Tutor profile: Gillian E.
What is the process of writing a thesis statement?
After doing some preliminary research on your topic, pick a stance on your argument. For an essay, you can examine how an author accomplishes (or fails to accomplish) something in a novel. For a research paper, you want to look at multiple sources and find something that binds them together. Write a thesis draft that simply states your argument and a few ways you will prove it. Then, as you write the paper, continue to revisit and refine the thesis. I like to reread my introductory paragraph and thesis every time I save the document. After you conclude the paper, make sure your thesis and conclusion are in agreement.
How do you examine symbols in classic literature?
When a symbol arises in a novel, it is important to look at the denotations and connotations. That is, the literal functionality of the symbol as well as the underlying associations that may point to meaning. As the symbol recurs throughout the novel, you can examine if the associations remain the same or how the change over time. For example, in The Scarlet Letter, the letter A begins as a symbol of shame, inflicted both socially and internally by the main character Hester. As the novel evolves, however, Hester reclaims the symbol as one of strength and ability.
What is the best way to go about reading a book for class?
I like to do some background research before I even start reading. I look up the book and author online, usually skimming the summary or synopsis, so I know where it is going. Contextual clues about the author and when the book was published are also really helpful. Then I read the front and back cover of the book, as well as any introductions. As I get into the main part of the book, I like to keep a notebook to jot down ideas and thoughts, as well as questions or words I may not know to look up later (some people like to write in books but I prefer a separate notebook). If I am being quizzed on sections of the book, I make small summary notes at the end of chapters/sections. If I am looking for themes, I track those in my notebook. When I finish reading a book, I like to free write a bit in response about my opinion of the book. After I have formed my own opinion, I go read reviews and thoughts of other readers.
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