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Overview: The previous two essays required you to analyze and evaluate stories written by others. Now it’s time to write your own, using a process known as synthesis—i.e., taking information from a number of different sources and integrating it into a single explanation or argument.
Assignment: In the Art of Fact essays we’ve been examining, the authors immerse themselves in the subject matter, using their personal observations and experiences to both inform and engage the reader. You’ll do something similar. For this final essay, you'll explain some aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic—and your experience of it—to someone 50 years in the future. What is this virus, and what does it do? How did it start; how did it spread? When did you become aware of the problem? When and how did you begin to be directly affected by it? As the world has responded to the pandemic, what are some of the interesting things you’ve observed in your neighborhood, at work, or among your family and friends?
Your primary research, then, will involve your own experiences over the past few months—what you've done and seen, who you've talked to. And ultimately, your essay will tell your (future) reader a story about life amid this historic time. As models, consider Martha Gellhorn’s “The Third Winter,” John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” George Orwell’s “Marrakech,” or Joan Didion’s “The Los Angeles Notebook.” The difference, of course, is that you’ll need to tie in secondary sources for factual context. Your essay should make use of at least five secondary sources.
For more information, please review the Synthetic Essay document.