Claiming with purpose
Creating a claim
• A claim (or topic sentence) should be something that is
arguable and interesting. This is different from a “hook”.
It should never be VAGUE or TOO BROAD.
NO! “It is interesting that TCA students are different from
students at other schools” (opinion; vague; non-arguable)
YES! “Due to the rigorous expectations of a classical education,
TCA students excel academically compared to other students”
Claims usually a claim will
contain an answer to the
question “why” or “how do you
know” within it.
Claiming with literature
In a CDW paragraph or an essay, you want to try and
include the author’s full name and the title you’re
working with. It can be as simple as tacking on “In
Homer’s The Odyssey,” onto the front of your claim
Ex: “In Homer’s The Odyssey, the author
demonstrates the danger of hubris.”
Claims are . . .
1) Analytical, but never evaluative unless specifically prompted. In
other words, I’m not asking for a book report rating. Do not tell how great
the author is at something.
What to avoid – Examples:
“Homer is an interesting writer.”
“In The Odyssey, Homer does a great job describing important things.”
Words like “unique”, “interesting” and “important” – or phrases like “big
idea”, “huge concept”, etc. – are usually too vague and do not belong in
academic writing.
Do not to “flatter” the author –
“In all of Classic literature, Homer is superior and
excellent for all time.”
While this is nice thing to say, unless you have read
all of Classic literature it’s not a claim you can
“prove” with the text. Nor does it really set up your
Claiming with literature
• When it comes to making a claim or argument about literature, moving
from the “what” (plot, author, title – the “basics”) to the “how” (what
style/technique) and the “why” (significance, theme, “message” to the
• Let’s call it making sure your claim states PURPOSE. It shouldn’t just
identify what you’re talking about – it should give some clue on why the
author or you are writing about that subject
Statement/fact, which is hard to dispute:
“In The Odyssey, by Homer, the author writes about a man’s journey.”
While this is true, it only addresses the “what.” A thesis, or “claim,”
addresses the WHY.
A more arguable claim:
“In The Odyssey, Homer demonstrates Odysseus’ development from
proud and arrogant to compassionate hero.”
“Homer, in The Odyssey, uses the metaphor of a long journey to show
the challenges of life.”
Claims with purpose
If you get stuck trying to make a claim with purpose, try the following
Author, in Title, (does THIS with the text, with a character, with a symbol)
in order to (use a strong verb-- show the reader something, emphasize
something, make a point about something, display something)
“Dr. Seuss, in Green Eggs and Ham, uses the character of Sam-I-Am to
show that trying new things can be a valuable experience.”
“In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien uses Bilbo Baggins to demonstrate that
great courage can come from the most unexpected sources.”
CDW Power Paragraph Model:
Claim (Topic Sentence)
Data: Example with quotation*
Warrants: Commentary/Analysis*
Warrants: Commentary/Analysis*
Data: Example with quotation*
Warrants: Commentary/Analysis*
Warrants: Commentary/Analysis*
Conclusion (Tie back to claim)*
(*may be more than one sentence)
Body Paragraph
Homer demonstrates Odysseus’ cunning in the encounter with the
Cyclops. As he tells the Phaeacians, Odysseus is “known to the world / for
every kind of craft”; Odysseus considers himself an intelligent man
(Homer 9.21-22). His forethought in bringing strong wine and in telling
Polyphemus that his name is “nobody” proves his cunning (9.410). Had
Odysseus revealed his real name, after he and his men had stabbed out
the Cyclops’ eye, the other Cyclopes on the island would have come
running to Polyphemus’ aid. Even though Odysseus does reveal his name
because of his pride, Homer still shows that Odysseus is crafty because of
his forethought in the encounter with Polyphemus. Odysseus’ meeting
with the Cyclops reveals his wily and quick mind.
The Quotations
• A work of literary analysis depends on a close reading of the text.
Therefore, your ideas should always stem from and be supported by
a careful use and analysis of quotations. Every paragraph in your
essay, except the introduction and conclusion, should have at least
two quotations, and the whole paper should have a minimum of six
• Remember the following principles that apply to all quotations used
in essays:
• •
always frame quotations (that is, introduce them with your
own words; a quotation should never stand alone)
• •
briefly explain the context of a quotation before giving it
• •
always cite quotations (using internal citations)
• •
always comment upon quotations (never insert quotations
without discussing them in your essay; use warrants).
The Format
• Your essay should be formatted according to MLA style:
• Font—Times New Roman, size 12, throughout
• Spacing—Double-spaced throughout; no extra spaces
• Citations—end of the sentence in (Book.line#)
• Heading—four lines: Name, Teacher’s Name, Class, Date
(# Month Year)
• Header—last name and page number on the top right of
each page, .5” from the top
• Work(s) Cited—properly formatted, after the last page of
• Margins—one inch on all sides
How to Cite The Odyssey:
• When Homer's Odysseus comes to the hall of Circe, he finds his men
"mild / in her soft spell, fed on her drug of evil" (10.209-11).
• Inside your citation you should have (Book.line #-#).
• Put Homer in the first citation (Homer 1.1-4) and then include only
the book and line numbers afterwards (2.3-4). (if it is your only
CDW Practice Paragraph
• Write a CDW paragraph using the following claim:
In The Odyssey, Homer demonstrates that pride leads to a
• Due:

similar documents