Tutor profile: Jess P.
What is a thesis statement in an argumentative essay? How do I incorporate one into my paper?
A thesis statement is an important component of an argumentative essay which serves to state the main argument or claim of the paper. It usually appears at the end of the introduction and makes a claim that is supported by various pieces of evidence presented in the body of the essay. In a typical 5 paragraph essay, the thesis statement might have three main points or prongs. The body of the essay is then made up of three paragraphs, each one working to prove one of those three points. For example, if writing a simple argumentative essay about why someone should try a vegetarian diet, your thesis statement might appear at the end of your introduction and look something like this: "Trying a vegetarian diet is a worthwhile pursuit because it is cost effective, healthy, and convenient." Then, in the body of the essay, you would dedicate a paragraph to proving each one of the three claims made in this thesis statement. The first body paragraph might use economical or financial data from a relevant and credible source to support the claim that vegetarian diets are cost effective. The next paragraph might use information from a health and fitness journal to show how vegetarian diets have been proven to be good for the body. Then, the third body paragraph might give examples about why a vegetarian diet is convenient, perhaps explaining that vegetarian dishes are simpler to prepare than meals with meat or that vegetarian meals are easy to find in many restaurants. Finally, the conclusion paragraph should reference the thesis again, but this time, your goal is to connect the claim with the various pieces of evidence presented in the body to show how your argument comes together as a whole. This is your last opportunity to leave an impression on the reader, so it is important to end on a clear, logical expression of your claim in order to maximize your ability to persuade them to agree with your argument.
What is a close reading? How should I approach a close reading assignment?
Close reading is an activity in literature or other media studies in which you analyze a text in depth in order to explore its meaning. You can close read a specific section, passage, or chapter of a text, or you can close read the text as a whole. Your goal is to notice, interpret, and explain or argue how an author achieves a specific goal, shares a particular message, or creates a certain effect through their writing whether intentionally or unintentionally. Basically, you're arguing that the author of the text is accomplishing a specific thing and you're using information from the text itself as evidence to help you make your point. One way to approach close reading is to break it down into 3 steps or parts: observing, interpreting, and analyzing. Observing: While reading the text in question, you might begin by annotating or taking notes on the text. You could highlight key words or phrases, mark patterns that you notice, or write down questions or comments associated with particular parts of the text. Make note of anything that stands out as interesting, confusing, or striking in some way. For example, if you're reading a passage which describes a storm, you might underline adjectives or metaphors that the author uses to describe what it looks, sounds, and feels like. Interpreting: Next, you might begin to notice patterns or draw connections between the observations that you've made. For example, returning to the hypothetical storm passage, you might look over the adjectives the author uses and consider why they choose these particular words and what effect these choices create in the text. Does the author describe the storm as refreshing, cleansing, invigorating, and comforting? Or does the author describe the storm as thunderous, monstrous, threatening, and fearsome? What is the difference in effect between these two scenarios? How are readers supposed to feel about the storm in each instance? Analyzing: In this step, you can assemble your observations and interpretations and use them as evidence in your argument about what the author has accomplished in the text. When writing a close reading essay, your thesis statement might, for example, state an effect that the author creates through the use of certain sensory descriptors throughout the text. Then, in the body of the essay, you can use examples from the text to support this argument. You should use both direct quotes and paraphrased information to demonstrate specific places where the author creates a certain effect, makes an argument about something, or otherwise shapes the text in light of a specific goal. In this way, you're showing that you have noticed patterns or key choices in the text, interpreted how they're functioning, and can explain the impact of these details in the text or passage as a whole.
What is MLA format for an essay? When should I use it and how do I use it correctly?
MLA format is a set of style and citation guidelines created by the Modern Language Association. It provides rules for what your essay should look like and how you should credit information that you take from outside sources in order to avoid plagiarism. Other common style guides include APA and Chicago, but MLA is most commonly used in the humanities, especially in literature studies. There are three main components to MLA style: layout, in-text citations, and the works cited page. Layout: An essay that requires MLA format should have 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced lines, 1 inch margins, and indented paragraphs. It doesn't need a title page, but it should have a header in the top left corner of the first page with each of the following on separate lines: your name, your instructor's name, your course title, and the assignment date. Additionally, each page should display your last name and the page number in the top right corner. In-Text Citations: In-text citations are used whenever you use information in your essay that you got from an outside source. This includes both primary and secondary sources and it also includes both direct quotes and paraphrased information. Right after the quote or paraphrased information but before the sentence's punctuation, include the author's last name (or the title if the author is unknown) and the page number of the source. For example, a sentence with an in-text citation might look like this: According to recent research, "quotation," (Author 29). Works Cited Page: Finally, the Works Cited page begins on a new page at the end of your essay and includes an entry for each source used in your work. The title "Works Cited" is centered at the top of the page. Entries are listed in alphabetical order by each author's last name (or the title of the source if the author is unknown), and every line of each entry besides the first line should be indented. The information included in each entry depends on what kind of source it corresponds to. For example, an entry for a book chapter will look a bit different from an entry for an online journal article. In general, each source should include the author's name, the title of the text, the title of the source/container, the version number or edition, the publisher, the date of publication, and the URL or DOI of the source. Purdue's Online Writing Lab is a great resource for additional information and help with specific scenarios!
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