Tutor profile: Megan Q.
What does a good thesis statement include?
A good thesis statement tells the reader what the writer's evidence, analysis, and motive are. What do these terms mean? The evidence is the outside source that the writer examines. So, for example, let's say that you are writing a thesis about an important and repeated work (a key word) in Virginia Woolf's essay "Women and Fiction." The evidence in your thesis will most likely be that key word, and the reader will also need to know where the key word is coming from (Virginia Woolf's "Women and Fiction"). The analysis part of your thesis addresses how you interpret your evidence. What can you see by looking at how Woolf repeats the word "nothing" when she refers to our historical records of women's lives? Finally, your motive shows why your analysis is important. You do this by connecting the points you make in your analysis to larger concerns, like Woolf's discussion of the role of gender or class in writing.
Is "classic" literature better than genre fiction such as mysteries, science-fiction, or fantasy?
This question has generated spirited debate, generating passionate articles on the pages of The New Yorker and TIME. The truth is that these categories--"classic" or literary fiction and genre fiction--overlap much more than these separate terms, and sections in the bookstore, imply. Think, for example, of Mary Shelley's enduringly popular novel Frankenstein. It has the status of a "classic" and, at the same time, it is a work of science-fiction. We might also consider moves by current writers such as Carmen Maria Machado to combine the quality of prose we typically associate with "literary" fiction and the imaginary world that we link to genre fiction.
Are Jane Austen's novels romantic?
Yes and no. For example, the ending of Pride and Prejudice is almost pure wish fulfillment. The girl gets the guy, who turns out to be not only handsome and rich, but also good. But a closer reading shows us a practical side that might conflict with our visions of fairytale romance. After all, the heroine Elizabeth Bennet starts to fall for the hero Mr. Darcy when she sees his gorgeous and very lucrative estate. For this reason, the poet W.H. Auden writes that Austen exposes for us "the amorous effects of brass."
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