First-Year Preceptorial

Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is, by definition, “an unproved statement put forward as a premise in an argument.”  It is not a fact.  It is a claim, an arguable statement, one that you must prove with supporting evidence, one that reasonable people could disagree with.  It is like a hypothesis for an experiment.  A good thesis is specific and clearly expressed.  A problem-solving thesis sets up a problem that the writer will solve in the paper. 

Using the criteria mentioned above, rank the following thesis statements from least effective to most effective.

1.      In this essay, I will discuss the relationship between nature and culture.

2.      The “x” and the “y” are not only far more interdependent than we have previously thought, but they are, in fact, different ways of expressing the same idea.  The “x” and the “y,” I contend, are the same.

3.      In my opinion, gravity is a pretty good idea.

4.      The rise to prominence of the television has displaced the fireplace as the focal point not only of the living room, but of the family.  Television has transformed the American family from the site of meaningful, interactive communication among individuals to the site of passive, non-communicative clusters of individuals.  

5.      Crayola crayons are an important feature of American culture and have played a significant role in it.

6.      Two troubled teenagers at Columbine killed “Cassie,” the human being, for her answer “yes” to the question of whether she believed in God.  But Cassie, the person, died when the story of her “yes” reached an America eager to make meaning of a terrible tragedy.  And it was that second martyrdom, a martyrdom of abstraction, which killed her more completely than any bullet could.  As a result, Cassie has not only been mythologized, she has been canonized and she has been commodified.