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Thesis Statements. 2014. It declares what you intend to prove. Not a simple retelling of facts (i.e. a summary) Must be clear, concise and easy to identify. What is a Thesis?. A thesis… Is never a question Is not a list Should not be vague, combative or confrontational.

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what is a thesis

It declares what you intend to prove.

  • Not a simple retelling of facts (i.e. a summary)
  • Must be clear, concise and easy to identify
What is a Thesis?
slide3

A thesis…

    • Is never a question
    • Is not a list
    • Should not be vague, combative or confrontational

I recognize that this is contradictory. I say don’t give a list, but then say don’t be vague. It is a fine line that takes practice.

how a thesis is written

A thesis statement relating to literature always has two parts: a what and a how.

  • What = What you are asserting to be true about a text
  • How = Your identification of the evidence in the text you will use to support your assertion.
How A Thesis Is Written
elements of a thesis

In the 19th century novel Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain criticizes the shallow optimism of Romanticism by presenting characters such as Tom, the Duke, and the Sheperdsons who are victims of their own dreams.

Elements of a Thesis
elements of a thesis1

In the 19th century novel Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain criticizes the shallow optimism of Romanticismby presenting characters such as Tom, the Duke, and the Sheperdsons who are victims of their own dreams.

Elements of a Thesis
elements of a thesis2

In the ground-breaking Harry Potter franchise, author J.K. Rowling creates a new type of Christian allegory by presenting Harry Potter as a Christ figure who must suffer in order to save others.

Elements of a Thesis
elements of a thesis3

In the ground-breaking Harry Potter franchise, author J.K. Rowling creates a new type of Christian allegory by presenting Harry Potter as a Christ figure who must suffer in order to save others.

Elements of a Thesis
elements of a thesis4

Arthur Miller uses his play The Death of a Salesman to explore the misguided absurdity of the American Dreamby depicting Willy Loman’s vain descent into self-destruction and the consequent naïve adoration he receives from his son Happy.

Elements of a Thesis
what do all three have in common

Arthur Miller uses his play The Death of a Salesman to explore the misguided absurdity of the American Dreamby depicting Willy Loman’s vain descent into self-destruction and the consequent naïve adoration he receives from his son Happy.

In the ground-breaking Harry Potter franchise, author J.K. Rowling creates a new type of Christian allegory by presenting Harry Potter as a Christ figure who must suffer in order to save others.

In the 19th century novel Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain criticizes the shallow optimism of Romanticismby presenting characters such as Tom, the Duke, and the Sheperdsons who are victims of their own dreams.

What do all three have in common?
slide11

Arthur Miller uses his play The Death of a Salesman to explore the misguided absurdity of the American Dream by depicting Willy Loman’s vain descent into self-destruction and the consequent naïve adoration he receives from his son Happy.

In the ground-breaking Harry Potter franchise, author J.K. Rowling creates a new type of Christian allegory by presenting Harry Potter as a Christ figure who must suffer in order to save others.

In the 19th century novel Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain criticizes the shallow optimism of Romanticismby presenting characters such as Tom, the Duke, and the Sheperdsons who are victims of their own dreams.

the importance of by

The word “by” separates the “what” and “how” of your thesis.

  • Likely, if you are not using the word “by,” you probably do not have both parts of the thesis in place.
  • “Through the use of” is the only other possible option
The Importance of “By”
slide13

A thesis always has a WHAT and a HOW, and you are to separate them using the word BY

  • Bad: In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield slowly goes insane because the adult world doesn’t care about him.

Good: In J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, the author presents a reflection on the disillusionment of American youth by depicting the angst-ridden protagonist Holden Caulfield’s descent into madness and self-destruction in the face of an uncaring world.

slide14

A thesis should be specific and not overly broad, and should demonstrate an interpretation of the text, not just a summary of it.

Bad: Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest tells the story of patients in a mental hospital who struggle with the Nurse and her overbearing control.

Good: Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest bitterly criticizes 20th century America’s proclivity for destroying individuality by presenting the patients of a mental hospital symbolically as victims of the vicious combine.

slide15

A thesis should avoid lengthy lists.

Bad: Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest bitterly criticizes 20th century America’s proclivity for destroying individuality by presenting Harding as a repressed homosexual, Billy Bibbet as a suicidal man controlled by his mother, Bromden as a man who has been stripped of his heritage, McMurphy as a loner who is incriminated for his sexuality, and the Nurse as a dominant figure of society’s power to control.

Good: Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest bitterly criticizes 20th century America’s proclivity for destroying individuality by presenting a variety of patients who are made to feel like helpless “rabbits” due to their unique desires that conflict with society’s expectations.

another sample

Imagine you are asked the question, “What message about the world do the realist authors have?”

Bad Thesis:

  • The realists say that life is grim.

Better Thesis:

  • The realists revolt against romanticism in a grim depiction of life.

Best Thesis:

  • The realists revolt against the imaginative elements of romanticism by writing short stories wherein the fantasies of characters do nothing to prevent their violent fates.
Another Sample
a sample

Watch the following music video “Jeremy” by the band Pearl Jam.

  • What thesis could you write about what the song is trying to communicate?
  • Pearl Jam - "Jeremy"
A Sample
jeremy

Bad Thesis:

    • Pearl Jam question the state of modern America.
  • Better Thesis:
    • In their work “Jeremy,” Pearl Jam present the consequences of teenage alienation in modern America.
  • Best Thesis
    • In their grunge rock anthem “Jeremy,” Pearl Jam assert the dangers of alienation felt by 20th century teenagers by presenting the violent results of a young man who has been ignored by his parents, teachers, and classmates.
“Jeremy”