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C:\Documents And Settings\Lykkenla\Desktop\Spring2010\1022 70\The Thesis


Finding a thesis when writing about literature.

Finding a thesis when writing about literature.

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  • Good afternoon. Today we are going to review the thesis statement: why having a thesis is important, how to come up with thesis, and where to put that thesis in the essay.
  • When we ask someone to read our writing, they are doing us a favor. We need our writing to be as clear and easy to follow as we can manage to have it be…knowing what we want that piece of writing to accomplish and sharing that with our readers is the job of the thesis statement.
  • What happens when we don’t have a thesis or think we might have one and ask our readers to tell us what that thesis is?
  • Because the thesis statement controls and directs the choices you make about the content of your essay, you need the thesis to tell you what to and what not to include in your essayIf we don’t have a thesis or are not clear about what our thesis is, we don’t know what information to include and what information to exclude as we write.
  • Sometime before drafting our essay and even before planning and shaping our essay, we need to devise a tentative thesis statement. We will want to revisit this tentative thesis after drafting and again during revising. We want to be sure that the thesis accurately represents the topic as we have narrowed it and our idea about that narrowed topic.
  • One way to help ourselves get our idea for the thesis into a cogent sentence is to ask a question.
  • The way we answer the question is our thesis!
  • For our purposes for our next two essays, we will be putting our thesis at the end of our introduction. Be aware, though, that this is not the ONLY place a reader will find a thesis. This is important to know because the sources your choose to use might not follow the same convention we are currently following.
  • #1, Okay—identify the topic and make an assertion about the topic that the writer must document in the body of the essay.#2 too general and opinionated # 3 would be better with “I believe” removed…that weakens the thesis (an apology of sorts) #4 would work for an explanation#5 would work as an argumentative thesis #6 weak—too general and opinionated.


  • 1. The Thesis
    Composition 1
    Spring 2010
    Based on the reading assignments in Models for Writers, 10th ed., Chapter 3
  • 2. Don’t make your reader wonder:“Where is the thesis statement?”
    The thesis lets your readers know what point your are trying to make. Without a thesis, your writing can be confusing and ineffective.
  • 3. Having a thesis is up to you…
    …not your reader!!
  • 4. End reader confusion; haveathesis!
    Readers expect everything you say in your essay to be logically related to your thesis.
    When your reader is your instructor, having no thesis means earning a poor grade on your essay!
    So what?!
  • 5. What IS a Thesis?
    The main or controlling idea of an essay
    The point the writer is trying to make about the topic or issue
    The most important point you make about your topic.
    More general than the ideas and facts used to support it
    Appropriately focused for the length of your paper
  • 6. How do I get one?
    Ask a question:
    • Why doesn’t Eveline go with Frank in James Joyce’s short story “Eveline”?
    • 7. In what way does the very presence of Desiree challenge the assumptions of the society at the time the story “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin is set?
    • 8. How can “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson be seen as a condemnation of a rigid adherence to gender roles?
    But don’t stop there!!
  • 9. A thesis is a statement not a question.
    Answer the question you or your assignment asks to find your thesis.
    • Eveline decides not to go with Frank for several reasons that are hinted at during the course of the story.
    • 10. Because Desiree is a blank slate when she enters the antebellum southern society of the story’s setting, the characters are able to project their biases—both positive and negative—on her.
    • 11. Shirley Jackson plants several clues in her short story “The Lottery” to point us toward a feminist interpretation including the procedure used in the lottery and eventhe name of the main character.
  • Where do I put my thesis?
    • Most often, early in the essay
    • 12. Sometimes the first sentence
    • 13. More often at the end of an introduction that has established a context for your writing.
    • 14. Occasionally the middle or end of the essay
    • 15. To make the thesis easier for the reader to understand
    • 16. To make the thesis easier for the reader to accept
  • End of introduction example
    Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, proposed that “every person is born equipped with a collective unconscious, a set of images including many universal characters” (McMahan, Day, and Funk 1178). In other words, we are all born with a certain amount of shared ideas about the world and people who inhabit it. The ideas that we share are called archetypes , and they often work their way into literary works as a kind of shorthand. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson contains the following archetypes: the devil in disguise, the legion of misguided followers, and, of course, the martyr.
  • 17. Good thesis or not?
    Directions: narrow the following thesis statements to make them less broad and more workable. Use your book to review the story for ideas.
    Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is a compelling story about scapegoats.
    The ritual of the lottery itself serves as a symbol in Shirley Jackson’s story.
    The setting of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is an important element in contributing to the effectiveness of the story.
    The characters function symbolically in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  • 18. Possible Revisions
    Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” presents a compelling indictment of the practice of blaming innocent people for society’s ills.
    The ritual of the lottery itself serves as a symbol of a society dominated by unexamined tradition.
    The impact of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” depends largely on the contrast between the placid, ordinary setting and the horrifying conclusion.
    The characters in “The Lottery” symbolize the conflict between tradition and progress.