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Informative Synthesis Assignment Sheet

Fall 2013



Task: Write a 500-600 word essay that synthesizes elements from the following two articles:

1) “Masters of Ecstasy” by David Stern

2) “Shamanistic Journeys and Anthropological Travels” by Janet Chernela and Eric Leed

Due Dates: Draft 1 is due 12 November. 


Determine the relationship between those particular sections of writing.  There are three basic relationships:

  1. a) Corroboration

When you corroborate something, you find information that is basically saying the same thing about one particular subject or topic.  Think of it like a policeman listening to witnesses at a two-car car wreck.  Two witnesses give the same or similar version of what happened.  This is corroboration.

  1. b) Addition

In addition, you add to the information you already have with new, but related insights.  To use the analogy of the car wreck again, suppose a third witness comes forward and adds to the account the distance and the speed of the cars that were in the wreck.

  1. c) Disagreement/Contradiction

Sometimes you want to make sure your reader understands that there is more than one way to look at something, and, sometimes, those different perspectives contradict each other.  This would be a fourth witness in the car crash analogy who claims that it was a deer that caused the accident, not just two cars.

4) After you’ve found the information and determined how it is related (corroboration, addition, disagreement/contradiction), you will need to categorize the parallel data you found between the two texts by brainstorming.  For example, if one text discusses the tigers of India and another text explores the lives of lions in Africa, develop basic categories that bring both texts under one umbrella.  You could categorize parts of the texts that overlap with the categories of: big cats, hunting practices, impact on humans, protection laws, and poaching, breeding habits, habitat, gender roles, etc., given that both texts touch upon some aspect of each category.  Think of the tags that are attached to blog posts to help categorize them in search engines.

5) After you have determined the relationships between the sources and developed categories that bring them together, you’re ready to write a working thesis statement.  Your thesis should:

  1. a) Include the overall topic and focus of your paper (example: big cats)
  2. b) Address the categories you derived from your sources (example: hunting practices, gender roles, and breeding habits)
  3. c) Structure and write your thesis statement in such a way that it serves as the main idea of your essay and reflects the structure/organization of your essay (example: Big cats, such as tigers and lions, share many of the same breeding habits, hunting practices, and gender roles.)


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