Meaning of Essay

| March 26, 2015

Meaning of Essay


This information is for first paper, if it can be about two pages.


  • Is a liberal arts education valuable in addressing world problems? Why?
  • Are universities addressing world issues?
  • What is distinctive about “Christian” liberal arts?
  • What is Mannoia as it relates to description as a center for a Christian Liberal Arts?


Information for Long Essay: One, maybe two pages.

A Note on the Meaning of Essay

The essay is one form of writing especially popular in academia.  An essay is thesis based, meaning that the writer must communicate a persuasive argument in a concise statement that is more fully expressed in the body of the paper.  Essays are tools to inform and explain one issue by presenting information in an attempt to argue for one specific outcome or interpretation.


A simple exercise is to think about your favorite flavor of ice cream.  After coming up with your choice, think of how you would persuade someone else that your favorite flavor is the best.  You may immediately think that “it’s just my opinion!”  There’s no way to persuade someone of the “rightness” of a flavor of ice cream.  You are correct—it is your opinion, but the essay is a way to take your opinion of something and cast it in a way that “proves” to others that your opinion is solidly considered.  What could you say about ice cream?  What about the superiority of vanilla bean texture or appearance to French vanilla? (Has there been a national survey of “best flavor”?) Or, Brand X’s chocolate made with cream rather than oil, coco beans rather than extract, etc. (better ingredients).


Your duty in constructing an argument is to find ways to express “why” you think as you do.  Are there facts (such as better-tasting or healthier ingredients in Brand X or national survey results) that lend credence to your opinion?  Are there objective data (facts) that take away from your argument that you’ll need to acknowledge and discuss?


Thesis Statement Example

Every essay should have a thesis statement based on your opinions and the facts/data found in class material or other works you’ve read.  A good thesis example is below:


British murder mystery novels and short stories of the pre-World War II era (1880-1940) are superior to those written in the mid-to-late twentieth century (1945-2000).  Deep characterization, intricate description, and a flair for the extraordinary place the pre-war literature at a height untouched by works written after 1945.  Taken together, these attributes make the pre-war mysteries more enjoyable to read than their poorly-crafted and depressing post-war counterparts.  While the pre-World War II novels and stories focus only rarely on more than the upper classes, this oft-cited deficiency does not take away from their purpose—to draw the reader in and make him or her ask “who did it?”


This is good because it provides the reader with a specific topic (British Murder Mystery novels) and argument—that one type (pre-World War II) is better than another form (mid-to-late twentieth century).  It also identifies why the writer believes this to be true (deep characterization, intricate description, and a flair for the extraordinary characterize pre-World War II novels, but not those after 1945).


The argument in the body of the paper should follow in a logical way from the thesis statement.  So, after reviewing the thesis statement the reader expects to learn about deep characterization in pre-1940 novels in comparison to later mysteries.  The reader (and the instructor) does not have to agree with your perspective, but they should be able to find a logical and ordered argument throughout the paper that is tied to evidence.



  1. Write an essay in response to the following:
    1. Reflecting on its history and traditions, what is the future of the liberal arts and of a liberal arts education?
    2. Is it of value to you personally?
    3. Will a liberal arts education benefit you in the future?

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