Your assignment for this paper is to interpret one text written by one of the following authors mentioned in our reading thus far and analyze is using close reading techniques. You should do some research to help you choose a piece of writing by one of the following authors:
Mercy Otis Warren
Judith Sargent Murray
Julia Ward Howe
Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Locate a contradiction, complexity, or ambiguity in the piece of writing you choose and explain how and why the author uses it to construct the gender and/or racial identities of her characters (you may include the narrator in your analysis). By focusing exclusively on specific details of a single reading, you can reveal how the piece “works” at the local level, how an author’s specific language choices contribute to the way a text makes meaning.
You may integrate outside textual evidence drawn from researching the historical context of the author’s work, however, all literary interpretations of the text should be your own (in other words, don’t use someone else’s close reading essay to inform your own work).
Your essay should be approximately 700-800 words (3-4 pages, double-spaced/not including works cited page), and should follow MLA style.
GOALS OF THE ESSAY
Identify a feature in the text that engages you, perplexes you, makes you think—and formulate a thesis that explains how this feature shapes the piece’s gender and/or racial representations. Your thesis should be original, non-obvious, and genuinely interesting; it must take an arguable stance with real stakes, one that is not plainly factual but that requires a defense against other points of view. Look back to your reading notes from when you first read the text—this is always a good place to begin locating an idea that can fuel an essay. While your initial reaction to a word, line, or set of lines may not be immediately paper-worthy, it can be the springboard to an excellent thesis. Some questions you might ask yourself to help you get some ideas going are:
What did you first think was the gender and/or race of the speaker’s addressee? What specific words, phrases, etc. led you to believe this?
Is there a part of the reading that troubles or confuses you in its relation to identity representation?
How is the speaker’s gender and/or race conveyed?
What are the meanings of the words that get repeated or receive special emphasis because of rhyme (remember that rhymes need not occur at line breaks), location within the line (beginning and end are especially emphatic), or typography (capital letter, italics, etc.)?
How can a contemporary audience connect to, or understand gender and/or race in the historical time in which this piece of writing was composed? How might the writing influence this understanding?
HELPFUL TIPS TO REMEMBER
All interpretations require evidence; all evidence requires analysis. Be absolutely clear on the distinction between evidence (concrete facts, examples, and details; the data) and analysis (explanation of how that data is meaningful and contributes to your overall interpretation). Your evidence must be drawn from the piece of writing you have chosen; you may not refer to the other pieces of writing. Please note: it is only rarely that a piece of evidence can be fully analyzed in a single sentence.
Structure the essay according to an argument. Avoid simply describing your chosen text or structuring your paper in the order of your observations. On the other hand, avoid “five-paragraph form,” which offers a sequence of evidence to prove the same point by reiteration. While analysis should always tie back to the thesis, a paper should proceed according to logically developmental “steps,” presenting, analyzing, and connecting While you’ll want to ground your reader in a context, this paper should mainly consist of close reading— analysis of specific words, phrases, images, lines, and metrics.
Orient your reader. Address your essay to readers who have read the author’s work but not recently or in depth and who may not remember this particular piece. You will need to orient them with appropriate reminders (quick summaries of narrative context, characters and their relationships, location in the sequence of poems if relevant), always making sure those explanations serve a purpose (not just summary for its own sake). Never assume (1) that readers know what to look for, (2) that they see the same details in the same way as you, and (3) that they draw the same conclusions as you. Rather, persuade your readers of your claims through skillful analysis.
Employ effective, active verbs by eliminating your use of “to be.” By encouraging you to avoid using all forms of the verb “to be,” including am, is, are, was, were, be, been, and being, this simple tip invigorates your style with stronger, more descriptive verbs as well as strikes the passive voice out of your prose. It will also help you avoid introducing ideas with empty phrases such as “there is” and “there are.” Ideally, you will develop an awareness of your verb use while you draft and write, rather than translating sentences out of empty or passive forms once the draft is done. Check out this resource for more information on passive voice: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/passive-voice/ (Links to an external site.)
Document quotations using MLA in-text citation method. Format textual evidence (quotes, paraphrased & summarized material) using MLA citations. Quotation from poems and plays should follow MLA conventions, as explained here: https://writingcommons.org/article/quoting-plays-and-poetry-in-mla/ (Links to an external site.)
For help finding credible sources, use the following sources to assist:
CCC LIBRARY GUIDE
Women’s Literature Library Guide (Links to an external site.)
AZ LIBRARY DATABASES
history database button
YOUR PAPER MUST ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS:
Paper should be a minimum of five pages.
Paper must adhere to the following MLA paper format (Links to an external site.)
Grammar and spelling counts.
Must include at least 5 credible sources
Clear pattern of organization.
Paper sticks to the point
Voice is unique and consistent
Includes properly cited in-text and Works Cited citations, according to MLA
PROMPT: Your assignment for this paper is to interpret one text written by one o