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English 110C.01. Day #7. Thesis Statements. Thesis Statements (cont.). Q. What is a thesis ? A. A thesis is the primary claim in a piece of writing that attempts to give meaning to evidence taken from a subject

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thesis statements cont
Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • Q. What is a thesis?
  • A. A thesis is the primary claim in a piece of writing that attempts to give meaning to evidence taken from a subject
  • You can think of a thesis as the writer’s main argument (i.e. the main point he or she is making).
    • Example: Steven D. Stark’s main argument is that Oprah Winfrey is the leader in the talk show genre and reached that position by distinguishing herself from Phil Donahue and his journalistic approach to television talk shows by using a therapeutic method that privileged the personal over the political.
thesis statements cont4
Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • What a Good Thesis Does:
    • It promotes thinking about the writer’s subject matter.
    • It reduces scope (i.e. the subject matter of the writer’s essay).
    • It contains tension, or conflict (i.e. a good thesis is complex) that the writer attempts to make sense of or resolve throughout the essay.
thesis statements cont5
Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • What a Bad Thesis Does:
    • It shuts down thinking about the writer’s subject matter (e.g., presenting an argument that the writer has settled beforehand in his or her mind).
    • It presents an idea that is too large and distracts the writer from thinking about its complexity.
    • It makes the same general point over and over again.
    • It includes too much information.
  • Remember: A good thesis includes only information that is important and relevant to the writer’s subject matter.
thesis statements cont6
Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • How to Develop a Good Thesis:
    • Focus on an area of the subject in which it is possible to have multiple interpretations.
    • Approach the thesis as a problem that you will try to solve in the body of your essay or as a hypothesis that you will test in the body of your paper.
    • Repeatedly ask this question: So What? Why is this problem important? Why does it matter?
recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont

Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)

Remember: a strong thesis makes a claim that requires analysis and is not something that would be obvious to one’s readers.

recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont9
Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • Weak Thesis Statement #1: Makes No Claim
    • Example: Steven D. Stark’s essay “The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Talk-Show Furor” delineates the evolution of the modern daytime talk show.
  • The Problem: the thesis does not make a point or take a position.
  • Solution: Raise specific issues that the essay will explore
    • Example: Steven D. Stark’s essay “The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Talk-Show Furor” delineates the evolution of the modern daytime talk show in an effort to show how Oprah Winfrey revolutionized the talk show genre in the 1980’s by treating her talk show as a “ministry,” one that offered healing.
recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont10
Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • Weak Thesis Statement #2: Obviously True or a Statement of Fact
    • Example: Oprah Winfrey is a daytime talk show host.
  • The Problem: the thesis is a true statement that does not require proof, and it is non-specific (i.e. vague).
  • Solution: Make an assertion about the subject matter in which it would be possible for one’s reader to disagree or raise an issue about the subject matter
    • Example: Oprah Winfrey is the undisputed “queen” of the daytime television talk show genre, and her appeal is due in large part to her interactions with her guests in which she hugs them and cries with them.
recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont11
Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • Weak Thesis Statement #3: Offers Personal Conviction as the Basis for the Claim
    • Example: Oprah Winfrey is not the leader of the talk show genre. The leading talk show host is Maury Povich because his shows are more interesting.
  • The Problem: the thesis is a judgment rather than a claim and offers only a personal conviction.
recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont12
Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • The Solution: Treat your thesis statement as an idea or claim about the meaning and importance of your subject matter that can be supported with evidence.
    • Example: While Oprah Winfrey’s success as a daytime talk show host has bred imitators such as Ricki Lake, Winfrey continues to dominate the talk show genre due to the reassurance she offers her viewers.
recognizing and fixing weak thesis statements cont13
Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements (cont.)
  • Weak Thesis Statement #4: Makes an Overly Broad Claim
    • Example: Oprah Winfrey is a successful daytime talk show host.
  • The Problem: the thesis oversimplifies the matter, is too broad, and fails to address the complexity of Stark’s essay.
  • The Solution: Make your claims specific and discuss the complexity of your subject matter.
    • Example: According to Steven D. Stark, Oprah Winfrey is a successful daytime talk show host, but her success is due to many interrelated factors including her likeable personality, the intimacy she creates with her audience, and the therapeutic aura of her talk show. All of these factors work in tandem to set Winfrey apart from her contemporaries such as Maury Povich and Jenny Jones and therefore contribute to her success.
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