Paper Two

UNIV 111 Paper Two: Synthesis Essay

The Basics

The Unit Two guidelines state that a UNIV 111 student will produce “a piece of writing that puts textual materials in conversation and engages in summary, evaluation, and analysis.” In this class, this piece of writing is a SYNTHESIS ESSAY. In Paper Two, you will pair any two texts from the semester to discuss how they approach a common theme. Your goal in writing this paper is to answer the following question: how does reading these two texts together change or deepen your understanding of the theme you’ve selected? That is, what do you learn about your theme by reading both texts instead of just one?

Your paper should be 4-5 pages (or 1000-1250 words). It should feature an additional works cited or reference page not included in the word count, a catchy title, and proper MLA or APA formatting throughout the paper.

Paper Two is due on Monday, November 7th; peer review will take place on Friday, November 4th and is mandatory.


In this essay, I aim for you to do the following:

  1. To think critically about how we put ideas in conversation, using both textual and contextual information
  2. To move from summary to analysis of texts
  3. To express close readings of text through writing
  4. To practice basic citation skills

The Nitty Gritty

 Your essay should feature the following components (not necessarily in this order):

  1. An introduction with a strong central thesis about your theme and texts
  2. Strategic summaries of both texts that demonstrate the prevalence of your theme in each
  3. Contextual information about each text that suggests how an intended audience, publication venue, or publication date might impact the material the author(s) can develop
  4. Analysis of each text that features careful close reading and textual evidence to support your theme
  5. A conclusion that suggests the stakes of your discussion—why are these texts and theme so important?


  Content A (9-10) B (8) C (7) D (6) F (0-5)

Theme Selection

(10 points)

Student uses a creative and focused theme and makes a strong case for the theme’s importance Student picks a theme and develops it throughout the paper in relation to the two sources Student uses a theme throughout the paper, but the theme may be vague or too broad or may not connect effectively to both sources Student gestures toward a central theme, but does not maintain a focus on the theme throughout the paper Student does not identify a central theme in the paper
Strategic Text Pairing

(10 points)

Student effectively and elegantly pairs and synthesizes texts Student effectively pairs texts and begins conversation between them; transitions may be clunky or unclear Student pairs texts effectively but conversation between them is limited (i.e. 3 paragraphs on one text then 3 on the other) Student references two texts but does not make a successful case for the pairing or does not put the texts in conversation Student only uses one text throughout the paper

Summary Skills

(10 points)

Student’s summaries elegantly tie together both texts and the theme Student’s summaries are detailed and focused in a way that highlights the paper’s theme Student’s summaries demonstrate a careful reading of each text Student offers a brief, non-detailed summary of both texts Student does not offer a summary of one or both texts

Context analysis

(10 points)

Student offers sophisticated context that clearly demonstrates additional research; he/she explains how similarities and differences impact the sources’ messages Student offers contextual information that may demonstrate additional research; he/she also describes the similarities/differences between the sources’ contexts Student offers basic context for both sources but does not suggest differences or similarities between the contexts Student offers basic but limited context of at least one source Student does not offer a description of either text’s context

Textual evidence

(10 points)

Student is strategic about which quotes and materials he/she cites Student effectively uses paraphrasing and quotation; some quotations less strategically selected Student cites the text but may confuse the difference between paraphrasing and quoting Student references the text, but may only summarize Student relies only on his/her own thoughts and opinion


 Construction A (9-10) B (8) C (7) D (6) F (0-5)

Central Thesis

(10 points)

Student’s thesis demonstrates advanced critical thinking and synthesis Student’s thesis connects the theme and text clearly Student offers a basic thesis that connects the theme and texts in a superficial way Student has a central thesis, but it is unrelated to the texts or theme Student offers no central thesis for the paper


(10 points)

Student uses an organizational approach that allows him/her to develop advanced critical thinking Student attempts paragraphs and an outline that develop her ideas—some minor errors Student relies on the “five paragraph model” without developing his/her own thinking Student’s paragraphs do not focus on a single idea or transition suddenly Student does not divide the paper into paragraphs
Incorporation of Evidence

(10 points)

Student “sandwiches” quotes in order to display sophisticated analysis of language and argument Student effectively “sandwiches” quotes Student may incorporate quotes without much analysis Student provides quotes, but they are not effectively integrated into the paper Student does not offer any textual evidence
Mechanics and Formatting

(10 points)

Student’s language is enjoyable to read with few to no errors; paper is double spaced with a title, header information, and references page Student formats effectively with limited grammatical errors (or demonstrates a specific area that needs improvement) Student demonstrates 1 formatting error and/or some grammatical errors Student demonstrates 2-3 major formatting errors OR multiple grammatical errors Student has multiple grammatical errors; there are no page numbers, title, or doublespacing
Basic Citation Skills

(10 points)

Student in-text and reference citations are virtually flawless (1-2 minor errors at most) Student effectively cites in the text and in a final citation page; may feature several minor errors. Student attempts to cite in a consistent format but may demonstrate multiple errors Student attempts to cite but demonstrates no awareness of MLA or APA formatting Student does not cite; plagiarism suspected





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