Work for Friday -- It's all about the Introduction and the Thesis
Things to Keep in Mind for Your Introduction and Thesis --
- You should reread the assignment description to help you compose your introduction and thesis.
- You must set a bit of historical context (a mini-historical context) for your readers -- the who (the writer or the rhetor), the what (the primary source document and the issue or problem it was addressing), the when (the timeframe).
- Your thesis statement should make some claim about HOW your primary source document went out into the world and made a particular something happen in a particular historical context. You might want to also include something about the following:
- how the source and the issue is connected to the ideas of liberty, equality, and order
- how the source and the issue is connected to a present day social, political, or cultural issue
Pay Close Attention to the following Part:
- an intriguing example—for example, Douglass writes about a mistress who initially teaches him but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about slavery.
- a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument—for example, Douglass writes that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other.” (Quotes from famous people, inspirational quotes, etc. may not work well for an academic paper; in this example, the quote is from the author himself.)
- a puzzling scenario—for example, Frederick Douglass says of slaves that “[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!” Douglass clearly asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.
- a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote—for example, “Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School, students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and the rules that governed their lives. We didn’t discuss education, however, until one student, Mary, raised her hand and asked, ‘But when did they go to school?’ That modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.”
- a thought-provoking question—for example, given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy.