Final Paper Topics
NOTE: If you are choosing option 2, run your thesis ideas by me on the “Ask the Instructor” board, or via email ASAP. It may take a bit of back-and-forth to come to a thesis we are both happy with.
I do not want you to get going on a paper that I later need to veto!
We’ve got some options for the final 8-12 page paper. Let’s go over them:
Significantly revise and lengthen Essay 1, 2, or 3. This would be a great choice for someone who has some fresh ideas to expand on, or someone who wants to re-do a paper that didn’t quite work.
Caution: Do not choose this if you plan to keep the original paper in tact and just add some pages of filler or “clutter.” You would need to make changes to the original (more than just moving around a comma or two), and have an exciting new direction to take.
Come up with your own topic and “working” thesis (meaning it could change as you write). This would be a good option for someone who has some background knowledge in a topic, is excited to explore a particular, arguable train of thought, and believes the topic would be of interest to most readers.
WORKABLE TOPIC: Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ” lengthening” of adolescence. More young people are staying home with their parents; some sociologists are arguing that teenage-hood is now essentially through the early thirties.
Why is this workable? I’d love to explore this. I can think of a way to focus it; particularly, I’d like to go into our culture’s changing views of masculinity and gender roles as they pertain to this extended childhood. I feel I could work with this because I have loads of 20-30-somethings to skim for information, I know I could find articles on it, I’m curious about it, and my audience probably cares (or I could get them to). After all, we all live in this culture, and we all have to deal with gender roles (no matter our lifestyles).
UNWORKABLE TOPIC: I am very interested in (and dismayed by) the Gulf Oil Spill. Particularly, I would like to know more about the conservation efforts focusing on cleaning animals and releasing them away from the spill. Some ornithologists believe (and have research to back it), that cleaning a bird with dish soap does nothing more than prolong animals’ suffering. All of the oil and its damage can’t be so easily cleaned, so the argument goes, and if an animal is coated in oil, that animal has likely ingested quite a bit of it (either in an attempt to preen or while eating). I find it fascinating (and again, dismaying) that these well-intentioned conservationists could possibly be drawing out and intensifying an already tragic situation. HOWEVER, I could not/would not write on this. On a personal note, I believe I would find it too upsetting to present a well-written paper. This is not true for all writers, but I know myself well enough to know that. Additionally, I know next to nothing about ornithology or marine biology. I know nothing about the chemical composition and attributes of crude oil. In fact, the closest I’ve gotten to the Gulf Coast was Dallas, Texas.
Why is this unworkable? At best, I would end up with a “quilt.” I use that term to refer to the kind of paper we all likely wrote in junior high (maybe in high school). The vast majority of the paper was summary, paraphrasing, and quotes from books, articles, documentaries, and so on. All we had to do was stitch it together with a few comments and transitions. The quilt won’t fly in 120. If I had to give a ratio, I’d offer 75/25 as a guideline. The majority should be your thoughts, ideas, and conclusions. Around 25% of the paper should be coming from sources. The purpose of integrating academic sources is to bolster your own views-to back you up and enhance your ethos (credibility and trustworthiness). It is not to do the work for you.
NOTE: Run your thesis ideas by me on the “Ask the Instructor” board, or via email ASAP. I do not want you to get going on a paper that I later need to veto!
First answer the following questions about your topic:
1. What general topic do you want to write about?
2. Can you narrow the topic to a more specific aspect of the subject?
3. Can you make an arguable assertion about the subject you?ve chosen? (Someone might disagree or not see it your way.)
4. Where do you stand on this subject?
5. Condense your answers to the above questions into one positional thesis statement:
Now examine your thesis and check it against these points:
1. Does it express your stand on the issue? How?
2. Does it prompt discussion? How?
3. Have you clearly expressed just one idea, or have you made clear the relationships among the ideas in your thesis statement? How?
4. Is the language of your thesis specific?
5. How does your thesis engage your reader?
6. Does your thesis statement suggest WHY you take the stance you do? How?
please do option 2 and choose a topic
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