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ENGL 112: January 30, 2013

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University of British Columbia
ENGL 112
Peter Mahon

ENGL 112: Strategies in University Writing January 30, 2013 The techniques of summary and critical summary are intended to liberate you from the written arrangement in your source materials so that you are no longer a slave to them: putting your sources into your own words also allows you to put them into new arrangements - with each other, with your research proposal, etc. Rearranging source material is also the first step in construction a thesis: your thesis will emerge from your research proposal. In academic writing, meaning and intelligibility depend on an organizing principle. High level abstractions or concepts such as "Social Organization" or "The Role of the Media" are meant to dominate lower level assertions: they make texts meaningful. Such concepts are crucial for writing your thesis. Readers generally use a paper's concepts to manage their comprehension simply because writers, in planning, drafting and revising their work, spend a great deal of time constructing concepts that control and connect detail and examples. If your paper does not supply a thesis, your reader is left to speculate and may supply one of his/her own making: the problem her is that the reader's concepts of your thesis may be completely different from the one you intended.  Must make the thesis explicit, upfront, and tell the reader what you are setting out to do/explain/determine/analyze etc. Thesis Writing: Aboutness and Coherance Aboutness: A thesis supplies your paper's aboutness by tying its diverse items of information together. A good test for aboutness is to ask if a series of sentences you have written could be given a title. It is difficult to give a title to a series of randomly strung together sentences that have no organizing principle. In the context of academic writing, random sentences have no meaning because a reader cannot say for sure what the writer is talking about: such randomly strung together sentences cannot earn marks. Coherence: A thesis also supplies your paper with the organizing principle of coherence. Coherence is the principle that gives your entire essay meaning. Coherence is supplied by the reiteration of your thesis at strategic points throughout your paper. Such reiteration continually (re)establishes the relevance of specific details through your thesis. Papers without such reiterations are considered incoherent. Disproportion: A common form of incoherence that occurs when large pockets of specific/concrete details are piled on top of each other in a piece of writing: when disproportion occurs, the writer fails to convey a strong sense of the thesis to the reader, stranding him/her in too many disconnected details. To avoid this problem, think of reader of always having the following question in your mind: Why is the writer telling me this now? Imagine your reader asking him/herself this ENGL 112: Strategies in University Writing question about every single thing you write. If you as a writer cannot answer this question, you cannot reasonably expect your reader to do so. As mentioned above, your thesis guides a reader's interpretation. Take the following very simple data: The table was bare, the floor swept clean. The window was open, and a keep breeze crossed the room. The walls glimmered in the pale light. Here, a reader would have no problem intensity the various components mentioned above s/he knows that this is vaguely about a room. However, the passage has no meaning, no principle of coherence. The scene was one of desolation and abandonment of emptiness. The table was bare
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