Everyone wants to make an argument that matters—literarily, artistically, historically, politically, socially, culturally… the list goes on and on. For undergraduates just beginning their academic career, however, this is no easy task. The “so what?” factor is always looming over us, whether we’re writing a ten- to twelve-page research paper during freshman year or a several hundred-page thesis.

What’s the significance of my argument? What does it add to the scholarly conversation? How is what I’m saying new and exciting, not just to a scholarly audience, but also to the world? Orienting tackles all these questions. It’s the art of contextualizing your argument in some broader sense that makes it fresh, meaningful, and perhaps even vital. But orienting, although its proportions can be gigantic—in some cases changing the world and our understanding of it—is actually a very delicate process. Orienting pervades almost every aspect of the well-written essay. Some common aspects include the orienting of key terms and context, the motive of the argument, and an extension of the thesis. But for all this theoretical ideating on what framing is and where it surfaces, it’s easiest to see how and where orienting works when it’s in action.

Example 1: Modeling the Model Minority: Does the Immigrant Health Paradox Apply to Asian Migrants’ Mental Health?  by Diana Chao

Example 2: Thaw-Era Portrayals of Mental Illness: Realist or Socialist? by Leora Eisenberg