This essay will require a thesis statement, which the student will defend in the course of the paper by employing evidence from two or three sources. In the process of writing this thesis-driven paper, the student will synthesize a reading of the source materials in stylistically clear pages of writing. The source synthesis assignment builds on student ability to identify and acknowledge source material and calls on them to connect the multiple pieces of evidence and synthesize an inclusive view of those sources. Students will do so in order to make their thesis persuasive to the reader.
A thesis driven paper: Your paper must have a thesis, that is, a statement (appearing at the end of the opening paragraph) stating the main idea of your paper. A thesis is the answer to an unstated research question (you should have this research question in your head). Your thesis statement should present the findings of your analysis. A thesis is your articulation of your intervention—an intervention is your voice and your ideas joining the conversation; it is the new interpretation (sometimes called a “reading”) that you bring to your audience in the rest of the paper.
You will use the following sources as your research material. The text and film sources upon which you may draw for this synthesis are the following:
- “Poem of Mulan” by Anonymous (6th century)
- “Song of Mulan” by Wei Yuanfu (8th century)
- The Female Mulan Joins the Army in Place of Her Father by Xu Wei (16th century)
- Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (2009), written and directed by Jingle MaI
- Will also accept papers that use either Disney version (the 1998 animated original or the 2020 live-action version) as a film source.
We will not watch those versions as a class, so you are on your own as far as sourcing/watching them. For instance, a paper that synthesizes a thesis about music and nostalgia in the Disney versions and how that connects to the original auditory experience of the poems/Xu Wei play would be interesting.
If you write about any two Mulan texts, you may also reference and quote from Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema’s introduction to Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend, with Related Texts. Cite the introduction in its own works cited entry. Or“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), starring and directed by Ben Stiller with a screenplay by Steve Conrad Regardless of your main sources, you may use the “suggested reading” from Module 9: Adaptation Studies and Learning: New Frontiers by Laurence Raw and Tony Gurr. You may not do outside research or use texts other than the ones listed above. If you use outside sources or unapproved texts, you will fail this assignment.
Synthesis occurs when a student offers two or more different sources as evidence or support for their conclusion. Be prepared to use words and phrases showing the relationships between sources—words or phrases like “agrees,” “disagrees,” “concurs,” “expounds upon,” “goes even further,” “contradicts,” “confirms,” “clarifies,” etc. To some extent, synthesis can be charted as a formula: “A writes, ‘X’; B agrees (disagrees, elaborates upon, etc.) and writes, ‘Y.’” You are synthesizing primary sources (fiction texts and films), but the formula is essentially the same.
Still, a synthesis paper should be more than that. It should leave a reader with a holistic sense that the writer has conveyed their own ideas and has drawn upon a chorus of voices to create context and support for their finding, which they expressed in the thesis statement.
Synthesis is all about creating a new interpretation of the sources, an interpretation that is 1 The information in the three paragraphs preceding the footnote were taken from Karen Craigo, “Tell ‘em What it Ain’t: Teaching Synthesis Through Anti-Synthesis.” GSW Development Session, 24 March, 2003.
Be within the required word count (900-1,100).
Contain an introduction, conclusion, and thesis statement, which should appear at the end of the introduction.
Have a title, centered above the first paragraph (no bold or large font). Your title can be creative and clever. It must be descriptive and reflect your thesis statement.
Contain clear connections/synthesis between two or three sources.
Have a properly formatted MLA Works Cited page and in-text citations for all sources mentioned.
Follow the formatting guidelines in the syllabus.
Have strong and clear topic sentences that foreground/reveal the main point of a paragraph at its start.
Use quotations sparingly and appropriately. Do not quote full sentences and fully explicate the quotations you include. Quote significant words and phrases, and incorporate them into your own sentences.
Respect the perspective and argument of the original author(s). Don’t stray from the text and don’t get distracted from your goal, i.e. your thesis.
Be free from errors (e.g. typos)—proofread your essay!
Include the final word count in brackets at the end of the essay.