West Chester University

Fall 2001

Spring 2002

West Chester University

Fall 2002



Course Information
  Lit 165 Syllabus
  ENG 020 Syllabus
  About the Instructor

Notes for Introduction to Literature
  Approaching Literature
  Notes on the Art of Fiction: Early Forms
  The Short Story
  Graduate Students Define the Art of Fiction
  Bartleby the Scrivener - Questions for Analysis
  Notes on Melville
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  A Vocabulary for Short Fiction and Beyond
  Study Guide for Fiction Exam
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  A Catalogue of Poems
  Notes on Langston Hughes
  Lines of Continuity
  Poetry Take Home Exam
  The Birth of Drama
  A Doll House
  Study Guide for the Final Exam
  A Glossary of Literary Terms

Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
  The Rhetorical Situation
  Essay #1 Assignment Sheet
  Workshop Assignment for Essay#1
  How to Write Descriptively
  Building a Thesis
  Overcoming Reader's Block
  Analysis and the Culture of Advertising
  Essay #2 Assignment Sheet
  Writing Effective Introductions
  Writing Effective Conclusions
  Propaganda Analysis
  Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda: A Sample Analysis
  Midterm Exam: Tips for Writing on the Spot
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Mapping the Parts of an Arugment

General Announcements
  Announcements for LIT 165
  Assignments for LIT 165
  Announcements for ENG 020
  Assignments for ENG 020


Go Exploring
  A Weblog for LIT 165
  A Weblog for ENG 020

Join the Conversation
  LIT 165 Discussion List
  ENG 020 Discussion List

~~ Building The Thesis ~~


Start with the simple equation:
THESIS = subject + assertion

A strong thesis essential to a successful essay. Without it your essay will lack focus-it'll seem to have little direction. A clear thesis, on the other hand, helps you and the reader stay on track. It's often called the "main idea" or the "controlling idea" because it controls the content of the essay.

POINT TO REMEMBER. A thesis names your general subject and makes an assertion about that subject. It states the topic and the point you want to make about that topic. A strong thesis, therefore, is both general and explicit.


I believe in heroes-that they still exist-but they aren't like celebrities; in fact, heroes differ greatly from celebrities in that their actions are meaningful rather than frivolous, selfless rather than self-aggrandizing, and courageous rather than brazen.

Why is this a good thesis?
First, the subject is named. (heroes )
Next, the assertion is clear-it is both general and explicit. (…they exist but are unlike celebrities in that their actions are meaningful, selfless, and courageous…)

POINT TO REMEMBER: The thesis is a general statement with explicit terms. In the above example, three qualities are named (made explicit), but they are all general enough to need further explanation (they suggest how the writer needs to develop the paper).

POINT TO REMEMBER: The thesis is a complete, grammatical sentence which is smoothly integrated into the essay. It usually appears somewhere in the introduction, but may be repeated throughout the essay in slightly different words. When you use explicit terms, you may find it helpful to remember to use parallel sentence structure.

Which of the following thesis statements do you think are strong? Which ones weak?

What are your reasons?

The ideal teacher is knowledgeable about the subject matter and good at finding ways to communicate that knowledge.

The ideal teacher knows a lot.

Three passions I have lived for are music, art, and literature.

Three passions I have lived for are music, painting, and to write stories.

These thesis statements are all strong, and they all suggest that an expressive essay will follow.

  • I hope college will improve my general knowledge and my chances of getting a good job.
  • Moving to St. Louis has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my career, make new friends, and see new places.
  • The ideal student has an eager, independent curiosity and self-determination to meet difficult challenges.
  • The ideal guitar shop is well stocked and has a friendly, inviting atmosphere.
  • The ideal classroom is an open mind.






Questions? Contact me.

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The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
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