Compare and contrast two approaches to popular culture.
Gender politics, Racial politics
The opening paragraphs of an essay are particularly important. They offer an ideal opportunity to grab
the reader’s attention, and to set out your basic argument.
There are no rigid rules for opening paragraphs, but here are some of possibilities:
(1) State your argument clearly, so that the reader has no doubt about your standpoint. This makes it
easier to follow the argument in the rest of the essay. You are strongly advised to state explicitly in one
of the opening paragraphs: ‘This essay argues that…’ or ‘In this essay, I argue that…’
(2) Explain why the topic is significant, and what its implications are.
This is a standard approach in academic articles. It serves to justify the ensuing piece of work as being
more than the product of antiquarian curiosity.
(3) Put your argument in the context of academic debate.
By setting out the contrary views, you show your own contribution to debate. In your research, keep an
eye out for potential ‘targets’ – vast generalisations and oversimplifications – that you can criticise or
correct in your essay. If you can’t find scholarly adversaries, then play the devil’s advocate: show that
your case is not self-evident, show that you are aware other plausible interpretations. But avoid
distorting an argument, or creating ‘straw men’ to demolish. You should endeavour to present the
contrary viewpoint as honestly as possible.
- use academic sources