Writing Tips for Hum 1
The thesis statement
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|Despite what high school English teachers may say, there is no single
formula for a successful paper, nor will we be looking for one in this
class. The most important characteristics of a good paper include a structure
in which ideas are logically connected and easy to follow, clear and precise
communication, and distinct points that all contribute to the overall purpose
of the paper.
Sometimes the hardest step is deciding what, exactly, your paper will be about. Some writers describe this concise description as a thesis. However, this term is not used to imply that all papers must be persuasive in intent (at least in the strictest sense of the term). You should be able to state in a sentence what exactly the paper is about. Some writing teachers encourage students to come up with a title first, because if you can't state what the paper is about in a concise title, you should perhaps rethink the thesis.
Romantic views of nature.
The Romantic views of Lanier and Bierstadt personified nature as an active and awesome entity.
This paper is a comparison of selected poems of Stephen Crane and Walt Whitman.
While the poetry of Whitman and Crane show a breakdown in traditional structures, it is Crane who looks forward to the alienation of modernism.
How does Ives's "Emerson" movement reflect Emerson's views on art?
Despite its seeming abstract nature, the Emerson movement of Ives's "Concord" Piano Sonata realizes Emerson's ideal of art which detaches and focuses the mind on the transcendental.
In "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," Whitman reminisces about an incident in his childhood.
In "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," Whitman uses a frame narrative in order to reconcile the innocence of a childhood revelation with his own mortality.
Remember: you don't want the reader to finish the paper and say, "So what?"
A paper should never summarize or restate other people's ideas, whether from class discussions or other sources. Of course, these sources may help provide inspiration for your own ideas or evidence for your points, but the thesis should be an idea original with you.
The dream-like aspects of Rousseau's paintings influenced de Chirico, and their juxtaposition of perspectives influenced Picasso.
The dream-like aspects of Rousseau's paintings deeply influenced de Chirico, and set the stage for surrealism.
The juxtaposition of perspectives in Rousseau's paintings influenced Picasso and set the stage for cubism.
The music of Erik Satie was revolutionary.
The early music of Erik Satie already showed remarkable reactions against romanticism.
The early music of Erik Satie already showed remarkable reactions against Wagnerism in its harmonies, scope, and influences from early and popular music.
However, if the thesis states, "Satie's simplicity and startling juxtapositions effectively prefigured the early neoclassical works of Stravinsky," then it's no longer necessary to establish a causal relationship, merely one of time. Of course, a more vague wording of a thesis does not make up for failures of research, but any claim you make that is not an obvious fact, including opinion, criticism, and interpretation, needs to be backed up by a) factual evidence, b) an example, or c) a citation.
Sometimes it will take several tries and a lot of research before you formulate a thesis that precisely states what you intend to communicate and have evidence for. It is, at times, helpful to "write your way to an idea," but that's only a first step, not what you turn in! If your thesis does not fulfill the suggestions above, it may reveal shortcomings in your concepts for your paper. You should be grateful to have found such shortcomings, because that realization can set you down a much more fruitful path.