Hi Class,

I know how hard this type of research paper can be. It is important to realize that it takes considerable time and effort to construct the first page. Please note that the main goal is to control the evidence and not let it overwhelm your ideas on the story and ethics.


Thesis and Method Sample 1: Notice how the peer review articles are mentioned in the method, but not the thesis:

While the obvious choice is to pursue virtue ethics in Borges’s “The Captive,” a less well-known choice is Global Ethics. The reason that Global Ethics is more rewarding is because the setting and context of the story point to Spanish colonization of Argentina in the late 1700s and that sets up the double kidnapping in the story. In order to explore Global Ethics, I will first address the question of who is to blame in the two kidnapping scenes in terms of Global Ethics using the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Second, I will use the ideas of Ed Folsom and Barbara Eckstein (student should provide article/chapter titles) to discuss storytelling, stereotypes, and violence in colonial fiction (as these ideas relate to the story’s ethics). Lastly, I will question the mysterious narrator who seems to come alive in the story’s conclusion.


Thesis and Method Sample 2: Notice how the peer review articles do battle against each other—but still serve the student’s argument about utilitarian ethics:

Borges’s “The Captive” is about the utility of war to shape people’s behavior. Therefore, while the boy in the story seems to have a choice to return to the forest, I believe he does not; he is really a “captive” to the idea of utilitarian ethics. In order to prove this I will first describe the first kidnapping scene and the knife scene in terms of our class handout on ethics. Second, I will use Ed Folsom’s article “The Worst Colonial Stories are Sometimes the Best” and Barbara Eckstein’s article “Folsom’s Ideas of Colonial Literature Are Wrong” to compare the idea of colonial choice. These two literary critics do not mention Borges’s story, but they do help me to understand utilitarian ethics in the 1700s. Lastly, I will hypothesize that the narrator is actually a character in the story.


Thesis and Method Sample 3: Notice how the peer review articles do battle against each other—this time within the thesis. But they are still serving the student:

This essay highlights an argument between two literary critics in terms of colonial violence that can be applied to my favorite short story. While these articles are not focused on Borges’s story “The Captive,” they do help me to understand the ethics of colonization and therefore they form the cornerstone of my thesis which is to prove that “The Captive” highlights how colonization is connected to utilitarian ethics more than Deontology (Duty) ethics. Specifically, on one hand, Ed Folsom’s article “The Worst Colonial Stories are Sometimes the Best” reveals the ethics of colonial power, and on the other hand, Barbara Eckstein’s article “Folsom’s Ideas of Colonial Literature Are Wrong” reveals the ethics of repressed indigenous peoples. In order to show how their argument help me make mine, I will first describe how the colonial powers shape the boy into a man and lead each side to think mainly of end results (utilitarian ethics). With utilitarian ethics in place, I will then describe the competing ideas of colonial choice put forward by Folsom and Eckstein. Then, with their argument of colonial choice in place, I can examine the colonial choices that each side makes in the battle to control the boy. Ultimately, the story is an unhappy one, one that reveals how focusing on end results can be bad for individuals caught between powerful forces.


Please note: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO INCLUDE TWO PEER REVIEW ARTICLES “DOING BATTLE” IN YOUR THESIS AND/OR METHOD. You can merely mention one article–or none. It depends upon your main goals.