Dueling Thesis Statements


Dueling Thesis Statements

Your work from now on, starting with the Proposal, will be grounded by what I call “Dueling Thesis Statements” comprised of a “conversational” and an “argumentative” thesis in tandem.

Though often discussed in the context of explicitly argumentative papers, thesis statements are crucial for all kinds of writing. Taking this broader view, we can think of a thesis statement as a map and mirror for what follows in any given paper: it should clearly and carefully both anticipate and reflect the kind of work the author accomplishes in the paper itself.  If your paper strategically gathers a handful of voices around your chosen text and topic, then your thesis will be a condensed reflection of that research conversation, sketching out its broader contours. This is what I call the conversational thesis. Such a thesis is most often more than a single sentence because you’re dealing not just with multiple voices, but different kinds of voices. One source might help you by providing theoretical concepts; another will be more directly related to your own source; and another might do something else entirely. The conversational thesis needs to reflect this range without necessarily naming all the names of your sources.

But you will do more than just orchestrating a conversation in your final project; you are also extending it to fresh ground. And so, because your Proposal will anticipate both a research conversation and your own argumentative and analytical extension of that conversation, it should offer  Dueling Thesis Statements–a two-part statement that both sketches the contours of that broader conversation and presents an argumentative statement indicating how you will engage an extend that conversation to new critical territory. Though it often makes sense for the conversational thesis to set the stage for the argument, it’s possible that your intro will feed directly into the argumentative thesis itself. In this case, your conversational thesis will help you transition to the CVC itself.

Your Dueling Thesis Statements should be ~3-5 sentences .  Need some help getting started? Check out these handy templates

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