Consider why we write essays.
An introduction should…
- motivate the question. What is at stake here? Why is this such a significant question? Is it an area of controversy?
- introduce the material you will be using to answer the question (e.g. text[s]), if not defined by the question.
- define the terms of the question if necessary, and/or problematise these if relevant.
- give relevant context for the specific material you will be focusing on. If this is one or more texts, where/when were they written? Are they representative of a particular literary ‘movement’? Do they reflect particular concerns of their society/time?
- convey the direction of your argument and point towards your conclusion.
- give a clear sense of the structure of your essay, i.e. how you plan to approach the question.
Read these example introductions. How would you evaluate each one? How could they be improved? (pdf document will open in a new window.)
Examine one of your own introductions, taken from a recent essay. How could it be developed and/or improved?
All seminar 2 pages are also available as a pdf document.