The Age of Enlightenment

How to write an analytical essay for this class:

Acceptable Sources for Information

For this course, you must restrict your use of resources to material available only from the following:
•The textbook for this course
•Resources available online through the Stafford Library
•Online resources that are readily available for public access

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Essays citing intellectual material derived from sources that are not readily available will be returned to the student with a zero grade for the assignment that cannot be made up.

Remember that all intellectual material borrowed in whole or in part from other work must be correctly quoted and cited. See the Plagiarism Tutorial for more information on this topic.

Writing your Essay

The Thesis Paragraph

Any paper that you write for this (or any other course) must begin with a thesis paragraph. A thesis paragraph does not raise issues to be dealt with in the paper but resolves them right at the outset — the rest of the essay serves to prove that your thesis is correct. As such, a thesis paragraph is more than an introduction to your topic — it should state both what your argument is and why you are maintaining it.

In order to give you some idea of what a thesis paragraph is, let me explain what it is NOT: It is NOT an “introduction.” It does NOT give “background” information. Rather, it should present your argument in a nutshell. You always want to start by orienting your reader to your argument, for if your reader does not understand the point you want to prove, s/he will not be able to follow the proof.

Length and Organization of the Body

Keep your essay to around 500 words in length. It is better to write a well-organized 500-word essay than a poorly-organized 1,000 word essay. Quality counts more than quantity. Needless to say, you cannot write a quality paper in a single sitting. It will be necessary for you to write a rough draft first, then reorganize and rewrite it at least once, and probably more than once. For example, you might not be able to write a clear thesis paragraph until you have drafted the paper. (Of course, you will start your draft with what you think is your thesis. But as you write your essay, you may discover that you are proving a different thesis, in which case you will reformulate your thesis paragraph when you rewrite the paper.) NOTE THAT REWRITING ENTAILS MORE THAN SIMPLY CHECKING FOR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR ERRORS. Rather, it entails asking yourself what each paragraph is about and whether it is linked to the paragraphs on either side of it. In other words: REWRITING ENTAILS REORGANIZING IN ORDER TO CLARIFY BOTH YOUR THESIS AND YOUR PROOF OF IT.

Remember that you need to prove your thesis in a systematic, step-by-step, logical fashion. One trick you might employ (though you do not have to) is to make the structure of the essay mirror the structure of the thesis paragraph, dealing with issues in the body of the paper in the same order in which you raise them in the thesis. Whatever organization you choose, remember that the key to a logical proof is presenting the reader with a chain of reasoning.

Also note that in a logical proof, each paragraph is a separate link in a chain of reasoning. It is thus about one idea and one idea only. Hence this paragraph — the one you are currently reading — is distinct from the previous one, because this one deals with the nature of paragraphs in general, whereas the previous paragraph dealt with the linkages between them.

Avoid the Overuse of Quotations

In rare cases, a short quotation from another writer can drive home a point in your argument, but in general I expect you to write your essays in your own words. If your essay contains more than two short quotations (three to five words in length) your score will be penalized. If you do include a quotation, be sure to give me in parentheses the source and page number or web link from which you got it.

Writing an Effective Conclusion

You should not end your essay abruptly, nor should you allow it to trail off into the uncharted unknown. Rather, keep your essay on track by ending it with a strong, effective conclusion that ties together the ideas that you discuss in the body of your essay and shows how they form a cohesive view of the essay’s topic. To do this you will want to remind the reader of the most important ideas you expressed in the body of the essay and why they are significant.

Some pitfalls to avoid when writing your conclusion are:
•Introducing new facts or information that was not discussed in the body of the essay
◦If it is important to your argument, then include it in the body of your essay. If not, leave it out.
•Repeating word-for-word the main points of the essay
•Conclusions that are too general or vague
◦Be specific in the conclusions that you want the reader to take away from reading your work

Formatting your Essay
•Do not include a cover page.
•Your text alignment must be left-justified with 1″ margins all around.
•Your font must be 12 point type
•Your essay must be double-line spaced.
•Your name, course number and session must appear at the top left corner of the first page of your essay like this:

Lucy Bell

History 102

January Session 2014-15
•Separate paragraphs by indenting the first line of each paragraph or by adding an additional blank line between paragraphs.
•Include a works cited page at the end of the essay, if necessary.

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