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.