Tutor profile: Gabriel G.
How do you write a good thesis?
This is perhaps the most inciting question of all time when it comes to writing academic papers. Everyone has a slightly different idea, and every professor wants something a certain way. In my opinion, the right answer will change depending on what the task at hand is. First and foremost, if you are writing for a certain class assignment, follow the instructions the professor provides. This may seem obvious, but the goal here is to get a good grade, so keep that in mind when formulating your ideas. The second aspect of this question really has 2 parts: how to come up with a good thesis, and how to write that coveted 1-2 sentences in the opening paragraph in a clear and cogent way. To answer the first, I like to remember that even the most experienced writers will vary their thesis' numerous times as they write. Sometimes the very act of starting the paper will help you organize your thoughts and reveal the thesis to you. Keep in mind that a thesis takes an idea and applies it to a text(s) in new and original ways. It is something that can be argued against that you will be providing unassailable evidence for. I like to think about it as a formula (more on this in our sessions). Make an outline based on things you know and you want to say, and cite and find the overlap. Then start writing. You may have to rework certain parts, but editing is an important part of the process anyway, and by doing this your ideas will be strongly connected. This takes us to the second part. Finalize the actual thesis statement at the very end. Knowing what you have done, and exactly how you did it, will allow you to create the most specific and pertinent statement. Remember it is your ideas and your argument that are important, and expressing them clearly and logically is the best way to support them.
Subject: Study Skills
How is a student, halfway through a semester with a notebook full of a notes and a textbook full of highlights, supposed to gather all the material and supporting evidence to write a midterm paper?
As is the case with most things in life, planning ahead will make everything easier. As a student, it can often feel like you are given a huge amount of information every class, a lot of it will be new and complicated, and just keeping up can be a struggle. But, by taking just a bit of time and looking at the big picture, overwhelming can become manageable very quickly. Something as easy as remembering that a midterm is coming, even on the first day of class, can help you prepare your thoughts and notes so that when it does come, you will be ready. Think about things like how the class is organized, what the themes are, and why certain texts are taught together or side by side. Listen to big ideas your professor touches on frequently and begin thinking about how you may adapt them to a thesis down the line. Just this little switch in your mentality will change what you notice and how you notice it, and suddenly a notebook full of notes becomes less of a chaotic assortments of facts and more like a rubric of relevant data. So how does this help you at the halfway point of your class? Well, you can take the same ideas and apply them to your notes (colored highlighters are your best friend here). What concepts appear more than once, what areas are you confident you could explain to someone else, which parts of the textbook are clear to you, how much of the previous things overlap? A midterm paper is often about connecting dots you didn't know where there. All it takes is one connection in order to see another, and pretty soon the whole picture becomes clear.
What is Modernist Literature and why is Virginia Woolf considered a Modernist writer when she was writing 100 years ago?
When attempting to understand literary periods and their specific characteristics, it often helps to think about where they fit in the overall timeline of literature. The example of Modernist Literature can often be confusing because we think of the word modern as meaning now or contemporary, and while it is debatable that we are still in a Modernist period of literature, the typical timeframe is late 19th to early 20th century. Before Modernism, literature was often very interested in how characters behave with each other and their surroundings. Authors like Virginia Woolf changed that standard by attempting to examine the internal qualities of their characters, wrestling with big ideas like self-awareness and consciousness. To put it rather simply, by being in line with much of the contemporary ideas regarding philosophy and psychology at the time, this type of inward character examination was very 'modern' and so Modernism in Literature was born.
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