This woodcut depicts the first known duel between thesis statements

Feel free to borrow and adapt the following for the Dueling Thesis Statements in your Proposal and beyond. Please note that these are extremely truncated: your Dueling Ts will be 3-5 sentences +. That said, the templates off a good place to start, even if we fill them out immediately. First, here’s the key to the template:

X = Your Text
Y = Your Theoretical / Methodological / Historical / Author/Biography Background / Theme
A = Critical Common Sense–what “They Say” (what has been said)
B = My Unique Argument–what “I Say” (what you’re adding to the conversation)

Template 1 (simple, just the bones): In what follows, I trace [X] in the context of [Y]. Critics have duly noted [A]. However, I hope look more closely at a specific part of [X] to offer an account of how [B].

Template 2 (more complex):This essay explores [X] in the context of [Y]. Though critics have noted [A], they have not yet explored (or I would like to explore more fully) [background for B]. Closer attention to [specific aspects X] reveal that, rather than simply show how [paraphrase of A], the author actually suggests that [specific statement of B]


Each of these templates offers a clear articulation of one might enter a given research conversation, indicating the broader theoretical context, the more specific conversation surrounding your text/author, and also showing how you plan to extend that conversation. Your Dueling Ts should do the same.

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