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IB Workshop University of King’s College 22 August 2007 What’s in a Thesis? Presented by Lyn Bennett Dalhousie University

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Presentation on theme: "IB Workshop University of King’s College 22 August 2007 What’s in a Thesis? Presented by Lyn Bennett Dalhousie University"— Presentation transcript:

1 IB Workshop University of King’s College 22 August 2007 What’s in a Thesis? Presented by Lyn Bennett Dalhousie University lyn.bennett@dal.ca

2 Myths about Writing Good writers begin with an outline Good writers work alone Good writers get it right the first time Good writers know all the rules of grammar

3 The Writing Process Recursive, messy, and overlapping stages of  Brainstorming  Composing  Revising  Editing

4 Myths about Thesis Statements Because academic essays are always the product of a single thinker, good writers develop their thesis statements in splendid isolation Because they always have a crystal-clear sense of where they are going, good writers begin writing with a fully developed thesis Because they have their arguments figured out before they begin, good writers never change their thesis statements

5 The Truth about Thesis Statements The most effective and relevant thesis statements are produced not in isolation, but in conversation with teachers, other students, and writers It’s best to begin with a “working thesis,” one that functions as an enabling guide rather than a constraining dictate Good thesis statement are the product of regular and ongoing revision; the nuance and detail they demand are usually discovered in the process of writing

6 The Purpose of a Thesis Statement To provide a concise statement against which a writer can test her ideas To help organize and develop an essay’s argument To provide readers with a guide, a “touchstone” that helps them understand an argument and the relevance of its evidence

7 Types of Essays Analytical: An analytical essay breaks down and evaluates an issue or an idea Expository: An expository essay explains something Argumentative: An argumentative essay makes a claim and “proves” it with specific evidence

8 Analytical Thesis:  Through these hypotheses and experiments, it will be deduced that there is a lower limit to the minimum rate of flow of propane required fro continuous combustion to occur.  An analytical thesis statement usually explains The subject of analysis The parts of the analysis The order of the analysis

9 Expository Thesis:  Milton’s “Sonnet XIX” may articulate a clear answer to the speaker’s problem, but some of its poetic techniques – especially its use of personification and enjambment – strongly suggest that a satisfying resolution remains out of reach.  An expository thesis statement usually indicates What the essay will explain The categories of explanation The order of explanation

10 Argumentative Thesis:  Recent research indicates that community service encourages high school students’ academic growth and, by heightening their maturity, discipline, and intellectual engagement, better prepares them for university work.  An argumentative thesis statement will include T he essay’s claim or assertion The supporting evidence The order of presentation

11 What Makes a Good Thesis? A good thesis...  adopts a clear position  justifies discussion  presents a single idea  is specific  avoids vague language  provides readers with a guide  addresses possible objections

12 What Makes a Bad Thesis?

13 Non-Thesis The author argues that we don’t have free speech. Revised: Drawing on Foucault’s theory of the panopticon, the author argues that speech is never utterly free, but is shaped by social and cultural expectations and an always-present sense of audience.

14 Too-Broad Thesis Freedom of speech should sometimes be restricted. Revised: Since overtly racist and sexist language has been shown to have a dramatic effect on individual perceptions of others, the university is right to enforce the code that bars offensive and inappropriate speech.

15 Incontestable Thesis Child pornography exploits the young and vulnerable. Revised: Because child pornography exploits the young and vulnerable, much stiffer penalties need to be given to those who possess and, especially, produce it.

16 List Thesis None of the arguments in favor of regulating pornography is wholly persuasive. Revised: Emphasizing female victimization while ignoring the social and economic empowerment some women find working in the porn industry, none of the feminist arguments favoring regulation is wholly persuasive.

17 Sample Thesis Statements: Good or Bad? Sex has shown to, not only, improve several aspects of one’s physical health, but to also improve a person or persons’ psychological well-being. Therefore, if a person participates in frequent sexual activities with their partners, both their health should show a change for the better.

18 The two works, Black Boy and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, explore the relationship between the protagonists and their womenfolk especially their mothers and grandmothers, and the effect that these women have in the determination of the type of people they become.

19 Although it is often difficult to split ideology and economics in “Maoist” thinking, this essay seeks to sift through the arguments of both sides to demonstrate that, although political factors were significant, it was the primacy of economics rather than politics that propelled Mao and the CCP to abandon the Soviet model in the mid-1950’s.

20 Personally, despite the Oswald “lone assassin” story, I believe that the US government was ultimately responsible for the Presidents assassination and Oswald was just a patsy.

21 Write a Thesis Plagiarism is unethical.

22 The Thesis Checklist Does the thesis answer the research question? Does the thesis take up a position that a reasonable person might challenge or oppose? Does the thesis answer the “so what” question? Does the thesis inspire the reader? (i.e., is it provocative?) Does the thesis avoid general or vague statements?


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