PROVE IT! How to make an argument (focus question) STAGE I Vague statement to brilliant thesis! Academic writing challenges us to dig deeper and find out what we really mean. For example: HARRY POTTER & The PHILOSOPHER’S STONE VAGUE STATEMENT Your thesis will start with a “knee jerk” emotional reaction. “Harry Potter is boring!” This will be the driving force behind your thesis, but it will not be your thesis! This is just the beginning, you will need to develop your initial statement and find out exactly what you mean. Why is it Boring? Is it because it is a typical Hollywood film? Dull Actors? Crappy Plot? Typical? Why exactly? “A typical Hollywood movie that shows us that boys can save the day and girls can stand in the background and watch?” Be a Lawyer! Make sure your case (argument) is going to make for an interesting trial. EXAMPLE 1: “Harry Potter lives a dangerous life” No one is going to pay attention to a case that can be proven by looking at the cover of the book. This thesis aims too low. EXAMPLE 2 “Harry Potter is Nazi propaganda” A thesis that aims for controversy is going to have insufficient proof. This thesis aims too high. EXAMPLE 3 “Harry Potter teaches us that women are weak”. I did notice that the male characters seem to save the day. But I would consider the major female characters to be strong. How do you define weak? You have my attention… Recap 1. Start with your vague statement. 2. Define this statement / redefine / redefine… until you come up with a thesis that you believe you can prove. 3. Ask yourself: does it make for an interesting trial? Final thesis and introductory paragraph Now I am ready to develop my introductory paragraph which includes my thesis statement and hints at the three proofs that I will elaborate on in my essay. This is where I will state my case to the jury and tell them the names of my witnesses. Developing proofs Your jury/readers are anticipating an interesting trial, but a good thesis does not guarantee a good essay. You are going to need proof to win your case. You can only call three witnesses, so they had better be good. The Proof is in the Pudding… Good academic evidence is clearly stated and supported with facts. You have to articulate to the jury how they should interpret the text. The reader shouldn’t have to guess how your ideas link to your thesis. Pulling it all together… If you have made your case properly then your conclusion won’t need to tell us anything new. Forget about calling last minute witnesses, your case is over. The purpose of the conclusion is to remind your reader what your three witnesses have already proven.