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English 104: Thesis Statements

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Information about English 104: Thesis Statements
Education

Published on February 15, 2014

Author: theresa_lee

Source: slideshare.net

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Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.
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English 104

Thesis Statements • What is a thesis statement? ▫ A summary of your argument in 1-3 sentences ▫ The main idea that you will explore in-depth within the body of your essay ▫ Your debatable opinion

Placement • Your thesis statement should come early in your paper, so the reader immediately knows the direction and purpose of your essay ▫ Ideally at the end of your introductory paragraph ▫ Note: When reading longer texts, particularly book-length works, the thesis can come after several introductory paragraphs

Tone • Write in third person ▫ Eliminate statements such as “I think,” “In my opinion,” “In this essay, I will show…” ▫ It is already understood that the essay is your opinion, so there is no need to state it ▫ Writing in third person will give your essay a stronger factual voice, making it more emphatic

Thesis Statements • What makes a good thesis statement? ▫ Focused, specific, clear, debatable • Avoid writing a thesis that is: ▫ Too general ▫ Too broad to be covered in the space/time provided ▫ Simply a compare and contrast

Example #1 • “Language is important to humanity” ▫ This thesis statement is too general and too broad to be covered in 5pgs. ▫ It is also not very debatable. Few would disagree and say that language is unimportant. ▫ If your thesis is already a generally accepted opinion, then there is no need to write an argumentative paper defending the claim.

Example #2 • “Chinese is spoken by the largest number of people, while English is spoken by the world’s leading superpower, so both languages are important.” ▫ A mediocre thesis statement that is mostly compare & contrast, largely observational, and vague in terms of what is ‘important’

Be specific • Refine your thesis by asking yourself “So what?”  “Language is important to humanity.” That’s great, but so what?  How is it important to humanity? What has it allowed us to achieve? What do you mean by ‘language’? • A better thesis statement: “Written communication was essential in allowing humans to evolve into a technologically advanced species.”  Much more specific, narrow, and focused  Improved diction and vocabulary

Be clear • Remember your reader ▫ Don’t assume that your reader will automatically know what you mean when you use general terms (like ‘language’) ▫ Clarify, demonstrate, define  With your thesis statement, as well as throughout the body of your essay

The Importance of Language • In this video, biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. ▫ Mark Pagel: How Language Transformed Humanity:

Activity • Write a thesis statement of about 1-3 sentences in response to Mark Pagel’s presentation. ▫ Consider the following questions:  Do you think his theory is correct? How likely do you think his theory is?  What parts did you agree or disagree with?  What evidence would you use to support your thesis?

Thesis Statements • Group discussions ▫ In groups of 4-5 people, discuss each other’s thesis statements:  Do you agree or disagree with the thesis?  Is the thesis statement debatable?  How can the thesis statement be improved? ▫ Have one person from your group share the results of your discussion with the class:  What did you discuss? Were there any particularly good thesis statements?

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