Introductions to Essays

Getting started and grabbing attention

Below is an excerpt from longer instruction Brandon has composed for a piece-by-piece, systematic approach to essay writing.

1. Abstract style Introduction

The most basic is to provide an abstract of your paper. An abstract summarizes the major points of your essay in sequential order. For example:

Bharatanatyam is considered as synonymous with Indian classical dance, but its history betrays nearly every component of the definition of ‘classical’: namely, of being several centuries old, having a source of derivative styles, and being untouched by innovation [note…a thesis in the “you many think that…but actually” form] (Source: year, page). First, it will be demonstrated that Bharatanatyam is in fact a relatively new dance form that has eschewed its ancient origins. Second, comparative analysis of Bharatanatyam performances demonstrates immense innovation even within what is called classical Bharatanatyam. This essay argues that considering Bharatanatyam not as a classical—but as a classist—dance style, audiences and scholars might become aware of a how aristocracy has invested in promoting the image of Bharatanatyam in order to suppress its lower socio-economic roots.*

What do we now know about the essay? What do we not yet know?

2. Setting the scene with a Thick Description

Example:

Meduri, Avanthi. 1988. “Bharatha Natyam: What Are You?” Asian Theatre Journal 5 (1): 1-22

3. Theoretical Wrestling

Hill, Constance Valis. 2010. ‘Trickster Gods and Rapparees (1690-1900)’, in Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History(New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 1-9

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