[COMPLETED] The purpose of this assignment is to write a thesis or topic (preliminary) sentence for your Final Paper
Instructions for Task 4
The purpose of this assignment is to write a thesis or topic (preliminary) sentence for your Final Paper, and to invent an outline of possible arguments and textual evidence that could be used to prove such a thesis. By submitting this task, you will be able to receive suggestions from the professor about your topic and about your argument to prove the thesis.
FOCUS on your TOPIC and INVENT a THESIS:
Now is the time to select a topic and invent a thesis for your final project in the course. Hopefully you already have some idea of a general topic that interests you. Remember that your topic must relate to one of the texts or literary genres we have studied. It should also reflect in some way the extratextual information (history, culture, literary theory, etc.) that we have studied in the course and that relates to its topic. If you decide to write about Leonor López de Córdoba, for example, your thesis should take into account what is presented in the Introduction to her work on Blackboard.
It is important that the subject is focused a lot so that it is productive. In addition, a requirement of this Final Project is that it has an analytical theme, that is, that there is an argument about the meaning or function of the focused theme . It must not be merely descriptive (for example, a summary of the plot of a work, or a description of a character that does not explain its symbolism, message, its literary function, etc.). Here are some strategies to come up with a good thesis.
- How do you approach a topic properly? Review the process of approaching a possible literary theme:
Too general theme: the picaresque novel
A little more focused theme : Lazarillo de Tormes
More focused theme : the episode of the blind man in Lazarillo de Tormes
Well focused theme : violence in the episode of the blind man in Lazarillo de Tormes
In this series of possible increasingly focused topics, let’s note that more focused is better for a paper of only eight to twelve pages. But it is not enough to invent a focused topic if it is limited to being completely descriptive. An analysis of the function or meaning of this must be added within our study of the literature of the Golden Age.
A good analytical thesis can be defined as follows:
a well – focused topic + a specific analytical comment on that topic .
In the case of the topic focused above (the violence in the episode of the blind man in Lazarillo de Tormes ), we should ask ourselves, why is this violence included in that episode? What does it mean or what aspects of the historical reality or the literary discourse of c. 1545-1550 are reflected in it? How does it work to influence the message of the text in general?
A merely descriptive thesis:
Lazarillo suffers more and more violence during the episode of the blind man in Lazarillo de Tormes, and the experience deforms him for the rest of his life after he becomes the material perpetrator of acts of violence.
COMMENTS: this type of thesis corresponds to an analysis of C in this course. It limits itself to describing what is in the text in a superficial way. It does not attempt to explain or analyze the meaning of the literary form or relate it to the literary, historical, and cultural concepts we have learned in the course units. Why does the anonymous author present us with this portrait of an abused person who becomes an abuser?
A more analytical thesis:
The violence in the episode of the blind man forms a key element in the ‘bad education’ that Lázaro receives at the hands of his blind teacher, but that bad education is based more on hypocrisy than on violence. There is a parallelism in the text between the violence that the blind man uses against Lazarillo’s body and the hypocrisy and duplicity that the blind man uses to subvert the moral sense of the young rogue.
COMMENTS: This thesis is better than the first for being more analytical and less descriptive (it would more or less earn a B or maybe A in this course, depending on the depth of its textual interpretation). He begins to contextualize the focused detail (the violence in that episode) within his literary framework (the representation of the rudeness suffered by the rogue in two ways—physical violence and moral or linguistic distortions based on lies and hypocrisy). However, it leaves open many questions about the meaning or function of this violence in the picaresque novel from an extratextual point of view . Why does the text portray a case of a deforming education?
An analytical thesis:
The use of violence and hypocrisy to teach ‘ the art of living’ to Lazarillo in the episode of the blind man metaphorically represents the situation of the subordinate classes that had to learn to survive as oppressed as they could by the noble values of secular Spanish society in the 16th century.
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COMMENTS: A much stronger thesis than the first two for being analytical and precise, and for linking the focused literary element (the representation of Lazarillo’s education that is based on violence and oppression by the most powerful) with his historical-literary context: the social situation of the lower classes in the stately system of sixteenth-century Spain. It is best because it allows the student to link their investigation of this literary topic to a range of diverse literary and sociocultural topics. Furthermore, it is clear that this thesis lends itself to a logical argument that can be tested using textual and extratextual information . You will have to include information on the situation of the poor classes during the Golden Age to verify that there is a connection with the details of the education in violence and hypocrisy that Lazarillo receives from the blind man.
How are my arguments organized to prove my analytic thesis?
The next step in this task is to create an outline of the main arguments that you plan to include in your essay to prove the thesis. It is not about writing the entire essay, but rather indicating in a preliminary way the details and concepts and citations that could be included to demonstrate the veracity of your interpretation. Generally, one includes three sub-arguments to prove his main argument (ie the main thesis), but there can be more than three as well. In your outline, you should include not only your important sub-arguments, but also textual details or historical information that you plan to use to prove your thesis.
A well focused and analytical thesis already contains in itself the basic elements that need to be included to prove it. Consider the following model for this task:
Thesis : The use of violence and hypocrisy to teach ‘the art of living’ to Lazarillo in the episode of the blind man metaphorically represents the situation of the subordinate classes that had to learn to survive as oppressed as they could by the noble values of the secular Spanish society of the century XVI.
Main arguments with details that would work as proofs:
- Spanish society in the 16th century is characterized by its stately and hierarchical character, and by the oppression of the lower classes
- information on the rebellion of the comuneros and the imposition of absolutism under Carlos V (I of Spain)
- more information about my research on Spanish society in the 16th century (academic sources on the subject)
- the picaro is a symbolic representative of the lower classes due to his marginalized situation, his state of radical ‘disgrace’, etc.: he cannot become an ‘honest Spaniard’ no matter how hard he tries
- Lazarillo’s disgraced parents: their social marginalization is inherited
- being half orphaned, rejected by his mother, abandoned to his fate confirms him as an ‘outsider’ in a social system that rejects him
- the relative innocence of Lazarillo in this first episode
- Will he be the son of converts or Moriscos?
- although not of noble class, the blind man occupies a place of authority over the rogue, he is a ‘ second father’ and teacher in the art of living that should instruct him to be an ‘honest and productive’ citizen, but he does not do that: he mistreats him in order to educate him to be another rogue like the blind man himself
- the use of violence is increasingly extreme: the stone bull, the sausages, the pot of wine
- parallelism between violence and hypocrisy if we understand that this episode is a distorting ‘bad education’ on how to survive in a hostile and hypocritical world
- Lazarillo’s act of violence confirms that he has learned the lessons of this teacher, and that he has even surpassed him: he will continue to learn new lessons about how to survive in the stately Spain of Carlos V
- The model here presents a very developed theme. Your outline does not need to be as detailed , but put at least least three secondary arguments , with some details of the analyzed text and historical-social or literary information that could be appropriate for such thesis. To get the points for this assignment, you don’t have to achieve a perfect thesis or a super organized and complete outline: it serves more to start a dialogue between the professor and the student about their plans for the final project. Remember that this work is of the utmost importance (50% of the final course grade), so it is time to pay close attention to it. Take this opportunity to share your plans with your teacher so they can suggest how you could improve your project before you turn in the final version.
Like the other tasks before the Final Project, this one is worth 1.5 points of the Final Project grade.
Rubric for this assignment:
Well focused thesis with a specific and analytical comment : 50% = (0.75)
3 secondary arguments to support the thesis / with textual and extratextual information : 50% (0.75)
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