I’m studying for my English class and need an explanation.

How to Participate:

(A) Your formal essay due by the end of the week will succeed largely on the strength of your thesis statement, which will determine the direction and scope of your analysis. Read the Junot Diaz story, “Drown,” then carefully read the essay instructions. After that, choose a prompt and begin brainstorming your idea for an analytical thesis claim about the story.

(B) Spend enough time on thesis development. It’s critical. Once you have a clear, arguable, thesis statement, you’ll be ready to participate here, in this workshop discussion. The purpose of this peer review workshop is to share your thesis at the draft stage and respond to each other’s ideas-in-progress with focused, constructive feedback that will help each writer rethink, develop and revise in preparation for the essay due at the end of the week.

(C) Since the success of your essay will depend in large part on the strength of your thesis statement, be as specific, thorough and constructive in your peer review of each other’s work as possible. Constructive criticism should be welcomed. The starting assumption should be that the work of everyone in your workshop would benefit from critique and revision.

Your First Post: 2 Parts

  1. THESIS (1 sentence): Post your thesis statement.
  2. EXPLANATION (2 to 4 sentences): Underneath the thesis, include a brief explanation in informal, conversational language that clarifies your intentions to your fellow peer reviewers.
    • Identify the prompt you chose
    • Explain why your thesis is arguable, and not merely a descriptive observation.
    • You might begin your explanation this way: What I want the reader to understand as a result of reading this paper is that…

Peer Review Response Posts

Your peer workshop groups are small – 3 to 4 people. Respond to all members in your group. You are not responsible for responding to those who do not post their thesis/explanation by the deadline.

Your feedback should contain the elements below. Number them in the same order as they are here:

LENGTH of Responses: There is no rigid length requirement for your peer reviews, but for each type of feedback, aim for somewhere between 1 to 4 sentences

1. PARAPHRASE the thesis. Restate your peer’s thesis in your own words, retaining the meaning, and explaining what the claim is trying to accomplish. If the thesis is too vague, confusing, or otherwise problematic to paraphrase, indicate that instead.

2. ASSESS FOCUS & SPECIFICITY: Is the thesis claim narrow and specific enough? Very often, first-draft thesis statements are overly broad, unfocused, or too general. They take on too much and do so in broad or vague language. It is much better to go narrow and deep in a literary analysis than broad and shallow. In a few sentences, evaluate how well the thesis in its current form is both narrow in focus and specific in its language.

3. IS THE CLAIM ARGUABLE? ASSESS: A literary analysis essay is driven by ideas. It is not a book report or a plot summary. For that reason, a successful thesis for such an essay must be one that is arguable; i.e., it must make a claim that is rooted in analysis and interpretation. It should allow the writer to draw conclusions and develop a point of view, supported by a close reading of the text. See examples below:

    • Good: In “Refresh, Refresh,” the author chooses to minimize the presence of the female characters, who are sexualized and mostly secondary, to illuminate the narrator’s narrow understanding of masculinity, and his belief in it as a pathway to his absent soldier father.
      • This thesis will allow the writer to build and develop an argument that is idea-based
    • Bad: In “Refresh, Refresh,” Josh’s father is away on military duty and he misses him.
      • This thesis is merely the statement of an obvious plot point.

4. REVISION SUGGESTION: Offer your strongest suggestion for revision, and why. Be as specific as possible.