Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Write a Multi-paragraph Essay

Argument Organizer:

What's a theme? How is it supported (motifs, symbols, imagery)?

Examples of potential themes - what is Cisneros suggesting about these topics?

What could you argue - make a claim - about the following:

Loss of Innocence - Coming of Age

Individual Identity and Communal Loyalty 

Estrangement and Loss

Alienation and Discplacement 

Assimilation versus Cultural Traditions 

Power of... Love/Language/Community/Family/Friendship

Escape and Return

Foreignness and Otherness

The Home vs. a House

Womanhood: Sexuality and Femininity

Dreams, Hopes, and Fears

Lure of Romance

Independence/Autonomy and Dependence/Oppression

Gender Roles: Sexual Inequality and Patriarchy

Religion and Superstition 

What's a good introduction? Tell us what you're going to argue.

What's a thesis? A persuasive argument (not a topic sentence). 

What's evidence? Textual support - specific examples!

What's a counterargument? Acknowledge your cases weakness - and make it a persuasive strength

What's a convincing conclusion? Some writing advice from Harvard, especially on what NOT to do: 

  • Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
  • Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
  • Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."

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