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This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.
Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction.
Imagine that you are assigned the following question: , discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America.
Consider the following: How did white control of education reinforce slavery?
(See our handout on conclusions.) Note that what constitutes a good introduction may vary widely based on the kind of paper you are writing and the academic discipline in which you are writing it.
If you are uncertain what kind of introduction is expected, ask your instructor.Of course, a different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it.(See our handout on understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments.) Decide how general or broad your opening should be.Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper.The introduction should capture your readers’ interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper.Your entire essay will be a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end.Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will likely be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point.By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying.Similarly, once you’ve hooked your readers with the introduction and offered evidence to prove your thesis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives.Your introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis.If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of nineteenth-century American slavery.