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SPAN 3110: Advanced Conversation & Composition I

Things to Consider When Picking a Topic

Look at the specifications for the essay to understand what is expected before picking a topic.

Is your topic related to the Hispanic world? This is a requirement for the Ensayo Académico.

Do you feel strongly about your topic? Are invested in it? It would make it easier for you to support your arguments if you feel strongly about your topic or if you are invested in it.

Check if there are sufficient articles available in Spanish and English about your topic.

Is the vocabulary you need to talk about your topic easy for you? Is it out of your reach or very technical?

Check if the articles present strong arguments that you can use in your paper.

Is your topic one that someone can strongly agree and strongly disagree with? (The Ensayo Académico requires a topic that lends itself well to an argumentative paper.)

Will you be able to present three strong arguments (that you can elaborate on) on your topic? The Ensayo Académico needs to be 5-7 pages long. 

Narrowing a Topic

1. Begin with a Big Idea

2. Imagine many different questions.  What would these people ask about the Big Idea?

  • People from country X ?
  • People from the 18th, 19th…Century ?
  • Doctors, lawyers, sociologists, teachers… ?
  • Latinos, women, the aged, teenagers, or other special populations ?
  • Communists, Marxists, Catholics, Jews… ?

3. Presearch a few of the most interesting questions. Look them up in Google, and Wikipedia and see what general data you can uncover.  

4. Narrow the possibilities according to

  •    What fits the assignment
  •    Which topics are researchable / how hard is it to find information
  •    What is INTERESTING.  Don't bore your audience or yourself!
  •    What flares your passion for inquiry 

5. Now, you probably have a topic!

Some suggestions from Purdue

Another way into subtopics: Visuwords creates a mindmap of related terms related to the one you type in.