Guide to the Thematic Synthesis Essay

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Writing 2 Fall 2006 Instructor: Martinsen

UNIT 3: ART AND LITERATURE (Race, Gender and Oppression)

Guide to the Thematic Synthesis Essay


Wednesday, Dec. 6


Monday, Dec. 11 (4 PM)

OVERVIEW: Your essay for Unit 3 will be a Thematic Synthesis, which is an essay that discusses a theme from the perspective of a number of sources, including readings from WATW and an outside source. Your Unit 3 essay will be 4-5 pages, double-spaced, with standard one-inch margins, a title and an MLA works cited page.
PROMPT: First, choose one of the following clusters of readings. Your Thematic Synthesis essay will incorporate (1) a detailed close reading of at least one poem, (2) a discussion of at least one critical piece (marked with an asterisk) and (3) one outside source. The term “synthesis” indicates making connections, sometimes between rather disparate things. Weaving together multiple sources, your essay will explore a theme: an abstract concept such as justice or the repetition of some meaningful element, such as references to sight, vision, and blindness.

Poems and Texts on Women & Feminism
Joy Harjo, “The Woman Hanging from the 13th Floor Window”

June Jordan, “A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters”

Marzieh Ahmadi Oskooii, “I’m a Woman”

Maxine Hong Kinston, “No Name Woman”

Nawal El Saadawi, “Growing Up Female in Egypt”

Sappho, “Invocation to Aphrodite”

Sor Juana De La Cruz, “She Proves the Inconsistency…”

Yu Hsuan-chi, “On a Visit to Ch’ung Chen Taoist Temple”

*Simone de Beauvoir, Women as Other

*Amaury de Reincourt, Women in Athens

*Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Keynote Address, Beijing Forum on Women, 1995

Poems and Texts on Race & Oppression
Garrett Hongo, "Yellow Light” (eRes)

J. Birjepantil, “The Secunderabad Club” (eRes)

Joy Harjo, “The Woman Hanging from the 13th Floor Window”

June Jordan, “A Poem about Intelligence for My Brothers and Sisters”

Kofi Awoonor, “On having been an experimental sacred cow for four years, and a token African on Faculty” (eRes)

Pablo Neruda, The United Fruit Co.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask

*Albert Memmi, Racism and Oppression

*Mohandas K. Gandhi, Satyagraha

*Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

*Nelson Mandela, I Am Prepared to Die


  • You will make connections between ideas from disparate sources.

  • You will discuss the idea/s in relation to each source, as well as in relation to each other.

  • You will organize your exploration of the idea/s in a clear, logical manner.

  • You will come to some conclusions about the overall significance of the idea/s in relation to yourself and to the larger world

Adapted from WATW, p. 397-399

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