a thesis statement is supported by arguments.
- To teach you to state your case and prove it in a clear, appropriate, and lively manner
- To teach you to structure your thinking.
2. Limiting Your Subject
What will you name your topic? Clearly, “student behavior” is too broad; student behavior would necessarily include behavior by every kind of student, everywhere, at all times, and this could very well fill a book and require a master’s degree in psychology. Simply calling your subject “St. Patrick’s Day” would be misleading. You decide to limit the subject to “student behavior on St. Patrick’s Day.” After some thought, you decide that a better, more specific subject might be “unruly college student behavior such as that witnessed in front of La Salle’s in downtown Chico last St. Patrick’s Day.” (Be aware that this is not the title of your essay. You will title it much later.) You have now limited your subject and are ready to craft a thesis.
City council members stink and should be thrown in jail is not an argumentative thesis. City council members’ ineffectiveness is not a reason to send them to jail.
An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them.
A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be a few sentences long, but should not be longer than a paragraph. Do not begin to state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph.
Almost every assignment you complete for a history course will ask you to make an argument. Your instructors will often call this your “thesis” — your position on a subject.
As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:
This statement is more precise in that it identifies two American characteristics that drive-ins appear to symbolize: creativity and ingenuity. But this assertion also seems to be one that few would argue with.
The three-story thesis is a beautiful thing. For one, it gives a paper authentic momentum. The first paragraph doesn’t just start with some broad, vague statement; every sentence is crucial for setting up the thesis. The body paragraphs build on one another, moving through each step of the logical chain. Each paragraph leads inevitably to the next, making the transitions from paragraph to paragraph feel wholly natural. The conclusion, instead of being a mirror-image paraphrase of the introduction, builds out the third story by explaining the broader implications of the argument. It offers new insight without departing from the flow of the analysis.
I should note here that a paper with this kind of momentum often reads like it was knocked out in one inspired sitting. But in reality, just like accomplished athletes and artists, masterful writers make the difficult thing look easy. As writer Anne Lamott notes, reading a well written piece feels like its author sat down and typed it out, “bounding along like huskies across the snow.” However, she continues,