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Thesis and Thesis Examples

Assignment Summary

A Thesis:

•is the single most important passage in your paper. Your writing should be especially careful and clear here; you don't want any confusion or awkwardness!

•is the single statement (typically one complex sentence, but it can be two or three) version of your paper. It should provide, in brief form, the main content of your paper.

•is the most concise formulation of your argument–the no frills version of the case you are making. It should very clearly make a case, argue a point!

•is a quick summary of the ground your paper will cover

•is a precise roadmap telling your reader not only the points you will make (usually 3-5), but also the order in which you will make them. Or, if you prefer, you can think of it as a promise to your readers: "I argue this and this, and I'll be doing it in this order."

•is, once youíve written it, your guide to how you want your paper to be structured

•is typically the last sentence of your first paragraph

•must strike a balance between hyper-specificity and vagueness. You will be able to flesh everything out later, so donít give it all away, but try to avoid tragic vagueness: ìTo convince the reader of his argument, Bob Dole uses several different strategies and techniques. Take away Dole's name and that could apply to any article!

Thesis as a Roadmap: Structure

Let's say this is your thesis:

ìDole adopts a complimentary tone to pull in Hollywood and its supporters, makes extensive use of quotes by studio executives (and even mentions democratic senators) to suggest broad support for his indecency concerns, and presents a case study of one studio's evolution over time to support his assertion that a line has now been crossed. But in trying both to praise and condemn Hollywood, to please those who dislike it and recruit those within it, he occasionally spreads himself too thin, failing to please either group.

What does it tell the reader? Well, most obviously, it suggests the content of your argument, which, roughly, can be broken down into four parts: Dole's "complimentary tone," his "extensive use of quotes," his "case study of one studio's evolution," and his spreading himself "too thin." One would expect that content to be reflected in the paper itself. So, a mention of Dole's possibly flawed examples (which would seem to have no relevance to any of the four components) or the complete absence of any discussion of his complimentary tone (which your thesis suggests is one of your four main concerns) would be a problem. Content of paper and thesis must match. They might not in the first draft; you may, after starting with this thesis, eventually find yourself launching full force into a discussion about the poor examples in his speech. A problem? Not if that discussion adds in some way to the argument you're making. And (this is crucial) as long as you shift your thesis so it reflects this change in content. You might, for example, reword that final sentence to this: "But his speech is hampered by examples which, under the careful examination speeches do not allow, seem poorly thought out." So, now that we've got content down, what about sequence?

Thesis as a Roadmap: Sequence

Your thesis also suggests how your paper will be structured or ordered. Take another look at your Dole thesis. Youíll notice that you mention the "complimentary tone" before the "extensive use of quotes," and that you get to his spreading himself too thin last of all. Is the order arbitrary? It shouldn't be; you should have some reason for ordering your thesis that way. But even if you didn't give much thought to the order of your thesis, a perceptive reader will. He/she will assume that this order previews the order of the actual paper. So, in the case of your thesis, the perceptive reader will expect that the paper will first talk about the tone, then the quotes, next the case study, and last the problems you outline. If your paper starts with Dole's mistakes, then goes to his use of examples, you're in trouble. You've broken the promise of your thesis. The point, to repeat, is that the thesis should also reflect the order of your paper. If at some point you switch the order within the paper, remember that you should change your thesis to match it.

To wrap up, here's what a paper featuring your Dole thesis might look like:

Intro paragraph_____________

Dole speaks of Hollywood in
complimentary terms, apparently aiming to
recruit, rather than vilify, its members.
___a few paragraphs on this point______

By using lengthy quotes from Hollywood
insiders, and by mentioning democrats, Dole implies
that his position is not extreme, but broadly supported.
___a few paragraphs on this point______

Dole also uses the specific example of Timewarner,
comparing its current output to what it produced in the 1930s, to
support his assertion that recent songs and films have crossed a line
into indecency._____paragraphs on this point______

But Dole's attempts both to recruit and attack the entertainment
industry prevent him from completely satisfying either side: Hollywood insiders
or its critics._____a few paragraphs on this point____

concluding paragraph_________________________

Each of the four sections, you'll note, begins with a single statement elaboration of a thesis component. This statement is sometimes called a mini-thesis. What the thesis does for the entire paper, it does for a single section.

Thesis Examples

1) In this passage, Cohen uses many different types of strategies to portray his argument to the many different types of people all around the world. Some of these strategies are having a strong and clearly expressed thesis, using various types of facts to back up his thoughts, logos appeals, the use of the third person point of view, predicting the reactions of the audience, and avoiding common fallacies in order to make it appear as if the author is an "expert" in his field.

2) In his essay, Sagan uses multiple techniques to persuade the reader into agreeing with the theory that primates have the ability to abstract. Three methods Sagan uses to convince the reader are, the overuse of case studies done on primates, Carl Sagan's overall tone, of which he writes the paper, and lastly the use of pathos, which he uses at the end of the paper to appeal to the reader's emotions.

3) To substantiate his argument, Asimov employs techniques such as the ethos and pathos appeal, provides historical examples of significant scientists and their subsequent contributions to society, implements the analytical approach, and asserts his own authoritative opinions. His writing style also has an allure that attracts the casual reader and appeals to everyone.

4) In his piece Sagan shows a lot of situations in which the animals are taught to use sign language, and put together some ideas such as a duck landing in a pond and a chimpanzee calling it a water bird. To explain his view Sagan uses a variety of literary techniques from expert opinions down to his own argumentation.

5) To implement his ideas about the animal rights movement Regan informally applies ethos appeal to illustrate his devoted character, pathos support of extreme analogies to generate awkward emotions, and logos to slightly reinforce both through common logic.

6) However, by using evidence such as case studies on chimpanzees, an opinion by an educated reporter familiar with sign language, and pathos appeal to entice the reader's sentiment, Sagan makes his point known to the reader.

Instructor's Comments

genre all
course WRT 101 and up
activity type n/a
skills thesis development
duration n/a
contributor: Ryan Calvey