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NostalgicChills's avatar

Is it cheesy/corny/immature to ask a hypothetical question in a College-like essay?

Asked by NostalgicChills (2759 points ) May 29th, 2012

I’m writing a research paper for my History class. It’s not a college paper, since I’m still in high school, but my teacher wants us to write like college students. My paper is about the Equal Rights Amendment vs. Women’s Rights and my question is, “Is the Era really protecting Women’s Rights, or will it take away more rights than it promises?” Is it cheesy/unacceptable to insert that question at the end of my introduction paragraph?

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13 Answers

bookish1's avatar

I don’t think that asking a question that you intend to answer thoughtfully through the course of your paper is cheesy. Academics do this frequently. Think of it as the research question that you are setting yourself.

I would, however, say it is a cheesy way to begin a paper if you are not going to make an explicit argument. I teach intro-level college history students and I work with my students often on writing. And I counsel them against making the kind of argument that says “Many people have different points of view on this question, and now I will tell you all about them.” Can you see how that is not taking an explicit stance on the matter?

What will your thesis statement/argument be?

zenvelo's avatar

My only suggestion is to re-phrase it as ”Would the ERA really protect Women’s Rights…etc.”

The ERA failed to be ratified within the deadline set by Congress, and is thus not currently an open issue.

gambitking's avatar

You don’t want your thesis statement to be a question. You don’t want to pose hypothetical questions to readers. Those elements are hallmarks of sophomoric naivety (sorry to anyone who does this – welcome to your wakeup call nonetheless). I won’t say this statement is absolute or exclusive, as some people can pull it off, and some topics warrant such a style.

But by and large, it’s simply not a collegiate-grade maneuver that will impress many people. Strength in your voice goes a long way to the impact and quality of an essay, keeping that strength of voice throughout the paper is tough, and you don’t want to lose any of it. But with an intro like that, you’re pretty much embracing a weaker tone from the get-go.

It also goes back to title-writing and thesis statement writing anyway, you haven’t formed a strong argument, point or built a unique platform with your posed question, even if you reworded it to a statement. Dig a little deeper in your topic and draw the reader in while making your stance. You’ll have to take a side on this one anyway, it sounds like… so take one from the beginning if that’s within the scope of the assignment.

You can still argue both sides, even when you get behind one of them (in fact, in an argumentative paper, you are obliged to present both sides).

Anyway, sounds like you should find a strong, interesting point within the controversy you’re studying, go more for the details therein and less on the generic subject and let a new thesis statement (not question) flow out of the more honed-in topic. Good luck!

NostalgicChills's avatar

@gambitking
That makes sense, but I’m not using the question as a thesis statement.
I wanted to add it in addition to everything else.

Trillian's avatar

@NostalgicChills the problem with posing additional questions to a paper is that it runs the risk of becoming incoherent and cluttered.
You really need to parse and parse and parse. Stick to the issue, your supporting statements and conclusion. If your question can be a parting thought in your conclusion, that would be the only place I would recommend placing it.
You will be graded, in part, for clarity of thought and presentation. Your question may have a part of an overall issue, but a topic like this is very broad, and your job is to narrow it, not add side-bars that distract from your statement.

Jeruba's avatar

@Trillian, what do you mean by “parse” in that context? I don’t understand your use of it.

LostInParadise's avatar

@NostalgicChills , How does the question relate to the thesis topic? You can’t just say, oh here is another aspect of the issue, which I am not going to discuss. Unless there is some clear relationship between the thesis statement and the question, save the question for a future essay. It would help if you told us your thesis statement.

Trillian's avatar

@jeruba, I mean trim. Cut away all the superfluous words. Maybe I should have said ‘pare’.

Jeruba's avatar

@Trillian, oh, ok, thanks. “Pare” crossed my mind, but I wasn’t comfortable guessing.

NostalgicChills's avatar

@LostInParadise
To put it simply, my whole paper is about how the ERA would not work in our society if it is ever ratified.

woodcutter's avatar

You can get by with it only if you say “but I digress” shortly after. That’s how it’s done.

LostInParadise's avatar

You could say that there are two ways of looking at the rightness of the ERA, either from a practical or ethical point of view. Then say that your paper addresses the practical point of view and then segue into your question.

NostalgicChills's avatar

Ok thanks everyone.

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