3.4: Exercises

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1. Find a scholarly article or book that is interesting to you. Focusing on the abstract and introduction, outline the first, second, and third stories of its thesis.
2. Here is a list of one-story theses. Come up with two-story and three-story versions of each one.A. Television programming includes content that some find objectionable.B. The percent of children and youth who are overweight or obese has risen in recent decades.C. First-year college students must learn how to independently manage their time.D. The things we surround ourselves with symbolize who we are.
3. Find an example of a five-paragraph theme (online essay mills, your own high school work), produce an alternative three-story thesis, and outline an organically structured paper to carry that thesis out.
4. Go to the SAT website about the essay exam, choose one of the highly rated sample essays. In structure, how does it compare to the five-paragraph theme? How does it compare to the organic college essay? Use the SAT essay example you found to create alternative examples for Figures 3.1 and 3.2.
other resources
1. The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an excellent, readable run-down on the five-paragraph theme, why most college writing assignments want you to go beyond it, and those times when the simpler structure is actually a better choice.
2. There are many useful websites that describe good thesis statements and provide examples. Those from the writing centers at Hamilton College, Purdue University, and Clarkson University are especially helpful.

References

1 “Organic” here doesn’t mean “pesticide-free” or containing carbon; it means the paper grows and develops, sort of like a living thing.

2 For more see Fabio Lopez-Lazaro “Linen.” In Encyclopedia of World Trade from Ancient Times to the Present. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.

4 The metaphor is extraordinarily useful even though the passage is annoying. Beyond the sexist language of the time, I don’t appreciate the condescension toward “fact-collectors.” which reflects a general modernist tendency to elevate the abstract and denigrate the concrete. In reality, data-collection is a creative and demanding craft, arguably more important than theorizing.

5 Drawn from Jennifer Haytock, Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism(New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008).

6Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Pantheon, 1994), 21.

This page titled 3.4: Exercises is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amy Guptill.