Tutor profile: Emily K.
What is the purpose of a thesis statement in an essay, and what elements should it contain?
A thesis statement controls a piece of writing and contains the main points that the writer will address in the piece. Without a well-crafted thesis statement, an essay will be unclear and aimless because the writer won't have a clear blueprint for his or her ideas; therefore, it is the most crucial sentence in the entire essay. There are three parts to a basic thesis statement. It should contain the topic, the author's opinion about the topic, and the supporting reasons that will be addressed in the essay. As a writer becomes a more sophisticated in crafting essays, he or she may choose to alter this format, but it is an excellent starting place for struggling or beginning writers.
Why should we consider the historical context of a piece of literature?
Viewing a piece through the historical and cultural lens of the author enables us to more accurately understand the content and themes embedded in the work. Just as each of us is subconsciously shaped by the culture around us so, too, are the authors whose works we study. These societal values and norms are present in their writing even when specific historical events are not referenced. Also, when we look at the text from the vantage point of the writer, we gain a deeper understanding.
How can you determine an author's bias and why is it important to consider bias?
In order to determine an author's bias, look for clues in the text that show strong emotions attached to the subject being discussed. Often, authors use emotive language or fallacies that can reveal inherent bias. For example, if we were reading an article about dandelions and the author referred to them as "plants," the writing would be neutral. However, if the author substituted "weeds" or "flowers" to refer to the same organism, it would reveal a negative or positive bias, respectively. Considering bias in the things that we read is important because it ensures that we are thinking deeply about the author's message. We will be more circumspect in drawing conclusions about what the author is asserting. Furthermore, when you consider the bias present in others' arguments, you will become more skillful at crafting your own to either remain neutral or achieve a specific, desired outcome.
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