Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

8.3: Text-Based Thesis Statement

  • Page ID
    225930
    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    HOW CAN I WRITE A TEXT-BASED THESIS?

    When writing about a text, it can be challenging to separate your opinion from the author’s when forming a thesis. Oftentimes, students will create an arguable thesis statement, but it will be the author’s thesis. Or sometimes, the thesis will summarize what happened more than argue a clear point. Your reader knows what the author thinks because s/he will have read what the author wrote, but your reader doesn’t know what YOU think which should be the focus of the paper. Lead papers with your own, original argument—arguing your point on the text is the purpose of the essay.

    When writing about a text, DON’T:

    1. Give the author’s thesis as your own.
    2. Summarize what happened instead of giving an argument.
    3. Give general advice that doesn’t directly address the text and is too large to prove in an essay.

    When writing about a text, DO:

    1. Give your own original take and opinion on the text.
    2. Only summarize parts of the text that directly prove your thesis.
    3. Provide a specific, text-based argument that can be fully proven in the assigned page length of the essay.

    How do I write an original, arguable thesis about a text?

    1. Figure out the central argument or moral of the story and give your opinion on it. Ask yourself “so what?” So what is the significance or importance of this? So what are the outcomes or repercussions? So what has been overlooked? So what are some different opinions? So why should someone care?
    2. Narrow the topic down. Oftentimes, when responding to an author’s text, it is a long piece—much longer than the paper you are assigned to write on it. Therefore, don’t take on the entire text. Break down its elements and respond to a motif, a character, a symbol, a chapter, a smaller issue that was raised.
    Practice: Text-based thesis statements

    For the following text-based thesis statements, tell which of the following descriptions best fit each one?

    Revise it: It gives the AUTHOR’S THESIS instead of the writer’s own argument

    Revise it: It SUMMARIZES what happened instead of giving an argument

    Revise it: It gives GENERAL ADVICE that doesn’t directly address the text and is too large to
    prove in an essay.

    FINE AS IS: Thesis is arguable, text-based and should lead to a good analysis of the reading
    1. In Generation Me, Jean Twenge shows how those born in the 70s, 80s and 90s were raised with too much self-esteem and she argues that this leads to apathy, depression, loneliness and higher suicide rates.
    2. Life is short so follow you our own path and make the best of what you have.
    3. In Sarah Katin’s “Naked,” the narrator’s experience in a Korean bathhouse reveals that American notions of nudity are unhealthy because how American women are taught to view their own bodies produces feelings of shame, discomfort in their own skins, and it distances women from each other.
    4. Margot Schilpp provides us with a declaration of her thoughts, feelings and views of the world and what she thinks about love.
    5. On the surface, in Layne Mosler’s “Cab Fare,” an American food reviewer seeks the recommendations of local cab drivers to find the best, non-touristy restaurants in Buenos Aires, but here food becomes symbolic for the fundamental nourishment people seek and their desire to reestablish control in the face of instability and uncertainty.
    6. Eric Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation describes how the fast food industry has been subsidized by the government, and how this has enabled the general public to be overly exposed to unhealthy food.
    7. Jim Rogers reports in his book that the music industry has tried to hold three parties responsible for copyright infringement, but when looked at closely, the websites that facilitate file-sharing should be the ones most heavily prosecuted because if we concentrate our efforts to fine them, we can kill the problem at the root.
    8. Maria Mazziotti Gillan shows that when she became an adult, she started to appreciate the things she previously felt shame for.
    9. Obstacles may seem impossible to overcome but are surmountable because anything is possible when you work hard.
    10. The characters in Kelly Hayes-Raitt’s "Tongue-Tied," the older reporter and the young impoverished Iraqi girl, symbolize the parent-child mentality the United States has towards developing countries and this attitude that shapes our foreign policies is damaging to us and other nations, as seen in our failures in Iraq.
    11. Emmanuel experiences trials and tribulations and in the end, he did not get recognized for his accomplishments and he remained troubled due to dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
    Answer
    1. In Generation Me, Jean Twenge shows how those born in the 70s, 80s and 90s were raised with too much self-esteem and she argues that this leads to apathy, depression, loneliness and higher suicide rates. AUTHOR’S THESIS
    2. Life is short so follow you our own path and make the best of what you have. GENERAL ADVICE
    3. In Sarah Katin’s “Naked,” the narrator’s experience in a Korean bathhouse reveals that American notions of nudity are unhealthy because how American women are taught to view their own bodies produces feelings of shame, discomfort in their own skins, and it distances women from each other. FINE AS IS
    4. Margot Schilpp provides us with a declaration of her thoughts, feelings and views of the world and what she thinks about love. SUMMARIZES
    5. On the surface, in Layne Mosler’s “Cab Fare,” an American food reviewer seeks the recommendations of local cab drivers to find the best, non-touristy restaurants in Buenos Aires, but here food becomes symbolic for the fundamental nourishment people seek and their desire to reestablish control in the face of instability and uncertainty. FINE AS IS
    6. Eric Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation describes how the fast food industry has been subsidized by the government, and how this has enabled the general public to be overly exposed to unhealthy food. AUTHOR’S THESIS
    7. Jim Rogers reports in his book that the music industry has tried to hold three parties responsible for copyright infringement, but when looked at more closely, the websites that facilitate file-sharing should be the ones most heavily prosecuted because if we concentrate our efforts to fine them, we can kill the problem at the root. FINE AS IS
    8. Maria Mazziotti Gillan shows that when she became an adult, she started to appreciate the things she previously felt shame for. SUMMARIZES
    9. Obstacles may seem impossible to overcome but are surmountable because anything is possible when you work hard. GENERAL ADVICE
    10. The characters in Kelly Hayes-Raitt’s "Tongue-Tied," the older reporter and the young impoverished Iraqi girl, symbolize the parent-child mentality the United States has towards developing countries and this attitude that shapes our foreign policies is damaging to us and other nations, as seen in our failures in Iraq. FINE AS IS
    11. Emmanuel experiences trials and tribulations and in the end, he did not get recognized for his accomplishments and he remained troubled due to dealing with PTSD. SUMMARIZES

    This page titled 8.3: Text-Based Thesis Statement is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

    • Was this article helpful?