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Introductions - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Introductions. An introduction Grabs your readers’ attention; Makes them feel compelled to keep reading; Makes the readers believe the subject is important enough for them to read about; .

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An introductionGrabs your readers’ attention; Makes them feel compelled to keep reading;Makes the readers believe the subject is important enough for them to read about; 

But most importantly, an introduction“Sets up” the THESIS by focusing the readers’ attention on the central QUESTION AT ISSUE/PROBLEM/CONFLICT. It describes the question at issue/problem/conflict, and in so doing, prevents readers from saying “Huh? Where is this coming from?”Often, the intro leads readers to a statement of the essay’s main point.

Explain your unique relationship to the issue:For many years, there has been a division among the people of the US over whether English should be made the Official language of the nation. Many people who want official English believe it will help unite our diverse country. Others worry that making English “official”—and thereby making it illegal to use taxpayer dollars to print any government documents or teach students in languages other than English—would only further marginalize non-English speaking citizens. The stakes are very high, and people are fighting it out.Like many, I find the issue a difficult one. I come from a biracial background, and my grandparents speak only their native language: Spanish. For many years, I’ve watched my mother translate for them and help them fill out documents. My grandparents are intelligent people, but they never learned English. Because of these experiences I initially objected to official English laws. However, after considering both sides of the issue, I’ve concluded that the US desperately needs to make English the official language of the country.

Draw an analogy (in other words, introduce your subject by comparing it to something readers will already be familiar with) If a stranger batters your door down with an axe, threatens your family and yourself with deadly weapons, and proceeds to loot your home of whatever he wants, he is committing what is universally recognized—by law and in common morality—as a crime. In such a situation the householder has both the right and the obligation to defend himself, his family, and his property by whatever means are necessary. This right and this obligation is universally recognized, justified, and praised by all civilized human communities. Self-defense against attack is one of the basic laws not only of human society, but of life itself, not only human life but of all life. The American wilderness, what little remains, is now undergoing exactly such an assault….And if the wilderness is our true home, and if it is threatened with invasion, pillage, and destruction—as it certainly is—then we have the right to defend that home, as we would our private quarters, by whatever means are necessary. From “Eco-Defense” by Edward Abbey

Begin with a relevant personal experience that dramatizes the issue: As my ten year old daughter and I walked hand in hand, I heard nothing but silence. I looked over and caught sight of her freckled face and asked myself how I could have been so stupid. We were in a creepy parking lot at 1am in Fresno, CA (a city, according to the Fresno Bee, currently holding the 3rd largest violent crime rate in the US). We had just seen a beautiful showing of Les Miserables, and my daughter wanted the leading lady’s autograph. After waiting an hour, we got it. The perfect ending to a perfect mother-daughter date. It felt wonderful holding the warm hand of my favorite person on that cold December night, but as we walked hand in hand, I was struck by the ominous silence. During our hour wait, everyone had left, and my car was at the far end of the parking lot. All I heard were the clicking of my heels on cold asphalt and the constant buzzing of the parking lot lamps. At that moment, I prayed for a police officer, a security guard, or a surveillance camera to offer some kind of protection for me and my little one. We made it to the car that night, and we drove safely home, but I realized how much I value the eyes of authority watching over me. How can decent members of a society growing more violent by the millisecond not desire to be watched? I knew that night that complete privacy is a luxury we can ill afford. Surveillance is an urgent necessity.

It was slow work but the man was determined. He’d picked a spot in vivid grass beside a spike of pale granite, near the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, and he would get his fire to burn. I came along and added to his troubles by suggesting that the meadow didn’t need another fire ring. “Back off,” he told me. He added some philosophy: “We’re all part of nature, you know, and so is my campfire. It’s not doing any harm.”

Since then I’ve countered this argument—that almost anything we do is “natural,” and thus acceptable—in many variants, in defense of abuses far more serious than a misplaced campfire. However, a careful examination of facts and values reveals that while humans are part of nature, many of their actions are unnatural.

Introduction to the Sierra Club Engagement Calendar by John Hart

Explain the conflict: a spot in vivid grass beside a spike of pale granite, near the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, and he China’s former leader Mao Zedong once declared war against sparrows, believing they were a pest and a nuisance. In response, millions of Chinese took to the streets, banging on woks and pans to terrify the birds. The idea: force them to stay aloft until they dropped dead of exhaustion. They did just that. The campaign was halted after an infestation of caterpillars, now freed of their feathered predators, devoured the crops, enveloped the trees, and rained down upon pedestrians. In that same grand tradition of meddling with nature, Alaska has declared an air war against hundreds of wolves in an effort to boost already abundant populations of caribou and moose. And all to impress hunters and tourists. Never mind that when herds swell, starvation is often close by. Chalk another one up to mankind’s micromanagement of nature. Recklessly arrogant and myopic, Alaska’s decision is rooted in special- interest economics, not biology. But it’s all the more distressing for what it tells us about ourselves as a species and our estrangement from nature. Alaska’s folly is the product of a theme-park mentality in which nature exists for our amusement. This mentality is dangerous, and we should try to change it. from “The World is not a Theme Park”

Set your argument up in contrast to another position on the same issue: Nowhere is modern thinking more muddled that over the question of whether it is proper to debate moral issues. Many argue it is not, saying it is wrong to make “value judgments.” Proponents of this position claim that it is unacceptable to make any kind of judgment about the thoughts, behavior, or attitudes of others because there is no “right” or “wrong” governing human beings. There is only “different.” What is right for you, may not be right for me, so neither of us is wrong (of course, what these advocates of no-judgment fail to see is that if no one is wrong, no one is right, either). This view is shallow and impractical. If simply offering such judgments were in itself wrong or improper, then ethics, philosophy, and theology would be unacceptable in a college curriculum—an idea that is obviously silly. Moreover, if we couldn’t make judgments, we couldn’t function at even the most basic level (Self mutilation and rape, for example, are not just “different” behaviors; they are wrong). In fact, as the following cases illustrate, it is impossible to avoid making value judgments.

A few things to keep in mind
A few things to keep in mind same issue:

  • First impressions are lasting impressions. Your introduction sets the tone for the rest of your essay.

  • Use your intro to prepare readers to consider your claim. Your intro should clearly present the central question at issue/problem/conflict and your thesis.

  • Use your intro to provide a sense of the “larger picture” surrounding your specific claim, but avoid beginning with huge generalizations like “The world has many problems.”