Can You Use That In a Sentence..?

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"Although single words can name ideas, we must put these words into operation in sentences, or assertions before they can advance our understanding."

-- Roberts, Chapter 7, p. 119


'Assertion' is just a fancy word for sentence, yet this fancy term is extremely important for anyone who wants to write a decent paper (particularly a precise thesis statement). Roberts says that "you might state that an idea in Chekhov's "The Bear" is 'love,' but it would be difficult to discuss anything more unless you make an assertion promising such an argument, such as "This play demonstrates the idea that love is irrational and irresistible" (119). While Roberts' assertion about "love" in "The Bear" will not cut it as a thesis, it's well on its way. You have to have clear thoughts before you develop a thesis. If I wanted to turn Roberts' assertion into a thesis, I'd have to make a statement that identifies even more fully with the play in question. e.g) The Bear by Chekhov demonstrates that, while love is irrational and irresistible, (main claim).  

10 Comments

Brooke Kuehn said:

This is probably my least favorite part of writing a paper, coming up with a debatable thesis. I always research a million ideas before coming across the right one. It is such a pain, but well worth it in the end. If only Roberts could give us some tips on that... unfortunately, i think it just something you learn through practice.

Jessica Orlowski said:

Brooke,

I definately agree with you. Roberts doesn't divulge too much on this, but under the "list of things we're having trouble with," we seem to be having a lot of mishaps with theses (still dislike that word). Most of the time, we improve with practice, but the end does not seem near in my case...

Brooke Kuehn said:

Same here... Unfortunately, i feel like it is going to take a lot more practice and literature classes before i actually can say thinking up a debatable thesis is not a stressful process. How about that for pessimism?

Kayla Lesko said:

*shudder* Writing a thesis IS NOT fun. Especially when you think it's a good one and then it turns out it's not. Oh well, guess that's the only way to learn.

Brooke Kuehn said:

Oh and i hate that word too. It makes me think of the word feces. Ick disgusting!

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Brooke- Hah... there's a difference between oessimism and reality. I'm beginning to realize the fact that practice does make (almost perfect). I think that it would be helpful if we all posted our methods of formulating theses.

For me, I first close read the work in question. Then, of the most prevalent themes, I choose one. What do you do?

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Yes, Kayla- if there were only a way to prevent the epic failure. What do you do to try and write a thesis?

Brooke Kuehn said:

My method takes forever, but i havent come up with anything better yet. First i think about the different thoughts that the pieces raised and then i start researching those thoughts in more depth. I usually end up going through at least 10 different ideas before coming across one that actually works. I don't suggest this method. It entails a LOT of research and time.

I usually follow the same process, Brooke, so I know what you mean about how much work it takes. I second your suggestion of avoiding that method. It's horrible.

Jess, after you choose a theme, where do you go from there? How do you go from theme to thesis?

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

Well, after I choose the theme of a work, I write down random questions about the work and see how the characters have changed. Usually, I try to think about a character and his or her motivations. I hoped that helped. It's kind of hard to explain...

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