Writing Essays Lecture & Readings Combined Week 4

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Innis College Courses
Viktoria Jovanovic- Krstic

Week 4 – The argumentative essay in perspective - Thesis statements o a sentence or two in length o provides the reader with specific information about the focus of your essay o tells the reader what your essay will be about o makes a claim o takes a stance o similar to a road map  tells the reader what your essay is about  in conjunction with the introduction  implies how you intend to fulfill the development of your claim - Strong thesis statement o makes a claim that  (1) requires analysis to support and evolve it  (2) offers some point about the significance of your evidence that would not have been immediately obvious to your readers o A strong thesis statement is:  RESTRICTED  deals with issues which can be covered within the boundaries of your word/page count  Poor: The world is in a terrible bind.  Better: The United Nations should be given more peace-keeping powers.  UNIFIED  deals with one major idea about its subject  a secondary idea may be dealt with if it is strictly subordinated to the major one  SPECIFIC  breaks down the main focus of the essay  can also include the specific focus areas of the paper o The simple versus the expanded thesis statement  Thesis statements can be presented in the simple or the expanded form.  Either is acceptable in an academic grade paper  the expanded form may help novice writers focus and organize their essays better  For example…  Simple: James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the unconscious.  Expanded: James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the unconscious by utilizing the findings of Freudian psychology, and by introducing the techniques of a literary stream of consciousness. - Weak thesis statement o A weak thesis statement either  makes no claim “this paper will examine the pros and cons of…”  makes a claim that does not need proving: “Exercise is good for you.” o Five types of weak thesis statements exist.  Weak thesis type #1: The thesis makes no claim.  does not advance an idea about the topic the paper will explore:  EX. This paper will address the characteristics of a good corporate manager.  Solution to weak thesis type #1: o Raise specific issues for the essay to explore: o EX. The very trait that makes for an effective corporate manager – the drive to succeed – can also make the leader domineering and therefore ineffective.  Weak thesis #2: The thesis is obviously true or is a statement of fact:  A thesis needs to be an assertion with which it would be possible for readers to disagree:  EX. The jeans industry targets its advertisements to appeal to young adults.  Remember: if few people would disagree with a claim that a thesis makes, there is no point in writing an analytical paper on it.  Solution to weak thesis #2: o Find some avenue of inquiry – a question about the facts or an issue raised by them. Make an assertion with which it would be possible for readers to disagree: o EX. By inventing new terms, such as “loose fit” and “relaxed fit,” the jeans industry has attempted to normalize, even glorify, its product for an older and fatter generation.  Weak thesis type #3: The thesis restates conventional wisdom; hence, no stance is presented that can be critically argued.  EX. An important part of one’s university education is learning to better understand others’ points of view.  Solution to weak thesis statement #3: o Seek to complicate – see more than one point of view on – your subject. Avoid conventional wisdom unless you can qualify it or introduce a fresh perspective on it: o EX. While an important part of one’s university education is learning to better understand other’s points of view, a persistent danger is that the students will simply be required to substitute the teacher’s answers for the ones they grew up uncritically believing.  Weak thesis type #4: the thesis offers personal conviction as the basis for the claim:  A statement of one’s personal convictions or one’s likes or dislikes does not alone supply sufficient grounds for a productive thesis:  EX. “The situation in Africa does not warrant all of the attention it has been getting from the press.”
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