POSSIBLE TOPICS WORTH EXPLORING:
For each topic, consider avenues of approach
Here are a few elements you may wish to consider as you contemplate your response
- whether you think biological or social and cultural factors are more important in shaping ____________;
- the degree to which ________________ and expectations have changed in your culture over the last thirty or forty years;
- whether females or males are more restricted by conventional _______________;
- the ways in which you have been influenced, positively and negatively, by (traditional) ______________ and expectations;
- whether race plays a part in how we _______________
Additional elements you may wish to consider
- rites of passage for girls/women or for boys/men
- women or homosexual or transsexuals in the military
- the sports or toy industry
- anorexia and other eating disorders
- the body-image trade (diets, exercise fads, cosmetics, fragrance, fashion)
- a particular product of the mass media—for example, a TV program, film, magazine advertisement, music video, or children’s picture book
- Can you offer more elements?
- 2400 words minimum (8-10 pages) not including Works Cited page
- MLA format guidelines, including double-spacing, in-text citations, and a Works Cited page
- Well-developed introductory paragraph with a clear and debatable thesis statement
- Body paragraphs that follow the TEEAMS format
- A conclusion paragraph that moves beyond the paper’s argument and introduces the bigger question/issue at stake (the next argument your current argument raises)
- Utilize at least six sources, four of which may be from class readings
- Purposefully incorporate at least five key vocabulary words from the semester, bolding each for easy identification
How to begin the thinking/writing process
TAKING A STANCE
Taking a stance on your topic at this point in the writing process is essential. Luckily, this part is relatively easy becasuse it requires that you fill in the blank in the prompt and then answer the question it asks. Essentially, then, taking a stance involves developing a tentative thesis statement and then “trying on” different perspectives within that framework.
DEVELOPING A TENTATIVE THESIS STATEMENT
To begin this process, read as many different perspectives on your position as you can find. As you read, settle on what you think your stance will be. Then answer the following questions:
- What specific question will your essay answer? What is your response to this question? (This is your tentative thesis.)
- What support (reasons) have you found for your thesis?
- What evidence have you found for your support/reasons (facts, statistics, statements from authorities, personal stories, and other credible examples)?
- How much background information do your readers need to understand your topic and thesis? (for your introductory paragraph/body paragraphs)
- If readers were to disagree with your thesis or the validity of your support, what would they say? How would you address their concerns (what would you say to them)?
Developing a tentative thesis now will help you take a stand on the issue about which you have chosen to write. Your thesis should be a complete sentence that includes your topic and your opinion on that topic. It can be revised several times but will ultimately keep your writing on track.
Trying on Words, Perspectives, and Ideas
Before you actually write a draft, identify two perspectives that would disagree with your stand on the issue. Take on their perspectives and draft a quickwrite from each of their stances.
No rigid formula will cover all of the writing you’re asked to do, but almost all writing has a beginning, middle, and end—even lab reports and journal articles have standard formats. The following items are traditional parts of all essays:
- The introduction (usually one or two paragraphs), which introduces the argument. Although “hooks” that grab the reader’s attention are overrated, I find a general-to-specific introduction, one whose first sentence is a debatable claim, works as a powerful hook. Conclude your introduction with your thesis statement or road map for the reader;
- The body (as many paragraphs as necessary), which supports the thesis statement;
- Each body paragraph should follow the TEEAMS construct and develop a single point around a single topic.
- A counterargument paragraph that presents and rebuts a potential counterargument to your main argument.
- Alternatively, you may decide to address potential counterarguments throughout your body paragraphs by weaving them into your arguments in each body paragraph.
- The conclusion (usually only one paragraph) restates the thesis as a way to briefly summarize the main argument and explain the significance of the argument. More importantly, the conclusion introduces the bigger picture, the bigger argument; that is, once you’ve supported your argument, what question does the conclusion of your argument raise? How is that question the beginning of the next argument on the topic of your issue?
Some additional hints to help you organize your thoughts
Include the following in your introductory paragraph:
- An opening claim or hook, which grabs your audience
- Background information the audience may need
- Reasons to help lead to and substantiate your thesis statement
- A thesis statement. Note: The thesis statement states the topic of the essay and the writer’s position on that topic. Once you’ve written your paper, you may choose to sharpen or narrow your thesis statement
The body of an essay should consist of the following parts:
- Paragraphs that present support (reasons) for the thesis statement, usually in topic sentences followed with evidence.
- Paragraphs that include different points of view or address counter-arguments.
- Paragraphs or sentences in which you address those points of view by doing the following:
- Refuting them
- Acknowledging them but showing how your argument is better
- Granting them but showing they are irrelevant
- Evidence that you have considered the values, beliefs, and assumptions of the audience; your own values, beliefs, and assumptions; and some common ground that appeals to more diverse perspectives.
The final paragraph (or paragraphs) should consider the following:
- A brief review of the argument that supports your thesis
- The significance of the argument—the “so what?” factor; “why should anybody care?”
- The bigger argument ahead.
 Because modern society seems to rely on media for definition and representation, I use “media” instead of “modern society” (also because it opens up more focused possibilities).
 Your focus should connect with the topics and issues we’ve been covering in class.
 Sometimes it helps focus an argument when you are responding to something more specific (an event, a trend, commercial, political figure, etc.)
 Remember, our two books contain extensive bibliographies you could use to find sources
 We will go over how to write strong introductory paragraphs in class.
 We will do a thesis development workshop in class.
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