This video will focus on how to write a background paragraph for your signature assignment: for the main essay in your signature assignment where you’re doing an analysis of an author’s views.
The first thing to know about background is where in the essay it goes, and this chart will give you an idea. The background paragraph goes right after the introductory paragraph but before any of the other body paragraphs, so it will be the second paragraph in the essay.
In terms of writing a background paragraph, organize it as follows. First of all, in the topic sentence, you need to signal that this is a background paragraph, because the default expectation of the reader is that right after you finish the introduction and state your thesis, you’ll get right into supporting the thesis. But you need to have a sentence that says, I’m going to take a second here to give you some background information, and then we’ll get into confirming the thesis. So you could begin with a sentence such as this: “Before examining A, where A is the main argument, we first need to understand B, where B is the background information.”
Of course, the background information you are going to be providing is background on the topic you are writing about. So in the later part of that paragraph, after the topic sentence, you only want to provide background information that is relevant to what that specific topic is—whether that is gender, class, sexual orientation, stereotyping, domestic violence—and to the specific period in which the literary work is set, because that may differ from period to period.
You want to provide background information that is research heavy, so this is a good place to use your secondary sources, because you need to provide background through the use of them. In fact, you can use sources here that don’t necessary talk about the story you are writing about but that talk about the topic, and then you can apply it to them.
However, at this point, you do not want to start making the main argument yet. You are just giving context for that argument, which is going to start right after this paragraph. So this is a place where you want an objective position and tone.
In the next video, we’ll take a look at some good and bad examples of background paragraphs for an essay analyzing an author’s observations.
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