Interpreting Literature: Session IV My Antonia 2015-02-26

We spent the bulk of our time yesterday reviewing theses with tension, crafting practice theses statements, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of leaving one’s home country for a new one, and sharing ideas about how to find points and particulars for an expository essay. We also briefly introduced our next author, Willa Cather, and talked about the inspiration for her heroine Antonia Shimerda, whom we will be meeting through our reading this week.

The Homestead Movement and Bohemian and Swedish Immigrants

We then read over two handouts on the “Homestead Movement and the Bohemian and Swedish immigrants that came to prairie country in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We learned where Bohemia used to be and discussed these handouts in context with our first expository essay assignment, which is on the topic of leaving one’s home country for a new one. Students can take this topic in many different directions, and we spent a few minutes brainstorming verbally and then writing down some of those thoughts that stemmed from our discussion.

Following the outline I provided, students should create their thesis with tension for the immigration essay and email it to me for help if needed. A few are ready to go with their theses, but if they need to do some further research before deciding on the final version, that is more than fine. After crafting the thesis with tension, students should continue with their research and fill out the “Points and Particulars” portion of their handouts.

As I told the students, if they want to take an alternative view on this topic, that is fine! The evidence they find may lead them to make a surprising, unexpected statement.

The Thesis with Tension

As discussed at our last class, a thesis with tension “…means the reader has a sensation of being stretched from a familiar, unsurprising idea to a new, surprising one…” (Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing 44).

For our purposes, a thesis with tension should begin with the sentence starters “although” or “whereas.” The first part of the sentence should stating the claim the writer will refute, and the second part of the sentence (or clause) should assert the view that the paper will prove or support.

To practice thesis with tension one last time, everyone posed another question and wrote another thesis statement on a second topic that they had chosen to explore at our last meeting. The questions were excellent! We shared our theses and I think everyone gets the general idea. I was able to give some feedback so that hopefully our non-practice theses statements will be on target.


We’ll talk more about paraphrasing and summarizing our particulars next week, so don’t worry about that now. For the worksheet, these particulars can be just one or two sentences, but make a note about where you found the information so you can go back to it later. You can make these reference notes on the index cards I gave you or computer. Print (or bookmark) at least one article or piece of information you used to fill in the outline and BRING IT TO CLASS NEXT WEEK. We’ll be practicing paraphrasing and summarizing using the research you found, so YOU’VE GOT TO COME PREPARED!

Any questions, email me! See you next week.

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