Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Topic: The Limitations of the Simple Thesis

Purpose of this blog: Reviews of interesting ideas in recent English education journals.

Title: “Going beyond the Thesis.” AC Smith. English Journal (July 2010), 97-99.

Summary: When you read Walden or Dr. King’s speech, “I Have A Dream,” it becomes clear that their theses cannot be reduced to a simple statement. You have to know the entire book, or, in the case of Dr. King, the entire speech, in order to be able to devise the thesis.

Comment: I can’t argue with the author’s thesis. What he says is true. No book or even essay that is important to read is easily summed up in a simple thesis as we teach our student-writers to use. And yet, if you are going to sell an agent or an editor in publishing your book or article, you had damn well better reduce the contents to one sentence.

As in the case of the five-paragraph essay, you begin with the simple and the writers grow as they develop their writing. The five-paragraph essay and the simple thesis provide a beginning, not the end of writing. I must admit, too many teachers think of the five-paragraph essay and its thesis as the end and not the beginning of writing instruction. RayS.

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