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Last Updated: Apr 21, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Writing a Thesis Statement Print Page

Writing a thesis statement

How to develop a thesis statement for your art history paper


A thesis statement is an assertion/claim, not a statement of fact or an observation.

  • Fact or observation: There was a lot of religious art in the 16th century.
  • Thesis: The Catholic Church was a major patron of the 16th  century, thus driving the subject matter to be religious in nature.


A thesis takes a stand rather than announcing a subject.

  • Announcement: The thesis of this paper is the difficulty being a woman artist through time.
  • Thesis:  There are less women artists throughout western history because they did not have the same educational opportunities.


A thesis is the main idea, not the title. It must be a complete sentence that explains in some detail what you expect to write about.

  • Title: Pop Art and the Anti-War movement
  • Thesis:   The Pop Art of the 1960’s reacted visually to the anti-war sentiments of the United States.


A thesis statement is narrow and specific, rather than broad and/or vague. If the thesis statement is sufficiently narrow, it can be fully supported.

  • Vague: Norman Rockwell’s illustrations were popular.
  • Specific:  Norman Rockwell’s illustrations reflected cultural concerns of their day.


A thesis statement has one main point rather than several main points. More than one point may be too difficult for the reader to understand and the writer to support.

  • More than one main point:  Alfred Stieglitz was instrumental in developing an appreciation of photography as fine art, and was also key in promoting Georgia O’Keeffe’s career.
  • One Main point:  Alfred Stieglitz was instrumental in developing an appreciation of photography as fine art.






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