Writing thesis statements
What? I have know idea what they're saying here. This is so unclear. There's like no thesis statement Man! I wish I brought a red pen!
Well anyway, I think we're all aware that thesis statements are incredibly important, in fact, some people go so far as to say that thesis statements are the most essential part of your paper. And to a large extent, I would agree with that. So, thesis statements help focus our paper and they help us with our own writing. They organize the content of our paper and to direct our attention so that we know what we are going to write about and what to talk about during in the paper. And also, they're important for our readers too. So our readers can follow our argument and they can track the claim. In other words, they kinda work as a blueprint for our audience but, how do you write a successful thesis statement? Well, let's go ahead and take a look at that. Before we get into how we write a successful thesis statement, let's talk about what a thesis statement is.
Well, a thesis statement is a one or two-sentence declaration of your position or claim or focus of the paper. It acts as a kind of road map for your reader so that they can follow your paper and they know what the paper is about. Some also call the thesis statement the heart of the essay it's essentially the essence of the paper. Thesis statements often are at the beginning of our paper usually at the end of the first or second body paragraph or where ever your introduction ends. Okay, before we get into talking about specific strategies for writing a thesis statement it's helpful to know who are we writing the thesis statement for. We're writing the thesis statement for an academic audience, so this means, that we have a few things that we need to keep in mind. Particularly, when we are originating a topic or the point we want to make. The first is that academic papers exist to try and extend, expand, or change knowledge. And this way we do not simply want to restate a common-known truth, that's not a thesis statement. A thesis statement is debatable it has something to add to a conversation. So when you're coming up with a topic choose something that someone would be surprised to hear something that is original something that goes beyond what someone else already just believes. Now still though we need to be aware that you can't get too far with your claims. For instance, you don't want to say something so debatable that you could never possibly prove it. For instance, a claim like "Douglas's vivid imagery makes his essay the most emotional essay ever penned!" Well yea sure that's very debatable and it might intrigue your audience, Wow I want to see how you're going to prove this but, how are you going to actually try to prove that this essay is the most emotional essay ever written. That would be practically impossible to try to prove especially just the amount the scope, that topic is too large to look at every other essay that's emotional and compare it to Douglass's, it's just too much.
The second thing we should be aware of about academic writing is that academic writing is comprised of readers who are skeptical of our arguments, that they're looking for something new something that adds to the conversation and they're also not just going to accept that what we have to say is true just because we say it. For that reason, we need to make sure that we take an argument that's not too broad in scope, but narrow and focus, so that we could have proof to bring into our paper to support our claim. So, the take away there with point two is because our audience is oppositional and they want a lot from our argument they're skeptical and they want a lot of incite from our argument we need to go for more depth rather than breathe because academic writing is focused in it, and uncovers incites and we can only do that by really looking at something very closely. Okay so writing a strong thesis statement, how do you do it ?
Well, they're first two parts to a thesis statement that we need to keep in mind. The first is your claim. What are you arguing ? Second part of a thesis statement is, how you're going to prove that claim? We will call that your methodology. The reasons or support you're going to be using to help the audience believe that what you claim is true. Okay so first of all the principles of good claim the what? We already talked about most of them first of all, be debatable and original, have a focused claim so don't make your claim too broad for instance talking about all the vivid imagery in the text is a bit too much to handle. And point three is a good argument has one main idea. So for instance, you wouldn't want a claim that "Doulas's vivid imagery imagine that scene and he also uses a respectful tone so that people care about him." If you were going to actually write a paper about that you would have to show how these two arguments fit together in one idea. The second part of your thesis statement your methodology how are you going to prove this? How, are you going to prove your thesis statement. When we are thinking about our reasons make sure that they all connect to your claim so that your reader understands how all these reasons support this claim. So in other words , if you've got a claim "Douglas uses vivid imagery, emotionally resonant symbols and a respectful tone to illustrate the immorality of slavery." Your readers would have no idea how each one of those things you are going to look at proves your claim. So, when we are thinking about our reasons make sure that they help our reader understand how it's supposed to support the claim because everything needs to kind of, connect for our readers. And the reason for this is mostly because we don't what our paper ending up turning into what I call paragraph islands. We wouldn't want to have a paragraph on vivid imagery another one on emotional resonant symbols and respectful tone, and our reader wouldn't have an idea of how each one of those connected. Our reader might actually even see that it seems like these are all three separate papers instead we need to have one clear focused paper where each paragraph leads into or connects to the other one.
So, let's look at a strong example of those, By pairing emotionally resonant symbols and grotesque, violent imagery, Douglass demonstrates the immorality of slavery and therefore evokes his audience's outrage and sympathy; combined, these emotions prompt action against the institution of slavery. Okay, so first of all we noticed that this person is being very focused they only have one thing that they are actually going to examine throughout the paper now you don't have to focus on one thing but it's a good practice to just focus your attention on one thing. This person will only look at emotional resonant symbols when they combine together with grotesque, violent imagery, that's all their focus is going to be on when each one of those things combine together. And they have one thing to say about that, when those things combine together an emotion is created, outrage and sympathy, and that this emotion gets people to act okay, that's the claim. And you will notice that each one of parts of the thesis statement connects to the other, each one has a certain place in the argument, and the reader can unpack this and could actually see a road map for the paper in other words they'd understand everything that would follow throughout the whole paper for instance maybe the person will in that first paragraph talk about how emotional resonant symbols, get the audience to realize that enslaved individuals and themselves share the same values and virtues and that these value and virtues are being betrayed by slaveholders and maybe that betrayal will be shown through the grotesque violence imagery.
So the values and virtues shown by the emotionally resonant symbols are betrayed through the violent imagery and then maybe then the author could talk about how witnessing those shared values and virtues breaking down would create outrage against slaveholders and sympathy for those affected, those enslaved individuals. Okay, and that could go on from there and maybe we would have another paragraph about how this emotion would be directed towards the institution of slavery so then we could talk about how that would happen, while sympathy is conducive to getting people to act on your behalf. and how the sympathy would be helpful for Douglass and there might another one on how the outrage would get people to fight against this. The outrage would direct their attention towards slavery and its something that they want to fight. So, anyway, this is a good thesis statement because it's clear and focused because it uses clear reasons and all of those reasons connect somehow to create one overall claim which seems interesting and original. So that's it for thesis statements if you feel confident on what we talked about today, go ahead and take the quiz and GOOD LUCK!