Thesis, part 1

On December 18 (by midnight), you’ll submit:

  • The first three pages of your thesis, your actual thesis! As in, not *writing about your thesis*, but the actual first three pages of the thing, as you understand it so far); and
  • An annotated bibliography, listing all of the texts that are most important to your thinking about the thesis at this point.

The bibliography should include the primary texts you want to analyze and the critical or theoretical texts that will help you analyze them. You should have at least one primary text and at least two secondary texts. You might have more than that in both categories! And you could have as many as ten texts, total.

In your annotation, you will write a paragraph or so, explaining how you want to use each text: Will it provide a keyterm, for example, and if so, which one, why? Will you read the text as a primary text, and if so, which parts will you read closely, to understand what, and how/why?

As for the three pages, they are really important. You may need to do much more than three pages’ worth of writing to get them the way you like them.

This is the introduction to your thesis, so you’ll use it to:

  • Identify the central question you hope to answer in your thesis;
  • Establish your motive, showing your reader how and why your question has relevance to literary critics, more generally;
  • Describe the ballroom you hope to enter: what critics are here, and what are they saying? Where do you fit among them?
  • Establish your authority as a critic and foster your readers’ curiosity and interest in what you’re going to say.
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