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Stovall/Farrow/McMurray - Jr. Theme: Outline


Junior Theme Outline

Outline – Use this outline as a guide, modifying it to fit your information.

I.                     Introduction

a.Definition:  Begin with a paragraph that clearly establishes a working definition of the “American Dream.” You may begin by exploring the history of the most conventional definition, and may choose to transition to a more specific definition as connects to your core topic.  Your opening paragraph will need to include historical or contemporary allusions to texts or media that confirm that your definition is valid. 

                                                               i.      Opening remarks/hook—a  means of drawing the reader in, either a question, a very short anecdote, a quotation, or a little interesting tidbit of information that will be elaborated on later in the paper.  

                                                              ii.      Connector—  Link your hook to our larger research theme of “The American Dream.”

                                                            iii.      Definition-- Include a definition of the “American Dream.”

1.History of the definition

2.Example of the definition

b.Presenting the Debate:  Once you have established the definition that will be the foundation of your paper, you will introduce the debate and respond to the prompt in a clear and concise THESIS STATEMENT:  To what extent is the “American Dream” truly achievable by all?  You must narrow your focus by naming one specific issue or challenge that complicates the attainability of the American Dream and preview your sub-claims.

i.Introduce the debate

ii.Set up for your thesis

                                                            iii.      Thesis—an argument-driven statement that explains your argument about your issue and your individual.  This should be a complex statement that acknowledges the counterargument.   (See THESIS WORKSHEET)

II.                    Body:  Focus on the Counterargument (Concession/Refutation paragraph)
(Yes… But):  You must establish your own research credibility by acknowledging the truth and good will in at least ONE counter argument.   In this paragraph, you should:

a.       Introduce a credible source that takes a position that is alternative to your own and summarize the main counterargument.

b.       Introduce a quotation that exemplifies the author’s claim and provide an interpretation.

c.        Provide an interpretation of the quotation, demonstrating you understand what the author suggests.

d.       Concession:  Acknowledge the truth and good will in this claim. 

e.       Refutation:  But...  ARGUE/Explain why that particular argument is limited and link your reasoning back to your THESIS STATEMENT


III.                  Body:  Analyze your SCHOLARLY ARTICLE (one paragraph)
Open this segment of your research paper with a topic sentence that presents a reliable, well researched source that supports your overall claim.  This scholarly article can be one of the five American Dream synthesis sources or an article from one of the databases. The synthesis sources are already vetted for you.  Should you choose a scholarly article from a database, you want to ensure that the author is credible.

       In this paragraph, you should:

a.       Introduce your author with a lead-in demonstrating his or her credibility.

b.       Present your author’s main argument/claim about the American Dream and/or your topic.

c.        Introduce a quotation that exemplifies the author’s claim.

d.       Provide an interpretation of the quotation, demonstrating you understand what the author suggests.

e.Analyze/Argue how and why the author’s claim is important in supporting your own thesis

  1. Body: Provide and analyze QUANTITATIVE DATA to support your thesis (one Paragraph)
     Analyze an element of quantitative data (i.e. a graph, statistics, map, chart) that supports your thesis statement.
  1. Frame the quantitative data, introducing important context that will help a reader interpret the data effectively.
  2. Provide the chart, statistics, graph, or map.
  3. Present an interpretation of the graph, analyzing specific and important elements of the data.
  4. Analyze/Argue how and why the data is important in supporting your thesis.

V.                   Body:  Analyze your CASE STUDY (one paragraph)
Your case study is a specific, topic related example of an individual or a group of people who succeeded or failed in achieving the American Dream.

a.       Briefly introduce the background of your person or group of people.

b.       Explain how your individual(s) succeeded or failed in achieving the American Dream.

c.Include a direct quotation from an individual that reveals his or her attitude on the issue.

d.       Analyze what this quotation and the case study as a whole tells us about the attainability of the American Dream and how it supports your thesis.

VI.                  Conclusion and Final Synthesis

This is the part where you say what you want your readers to remember. You don’t just have to summarize what you have already said. But you should emphasize what you think is memorable, saying it in a fresh way, so that it doesn’t sound redundant.

a.       Review briefly how your multiple sources fit together.  What conflicts or patterns emerged?

b.       Restate your THESIS

c.        So What? Why does this research and this argument matter?

                                                               i.      How does your argument impact America/American culture? GO DEEPLY HERE.  This should be your own assessment/argument based on all of your research!  (Choose 2-3 of the following)

                                                              ii.      You want to connect here about what your topic teaches us about hope, the human capacity, and what it means to be human… and AMERICAN.   Link back to your hook and definition in your intro.

                                                            iii.      Say something to give the paper a sense of closure.  One thing you can do is to “kick” it into the future, speculating on what future generations (or just the people next year) will say about your topic. Or you could create your own statement, something that implies to the reader: The End.