From Topic to Thesis for Paper #2

After you identify your topic for Paper #2, the next step is to figure out how to move from a topic to a strong thesis statement.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say your topic is how Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” connects to New York City’s yellow cab drivers and the increase in driver suicides.

This is still just a topic.  You need to identify a specific point of view or angle on this topic so that you don’t wind up writing a paper that is very broad.  A strong thesis statement leads to a  strong paper.

Here are three examples of thesis statements stemming from this topic.  Which one is the strongest?

In Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing” the speaker writes about jobs. This connects to contemporary taxi drivers.

In Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing,” the speaker writes about jobs that help men earn a good living. This is an economic issue that connects to New York City’s yellow cab drivers.

In Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing,” he writes about jobs that were common in the nineteenth century but they aren’t common now.  This connects to the recent news stories about yellow cab drivers in New York City taking their own lives because they can’t earn a decent living, due to competition from apps like Uber and Lyft.

Which of these will lead to the strongest paper and why?

Aim to be very specific as you develop your thesis.  I will give you feedback as quickly as possible as to whether your topic (poem + specific news even or  poem + specific person in the news) is approved, and then I’ll give you additional feedback on how to improve your thesis as we move forward.





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