Tutor profile: Eileen H.
How do I write a strong thesis statement?
First and foremost, a thesis statement should be a statement, not a question. A strong thesis statement should incorporate the topic of your paper, your position on the topic, and an outline of the evidence you will present or your reasons for taking that position. Keep your thesis statement clear and focused and try to avoid vague language. It may help to think of the thesis statement as a map for your reader that will help guide them through your paper. Don't worry too much about making your thesis statement perfect before you start writing the body of your paper--as your ideas evolve, so may your thesis, and that is perfectly okay.
Subject: Library and Information Science
What is the difference between a primary and a secondary source?
A primary source is original material that provides a firsthand account or evidence of an event, topic, or person/group. Examples of primary sources include, but are not limited to letters, diaries, maps, photographs, interviews, and/or artifacts. A secondary source is material that was created by someone who did not experience an event firsthand, and often provides an analysis, interpretation, or commentary on the event, topic, or person/group. Depending on the angle of your research, a secondary source could also be considered a primary source, and vice versa. For example, an article on Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" in a twentieth-century literary journal would likely be considered a secondary source; however, that same article could serve a primary source if you are researching the history of Austen criticism in the twentieth century.
What is the literary canon?
Discussions about the literary canon usually refer specifically to the Western canon, by which we mean those works widely considered historically and artistically important by literary scholars of European and American literature. It is important to remember that the canon is not static, nor is it universal; the definition and parameters of what is considered canonical are constantly changing, and there is always disagreement. For example, before the novel became popular in the eighteenth century, the literary canon largely consisted of works that fell into the categories of poetry or drama. However, in the twentieth century, the canon was dominated by novels and the work of authors such as William Shakespeare, John Milton, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens. This often resulted in the exclusion of many other important authors and offered a very narrow view of literary history on classroom syllabi. In the twenty-first century, scholars are now trying to expand discussions about what constitutes a literary canon, specifically working to incorporate the work of under-represented authors, including women and non-binary authors, authors of color, and non-Western authors. Some scholars take this one step further and argue for abolishing the idea of the literary canon as a whole. What is considered canonical at any given time is born out of that particular cultural moment. However you view the literary canon, it is important to remember that canonicity is an arbitrary designation and is not a judgment on the value, importance, or quality of a work. The best way to make that judgment is to read widely across different viewpoints and genres and decide for yourself!
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