Tutor profile: Gillian D.
What are some tips for structuring a clear, coherent, academic essay?
The first tip for a successful essay is to create some sort of rough outline, even if it's just in your head. (If you just start writing and seeing where you end up, you will most likely get a rambling essay; this is deadly for a coherent, point-driven essay.) Typically, an essay will introduce you to what it is going to talk about in the first paragraph. Hopefully at the end of the first paragraph, the reader will find the thesis statement, which is the guiding principle for the rest of the paper. Next, the essay will discuss two to five points that back up the paper. Make sure that each point is well researched and thoroughly discussed. Typically, you can structure each argument so that the weakest arguments are in the middle, and the strongest arguments are first and last (some argue that it's best to leave your reader with the strongest point as the last point, so that s/he can walk away with the best impression possible of your paper). As you may know, ending with a conclusion is an important way to close out your paper. The conclusion should be more than a simple restatement of your thesis. Hopefully, your conclusion will demonstrate that your argument or thesis has been proven, and why. Do not try to bring in new topics in your conclusion, as this just seems poorly organized and confusing. In addition to this, you make think that your well crafted argument will be enough to make your essay look professional, but this isn't necessarily true. I cannot stress how important it is to read over your paper before submitting it. This will help you catch clunky or confusing sentences or paragraphs that don't make sense the way you want them to. Pay extra attention to correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and use a classic font like Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond, or Book Antiqua. You may care deeply about your paper, but sloppy editing will have the reader (or the grader!) think that you don't.
How did Shakespeare's sonnets influence poetry as a whole?
Scholars believe that Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets and 37 plays, and his writing has been studied and appreciated for hundreds of years. In fact, he even gave us the form of the Shakespearean sonnet, which was his trademark variation on the sonnet. Shakespeare famously wrote his in iambic pentameter. An iamb tells us what type of meter or unit was used; an iamb is an unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable put together, like "attain" or "describe" (you can notice how, in these two words, the stress is on the second syllable). "Penta" means "five": there are five iambs per line of the poem. So, from the term "iambic pentameter", we know that each line of a Shakespearean sonnet should have five units of unstressed/stressed syllables. A Shakespearean sonnet has 14 lines, and the rhyme scheme is very specific. Typically, it looks like ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG, though sometimes that can change. However, the last two words of the last two lines should always rhyme, forming what is called a couplet. As you can see from the rhyme scheme above, the sonnet is organized into three quatrains and the couplet at the end. In a Shakespearean sonnet, each quatrain is supposed to have a theme, but there is also supposed to be a "volta", or a turn, that occurs somewhere in the sonnet, usually around the ninth line. The "volta" is where the sonnet changes the direction of its themes. In America, the Shakespearean sonnet is the one we study the most in schools and universities. Most scholars agree that there are three types of sonnets: the Petrarchan sonnet, the Shakespearean sonnet, and the Spenserian sonnet. We can thank Shakespeare for popularizing his variation on the sonnet because he had clout and notoriety as a playwright.
How can news shape society's construction of reality?
Society, as a whole, can learn a lot from studying the way that news is reported. In today's age, we are consuming information from all types of media: there's traditional print newspapers, those newspapers' websites, tons of small news venues, social media, memes, and an increasing number of obviously partisan websites/online news publishers. Each article is written with a type of bias, and it's important to be able to deconstruct the bias to identify the main information that's being disseminated. This bias is included in what the news chooses to report and why. There are obvious examples; we can look to how the American media reported the French bombings much differently than the bombings that occurred in Lebanon. We can see the different ways that right-wing news and left-wing media covers issues they might disagree on, like gun violence and gun control. When we consume the media, we always must ask ourselves: why is our attention being directed here? What is this piece trying to tell us? Is this article attempting to persuade me and my worldview? How did I previously feel about this topic, and how do I feel now?
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