Assignment for Synthesis Essay

This first essay focuses on close reading, analysis, and synthesis of ideas from two texts, one of which is a theoretical reading. You will use the theoretical text as a lens for analyzing one of the fairy tales listed below. The goal of this essay is to practice using ideas from additional sources to support your argument and smoothly integrate them into your essay. This will be crucial for writing a successful research essay.

The theoretical text you will use is the introduction from Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s groundbreaking book of feminist criticism, The Madwoman in the Attic. Gilbert and Gubar examine the effects of shifting narrative perspective from a male character’s point of view to a female character’s.

Use the ideas in Gilbert and Gubar’s introduction as a framework for analyzing one of fairy tales listed below. The goal of the synthesis is to blend separate ideas (Gilbert and Gubar’s argument, a fairy tale) into a new, cohesive idea (your argument about how Gilbert and Gubar illustrate something important in the fairy tale).

“Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper” Stories from Carter’s The Bloody Chamber:
“The Wicked Stepmother” “The Bloody Chamber”
“Parsley” “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon”
“Juan and Clotilde” “The Tiger’s Bride”
“The Necessity of Salt” “The Snow Child”
“The Princess Who Loved Her Father Like Salt”
“Kinkach Martinko”
“The Enchanted Tsarévich”
“The Fairy Serpent”

Essay structure

The opening paragraph needs to do three main things:
Craft an engaging opening line which hooks your reader’s attention.
Identify the idea/s from Gilbert and Gubar which you are using and the fairy tale which you are analyzing.
Assert a thesis that uses Gilbert and Gubar’s ideas to interpret the fairy tale. Their ideas are the springboard for the argument you want to make about your chosen fairy tale. The thesis should assert an argument that depends on Gilbert and Gubar’s introduction.
Remember that a thesis makes an argument rather than states plot; others might reasonably disagree with your assertion. A thesis is specific, but does not need to list every piece of evidence you will use to support it. A strong thesis is generally concise and uses vivid language to make a strong claim.

Your first body paragraph must concisely explain the idea/s from Gilbert and Gubar which you are using in the essay, including properly documented textual evidence from their introduction. Take care that you are summarizing/paraphrasing rather than just repeating Gilbert and Gubar’s idea. The goal of this paragraph is to give a general reader enough information to understand Gilbert and Gubar’s idea as the theoretical basis of your analysis.

In the remaining body paragraphs, apply Gilbert and Gubar’s idea to your chosen fairy tale. Discuss only the features of the fairy tale that best support your thesis, rather than describing every detail of the entire plot of the fairy tale. Support your analysis with properly documented quotations, paraphrases, and textual references.
Take care that you are APPLYING the theoretical concepts in a way that shows that you understand them; do not simply repeat the theoretical concepts.
Take care that you are ANALYZING the meaning of the details you select; that is, show how these details combine to advance your argument. Do not simply state what the details are.

Your conclusion should not repeat the evidence you have already stated. Instead, strive to answer the question, “so what?” In other words, your conclusion points to how this new perspective shapes understanding of the fairy tale.

Assignment specifics:

Essay length is 3-4 pages. Note: This is 3 *full* pages; a few lines on page 3 is not a full page.

The analysis and synthesis in this essay are to be your own, and will focus exclusively on Gilbert and Gubar’s idea/s and the fairy tale which you select. Do not use outside sources of any kind.

You will need to quote from the texts directly, but avoid excessive quotation. In an essay this short, you should only need one or two brief quotations per page, approximately. Review the MLA section of Little Seagull Handbook for proper format, including the Works Cited page. Excessive quotation will lower your final grade.
Likewise, use no more than one block quotation in this essay. Review LSH if you’re not sure whether you need to use the block quotations format for a particular quotation.

Make sure your essay complies with the MLA Format & Style Checklist, posted on Canvas.
In particular, resist the urge to describe how the audience responds to the fairy tale. You can’t know how the audience responds. Focus your discussion on what happens in the fairy tale and what those events mean.
Likewise, do not read characters’ minds or fill in plot holes with supposition or speculation. Focus on what the characters say and additional information provided by the narrator. You must have evidence in the fairy tale to support your assertions.
September 26th: Bring 4 printed copies of your FULL draft for a peer-review workshop. One copy is for me, and I will get feedback to you as soon as possible.
Be sure to print your copies ahead of time so you’re not late to class.
Peer-review does not work well if the group is huddled around a laptop. If you come to class without printed copies, you’ll be asked to leave and marked absent.

October 8th: Final essay is due; uploaded to Canvas by 11:59 p.m.
Format your file name like this: firstinitiallastnameEssay#
You can only upload a .docx file
Be aware that the upload link only works once. Check your file to make sure you’ve proofread it, and have included both the Honor Code and the Works Cited page.
I will only grade the version of your essay that’s uploaded, so make sure it’s the version you want me to see!

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