Essay Appropriately Called Geog 342 The Rise Of

Essay Appropriately Called Geog 342 The Rise Of

Essay Appropriately Called Geog 342 The Rise Of

One of the objectives of this course is to improve your writing and critical thinking skills. We will work on this goal through short thought pieces, which include synthesis and reflection.

To SYNTHESIZE means to assemble parts into a new whole, and to show the relationships and connections between those parts. The parts are the different readings, each representing a distinct view or understanding on a range of topics. The “whole” is your new writing piece that considers the various arguments and viewpoints. The “whole” should also include your thoughts and reflections. You may agree or disagree with the readings; however a good synthesis often brings into focus paradoxes, contradictions, or other seeming inconsistencies in the readings and course materials.

The ultimate objective is to demonstrate your understanding of the readings and to present thoughtful engagement with them.

A synthesis IS NOT a review of ‘she said, he said, and this person said’, and ‘I agree with this person’. A synthesis captures the essence of the arguments (sometimes from several different sources) and grapples with the ways in which the arguments align and diverge. And presents and interesting take or oversight that hasn’t been discussed thus far.

You are required to synthesize information from the sources into your argument. Remember that the sources won’t make your point. They provide supporting information, perspectives, viewpoints.

You’re likely asking yourself, “how do I accomplish this”?

“All good writing begins with terrible first efforts,” notes novelist Anne Lamott, in an essay appropriately called ‘Shitty First Drafts’. Good writing takes labor: getting it down, ruthless editing, eliminating excess or flabby prose, fine-tuning for flow, tightening the nuts and bolts of evidence and argument, silencing the internal voice (what Natalie Goldberg calls ‘monkey mind’) that screams ‘I can’t, I don’t know how.’ 


Writing is a muscle. You have to work at it! Good writers do not sit down and write gold. They write a lot and edit, which involves re-reading, reflecting and deleting much of what they wrote. If a sentence doesn’t sound right, or it doesn’t convey what they mean they work on sculpting the sentence until it does.

Some quick steps to improve your writing.

Step 1: Do the readings, and absorb what the author is saying first.

Step 2: Take notes on the main points of the readings and other week’s materials. Ask yourself: what is the overarching argument of the piece?

Step 3: Reflect on the above paragraphs. Write a draft. Read the draft out loud. Delete, edit, and rewrite. Repeat.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3.

Week one reflection assignment:

Length at least 450 words.

Synthesize at least two of this week’s materials (meaning the readings and the video, at least one reading).

Your responses should, of course, be written in complete sentences and paragraphs. After carefully reading your chosen texts:

Synthesize two of this week’s readings. Explain why you find them to be important. In other words, what is at stake for each of the main arguments made? Reflect on the two most interesting or confusing points in the readings and explain what you find paradoxical or interesting. Be specific! Cite specific passages and include page numbers. One key point before you get started: often when students use quotations, they do not deconstruct them. This is insufficient. Quotations cannot stand alone after you introduce them; you must then explain the meaning and significance of the quotation in your own words, otherwise we, your instructors, will not be sure you actually understand the material.

Grading Rubric:

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeStudent’s synthesis of the two readings. How well did the student synthesize?

4.0 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

4.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeStudent’s critical acknowledgement of interesting or paradoxical aspects on readings.

4.0 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

4.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeWriting and grammar. How well is the reflection written?

2.0 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

2.0 pts

Total Points: 10.0