing Center or bring it to me for help.
Essay Due Dates
Rough Draft: Due in class on Tuesday, September 20, 2011.
Final Draft: Due in Class on Thursday, September 22, 2011. Essays must be submitted to Turnitin by
midnight on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in order to be graded.
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