It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or eloquent, and it will likely change as you write the paper, but having something to work with will keep you from freaking out and becoming a caffeinated zombie stumbling through the library at 3am searching for last minute sources, only to collapse amid a pile of books.
The best way to create this “working thesis,” as we’ll call it, is to look back over your notes, pick something that stands out to you, and then write 1-2 sentences that describe that topic.
A lot of people have the wrong mindset when it comes to research.
They view research as a way to find sources to tack onto the paper in order to fulfill a requirement, rather than a chance to discover new or interesting angles on your topic.
I’ll examine those features more closely when I read line by line. She still seems to be using this bird metaphor, though. It seems like she is still talking about the song here, since it “is heard.” But what does “sweetest – in the Gale? It’s not someone’s name, but there must be some other reason. That doesn’t make sense literally, so it must be a metaphor of some kind. If you have questions in mind from the beginning of your reading, coming up with a specific paper topic and outline is much easier.
Line by line observations/questions Line 1: A strange thing to say, but not hard to imagine. Line 3: Yep, she’s definitely comparing it to a bird, as it sings. Also, notice that I made note of words I didn’t know.General observations: The poem is in three stanzas (groups of lines) of four lines each, for a total of twelve lines. Just skimming it, I notice a lot of dashes, which is unusual. Line 10: Okay, so she also heard the bird/its song “on the strangest Sea.” What does that mean? I see that “Sea” is capitalized, just as “Bird” and “Gale” were. And it’s also capitalized, the fourth word in the poem to be like that. Also, why is she talking about the bird asking for a crumb?I also see some quotation marks and capitalized words. I’m pretty sure a gale is an intense storm, but I’ll make a note to look it up later just to be certain (knowing the precise meanings of words is especially important in poetry, since a good poet makes every word count.) And why is “Gale” capitalized? Birds can’t actually ask for anything, at least not in words, and even if they could, why is that important? Birds eat crumbs off the ground, so maybe it’s a pun of some kind. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but when I actually go through the above process it takes maybe 15-20 minutes, and the notes I’m making are messier and not as detailed. One thing I want you to notice is that I asked a lot of questions, which will be useful in the research and writing phase, since an essay, in its most basic form, is a piece of writing that asks and answers a question or questions on a given topic.You’re not just reading for information as you would when you read a textbook; rather, you’re trying to find a deeper meaning than the literal one on the surface.Of course, that kind of understanding is the ultimate goal.Let’s change the Content Type to “Book” (since that’s what the professor wanted) and the Location to “The College of Wooster Library” (since this theoretical paper is due in a week, I don’t have time to order a book from another library).I’ve also refined the Subject Terms to “american poetry” and “criticism and interpretation” and placed the search terms in quotation marks to get rid of results that don’t include the exact phrase I’m interested in. With these refinements, I find a book that looks promising. I’d have to look inside the book to be certain it’s helpful, of course, but it’s a good place to start.The specifics of this may differ for your school, but I’m sure your librarian will be happy to help you if you’re not sure how to access this page.I’ll start by typing in a general term related to the research at hand.If nothing else, research makes the writing process easier by preventing you from being vague or making stuff up, as you have real evidence to back up your claims.It also helps when dealing with difficult or subjective questions, as you’re able to call upon the knowledge of everyone who’s ever thought and written about the topic to help you.“Great,” you may say, “but how do I do that? ”Well, you can begin where you probably spend most of your time anyway: the internet.