Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)
“Nice” and “Nicely Done” are affirmative replies.
For example, a professor may use “Nice” to refer to a specific paragraph or idea you express within your paper or to point out that your analysis is a reflection of connected ideas. The same professor may write “Nicely done” after reading the entire paper; typically, you will see the affirmation at the end on the last page or sometimes on the first page near the top left corner. The choice of location is subject to the professor’s discretion. These are general definitions of these comments. On another level, professors may use the comments for one of two reasons: 1) to highlight those areas of your analysis that are pleasing to the eye or 2) to call attention to the skill you have in terms of presenting information on the page.
In terms of the first reason, a paper filled with gaps, illogical structure, mismatched chronology, unsupported thesis, and irrelevant quotes is not a paper that is pleasing to the eye. When we use the word “eye,” we are referring to sight in terms of the physical sense and vision in terms of the word discernment. The thesis represents your vision for the paper, how you view the topic. The examples and evidence you use must support this vision. The structure you adopt must serve to present the vision clearly.
Therefore, when you construct a paper in the beginning with a vision, but fail to follow through with the vision to the very end, then your professor will accuse you of not understanding the direction in which you want to take your paper. In other words, you don’t understand how to present, support, and evaluate the topic using the thesis as a guide. On the other hand, when you properly construct a paper that includes a definable thesis (vision), supported claims, logical analysis, and balanced view, you have created a product that is pleasing to the eye. Under these conditions, the comment “Nice” means “delightful read.”
In terms of the second reason, developing an analysis requires great skill. The ability to position the right quote in order to support a topic sentence is characteristic of a student who understands both the purpose of incorporating quotes and the purpose of the author. Understanding the purpose of the author means understanding his thesis, or what he believes. You can’t incorporate a quote into your analysis unless you understand the views of the author.
For example, if you want to use a literary critic within the analysis of your essay, you must review his purpose for evaluating the literary work. Once you locate the critic’s thesis, then you must also search the text to find topic sentences he uses to support his claims. Remember that the author of a literary work is not in the business of appealing you, but the literary critic’s objective is to persuade you that his claim or thesis may be applicable to the author’s work. Once you locate the topic sentences, you must also review the critic’s examples, which are the tools he uses to support his claims even further.
Your task after this is to develop a one-page outline of the critic’s views. Once you finish with the critic, go back to the literary work, which is actually the basis of your paper. Review the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion of the work. What is the main theme of the work? In other words, the work is about what? Who is the main character? What are the main relationships of the story? What are the main events?
From this information, the next task is to develop a brief outline and include reference numbers to the text. When you can answer these questions, you have developed a good understanding of the work. Now you must bring together your 1) prep statements, 2) the quote you want to use from the literary work, 3) follow-up statements where you evaluate the quote, 4) the literary critic’s view about the quote and/or particular event in the story you highlight, and a 5) follow-up analysis of all these elements. The sixth element is 6) skill.
Using skill to combine all of these elements requires attention to detail, patience, and an ability to discern the best method for presenting information accurately, cohesively, and logically. Details are important. Giving attention to them is equally important. A detail consists of specific information about a particular thing, person, place, or idea. A detail is a noun. Within each quote you use there is present detail, a piece of information specific to the context of the quote.
For example, through the literary work, the author provides ample details about characters, relationships, and contexts. In addition, the literary critic uses the medium of criticism to highlight details about the author’s work; the critic focuses on a key aspect that he feels is a problem with the literary work and analyzes it using one or more schools of literary thought such as “Cultural Studies,” “Marxism,” “Postmodernism,” and/or “Reader-response Criticism.” Moreover, as students you use your prep statements and analysis to offer details concerning the author’s work.
Therefore, aligning the details is an ability you need, because including specific information about the literary work brings focus to your essay. Aligning the details requires patience, because you must ensure that the detail in your prep statement corresponds appropriately to the author’s detail. Once you have finished incorporating the quote, you must then evaluate it and provide the same detail again. In other words, you can’t begin focusing on one detail with your prep statement, incorporating a quote to support your claim, and then evaluating it with another detail. During the process of incorporating and evaluating the quote, you must stay on the path of your prep statement in the same way that every sentence within your body paragraph must stay on the path of the main topic sentence.
You will have to exercise additional patience when incorporating a literary critic’s view about the author’s work. What this means is, if you want to use any quote from that critic’s work as supporting evidence within your essay, then you will have to locate the detail suitable for proving your case. Aligning the details becomes even more important here, because now you have the details from your prep statement, from the author’s work, and also the literary critic’s view to bring together for the purpose of presenting the information on the page accurately, cohesively, and logically.
Discerning how to present information under these conditions is important, because each element of your paper must fit into a whole. This is what arranging elements cohesively means. When you align the details, you fulfill the accuracy requirement, by default. However, when you align the details, you still need to ensure that what you present on the page is cohesive and logical. This is where the revision process comes in, because before you can move on to another section of your paper, you may have to rearrange information. You want each element of a body paragraph to serve a purpose whether the purpose is to inform, persuade, and/or support.
For example, if you are using a quote within a body paragraph, it is likely that you are using the quote as supporting evidence from the literary work. However, when you use a prep statement before the quote, it is likely that you are using that statement to persuade the reader. That’s why before you can rearrange information, you must understand the purpose of each sentence you use. This will help you to rearrange the information so that it is cohesive. When you arrange elements cohesively, you arrange them under one central idea, theme, example, detail, viewpoint, and/or literary thought. In our example, when we align the details of our sentences within the body paragraph, we are in fact arranging elements cohesively. Each element falls under a particular, central detail. This simplifies the revision process, because when you revise this group of sentences, you will do so with the central detail in mind.
Once you have arranged the elements cohesively, then you must perform one last step, which requires you to revise for logic. Revising for logic includes first examining the sentences for keywords. If you use keywords such as “inference,” “allude,” “denote,” or “connote,” then you must ensure that the sentences you include within your paper actually reflect the definitions of these words.
For example, according to a standard dictionary, the term “inference” means the process of deriving logical consequences from a set of assumed premises. In simple terms, there is a higher certainty that the conclusions we draw actually derive from the premises we assume in the beginning. With this in mind, the term is interchangeable with “deductive argument,” which basically means that we have all that we need to reach a conclusion from what is present in the premises.
Therefore, when using “infer,” “we can infer,” “it is inferred,” “we can deduce,” or “the argument infers,” make certain that the conclusions you draw derive from the initial statements (premises) you make just before the conclusion.
The best method for revising sentences that don’t appear logical on the page is to start with the conclusion and then work your way backward. After this check to be certain that what you say in the conclusion is present in the few statements that precede it. Under all of these conditions, “Nice” refers to how skillfully (delightfully) you present the information on the page. However, “Nicely Done” refers to how logically you present the information in terms of both cohesiveness and accuracy.
For an extended explanation of deductive reasoning, see also the comment “Logic and Articulation.”
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.