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Laura Heffernan on Theses

Thesis Worksheet

by Laura Heffernan

(adapted from Michael Barsanti's "Writing a Thesis" and Erik Simpson's "Five Ways of Looking at a Thesis")


Your thesis statement SHOULD:

1.  rule out most of the material of a text, focusing tight enough to make a specific claim.

2.  be a little strange.  In other words, it should assert something that seems wrong or odd to begin.  You will then make sense of it as you move through the paper.

3.  be able to fit into this structure:
 By looking at ___________, we can see ______________, which most readers don't see; this is important because _______________.

Your thesis SHOULD NOT:

1.  Make a claim that can be applied to other texts.  If you can insert the title of another novel or film in your thesis and it is still true, your thesis is too general.

2.  Invoke or rephrase a cliché.

3.  Make any claim about Society, The History of Mankind, People Since the Beginning of Time, All the People of the World, Everyone Who Ever Lived, etc.

4.  Express judgments about the characters in the texts as though they are human beings that exist outside the text.  (You must show awareness that the character is a carefully constructed representation inside the text)

Below, write your own versions of BAD THESIS STATEMENTS numbers 1, 2, 3, & 4 to get them completely out of your system.  Use either the book or film of Fight Club as your text.





Finally, your Fight Club THESIS STATEMENT for paper #1: