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English 102

English 102 (Shank)Spring 2010

Writing Project #1: The Shepard Project

Library Scavenger Hunt (10 points): Wed, Sept 17Synthesis Assignment (40 points): Fri, Sept 24Project Proposal (50 points): Wed, Sept 29Annotated Bibliography (50 points): Mon, Oct 4Draft (50 points): Mon, Oct 11 OR Wed, Oct 13Final Draft: Monday, October 18

This first project will be all about creating a synthesis! So what is a Synthesis anyway??? A synthesis draws conclusions from, makes observations on, or shows connections between two or more sources you attempt to make sense of the ideas of two or more sources by extracting information that is relevant to your purpose (Ackley 75).

The Assignment:

We are looking at the book by Adam Shepard titled Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. He wrote this book partly as a response to Barbara Ehrenreichs 2001 study of the minimum wage lifestyle titled Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Shepard wanted to see for himself if it were possible to start off homeless (with $25 in his pocket) and achieve the American Dream a car, a place to live, and money in the bank. Shepards book has a little bit of research but mostly it is a readable, personal narrative of his experiment.


Your job? Find at least THREE essays/ memoirs/ web pages/ articles/ documentaries that say something about any one issue that Shepard raises in his book. Compare what these people say as opposed to Shepard or any other authors. Is there agreement? Disagreement? Something in between? If you have any personal knowledge with the topic you choose, you may want to include your own observations and experiences in your discussion.

As we read Shepards book, we will brainstorm topics as we go along! So no fears! See me early on if you are completely stuck and have no idea what to focus your discussion on.


After finding some sources, think about the extent to which these selections (Shepard + other sources) have helped to clarify, or confuse, your understanding of the particular topic you have chosen. A paper in which you draw on source materials involves forging a relationship between the two (or more) texts you choose. For example, you could pick essays with opposing viewpoints or essays that build on the same idea. The decision is entirely yours.

Start your essay by summarizing the main points of the essays you have chosen, including Scratch Beginnings (well talk more about summarizing in class!). Dont forget -- if you use specific wording from an author, you must use quotation marks!! With a summary, be as objective as possible dont offer your own opinion at this point. Make it clear what the authors viewpoint is.

After you have summarized, then you can respond to the authors. What do you think? Whats your opinion on this issue? Why do you think the way you do? Specific examples or evidence? Your job is to persuade your readers to agree with you.

The Thesis:

As you already know, you need to decide on a research question for your paper; this direction will be your thesis/ focus/ purpose for writing your paper. As you might know, the thesis is a statement of opinion revealing the purpose of your particular paper. Be as specific as possible. Look at these two examples:

1. Being a waitress is hard work.2. Even though television shows like Friends may show a glamorous side to being a waitress, the reality comes down to hard work and little respect.

Do you see the problem with the first thesis statement? Its too general Instead, you want to forge a strong and specific relationship between the essays and ideas you are encountering. With the first example, why would you say television is great? What specifically does it do for people?


There is no single correct way to organize this essay. You could offer your summaries first and then respond after each summary or you could respond only after you have offered all your summaries at one time.

Keep in mind, though, the issue of plagiarism. This is our first project and I want you to practice summarizing several sources (in this case, the essays you have selected). We will take about plagiarism in class in more detail before this assignment is due!

Style/ Conventions:

Follow the appropriate style conventions for edited, standard English. Use MLA documentation to the best of your ability (lots of info about this on our class web site!)

Dont forget to use our class web site as a resource: http://shankeng102.blogspot.com/