ENG 101, Section 013

D. Vilhotti

October 8, 2007


Writing an Introduction for the EBTC Essay



First step – Choosing a Focus:

·        You do not need to respond to every single point the author makes. In general, you want to respond to the thesis and the main points that support it. However, if your theory seems to encompass more than one thesis and numerous claims to back each one up, then you may have to focus on just a portion of the theory.

·        Your paper should summarize & critique (support, refute, qualify) the theory’s thesis and 2-3 components of the theory / thesis (3 tends to be that “magic number” when it comes to essays, though).



If you were to critique Allport’s article, you could choose a number of different foci.  You could either…


a.       Critique the entire article. You could write out a step-by-step critique of the three main issues Allport addresses (which are summarized in his concluding paragraph).              ~OR~

b.      Critique one of the main points, breaking the specific point down into three specific aspects.  For instance, you could critique only Allport’s theory on how in-groups form and interact. If you did this, you would most likely discuss: 1) the factors make up the foundation of in-groups, 2) the relationship between in-groups and reference groups, and 3)how a person can have many in-groups layered on top of one another.


What Belongs in an Introduction / Proper Organization:

The following elements are listed in the order that they should appear in the introductory paragraph:

1.      1-3 “lead” sentences (Caution!  A Social Science lead sentence will be different in style than literature papers you have written in the past; we will work on this surface feature next week).  Often the lead sentence will include, as part of it’s larger point, the theory author’s name, and the date and title of his or her work.

2.      A brief (a few sentences) summary of the entire article / theory (even if you are focusing on a small part). This will include the purpose, context, thesis and main points of the theory.  (Good thing you’re writing Reading Logs, yes?)

3.      A summary of the specific section(s) of the article / theory that you will be critiquing.  This is similar to the “inverted triangle” you may have been taught in High School essay writing: you are getting more specific here.

4.      Introduce your evidence / experience. What event or person will you be using to counter or support the theory?

o       “Based on evidence garnered from observations of my former students who joined neighborhood gangs, Allport’s theory of in-group formation and interaction must be qualified.”

5.      A summary of your responses. You will simply state what parts of the theory you agree with and what parts you disagree with, and then you will briefly (one sentence) explain why.  This amounts to your thesis statement.  Although some teachers prefer simple thesis statements, most require complex thesis statements that summarize your argument in 1-4 sentences. 

o       “Students tended not to join gangs, or in-groups, out of a shared sense of habits and characteristics, but rather out of more pressing needs, such as protection and intense peer pressure.  Allport’s claim about the lack of necessity for in- and out-group hostility can, albeit rarely, characterize this population, as shown in an effective gang truce which helped to save lives; here, inter-group hostility was not essential to helping either in-group survive.  Allport’s claim about belonging to several “layered” in-groups, however, appropriately describes this population; while students may have belonged to different gangs, many were fans of the same music, same sports teams, and belonged to the same racial and socioeconomic in-groups.”



v     Write an introductory paragraph for your critique of your selected theory.  Consult your freewrite.  If you are further stuck, freewrite (no rules, no judgment, no stopping) each point (1-5) above.  If you can’t come up with any content for one, move on to the next.

v     Consult your group. Each member should read their paragraph out loud to the group. The group should decide on the best paragraph.

v     If we have time, we will discuss one student introduction as a class.