Presentation on theme: "What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement declares what the writer believes and what they intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference."— Presentation transcript:
What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement declares what the writer believes and what they intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful research project and a simple retelling of facts. A good tentative thesis helps both the writer and the reader focus on the information. Writers can not know how to take a stand on an issue until the evidence is examined.
Writers begin their research with a working, preliminary or tentative thesis which is continually refined until the writer is certain of where the evidence leads. The thesis statement is typically located at the end of your opening paragraph. (The opening paragraph purpose is to set the context for the thesis.) Remember, readers looking for your thesis. Make it clear, strong, and easy to find.
Attributes of a good thesis: It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion the writer presents. It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned. It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing “everything about …” Instead of music, think "American jazz in the 1930s" and your argument about it.
It clearly asserts the writer’s conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. The evidence may lead to a conclusion the writer didn't think they’d reach. It is perfectly okay to change the thesis! In fact it is expected! It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through the writer’s work and thinking.
It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments. It avoids vague language (like "it seems"). It avoids the first person. ("I believe," "In my opinion") It should pass the So what? or Who cares? test (Would your most honest friend ask why he should care or respond with "but everyone knows that"?) For instance, "people should avoid driving under the influence of alcohol," would be unlikely to evoke any opposition.So what? or Who cares? test
Suppose your English Teacher hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain's novel Huckleberry Finn. "This will be easy," you think. "I loved Huckleberry Finn!" You grab a pad of paper and write: Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.
What a weak thesis statement! Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.
Why is this thesis weak? Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: you will most likely provide a general, appreciative summary of Twain's novel. The question did not ask you to summarize; it asked you to analyze. The Teacher is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; instead, she wants you to think about why it's such a great novel—what do Huck's adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race relations, etc.? First, the question asks students to pick an aspect of the novel that they think is important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now write:
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
Here's a working thesis with potential: The writer has highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation; however, it's still not clear what analysis will reveal. While the reader may be intrigued, they are left thinking, "So what? What's the point of this contrast? What does it signify?" Perhaps the writer isn’t sure either. The writer might want to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what can be discovered. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck's actions and reactions. Eventually the writer will develop a clear idea, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. After examining the evidence and considering one’s own insights, the writer writes:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain's Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave "civilized" society and go back to nature.
This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.