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How to Write a Term Paper Choose a Topic Do not hunt for subjects let them choose you not you them Samuel Butler 1 Choosing a topic is the first step in the pursuit of a thesis Below is a logical progression from topic to thesis a Close reading of the primary text aided by a reading journal b Growing awareness of interesting qualities within the primary text c Choosing a topic for research d Asking productive questions that help explore and evaluate a topic e Creating a research hypothesis f Revising and refining a hypothesis to form a working thesis 2 First and most important identify what qualities in the primary source pique your imagination and curiosity and send you on a search for answers This process of identification can be facilitated through the use of the reading journal a A reading journal is a permanent record of your immediate and candid responses to a piece of literature b In your journal record spontaneously those quotations ideas questions observations and associations that move you the reader Also record the page where you can later find the source of your responses c Excerpts from a journal kept while reading Toni Morrisons Beloved p 3 124 was spiteful Full of babys venom Why is the house identified as a number And where did the baby venom come from Baby venom interesting oxymoron Why is 124 never referred to as a home Sethes sons have fled the house because it committed some horror The house sounds scary A womans identity is often so tied up with her home that I wonder what Morrison is implying about Sethe on p 4 when she refers to the houses Outrageous behavior for example it turned-over slop jars and emitted gusts of sour air Drivers whip their horses when they pass 124 Clearly outsiders are
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