Making an Interpretation of one of the essays provided in the paper instructions

Making an Interpretation

Although we are all familiar with the essay form, we may not be comfortable analyzing essays as arguments. However, essays, like all forms of writing, implicitly or explicitly take a stand, make an argument. To grow as critical readers – and thinkers – we must be able to analyze and make our own interpretations of what a given piece of writing is trying to teach us, to persuade us.

For this reason, your first essay in EN105 asks you to develop an interpretation of one of the following essays:

Annie Dillard, “Living Like Weasels”
Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”
Benjamin Franklin, “Arriving at Perfection”
As DiYanni explains in the Introduction to One Hundred Great Essays, an interpretation is not a summary; in fact, interpreting what an essay means can only happen once the reader has not only an accurate grasp of the content but has also gone further to observe details, connect those details, and make inferences about the author’s argument based on those details.

Your interpretation, then, will not be a summary of your selected essay; instead, it will be your argument as to a primary meaning and persuasive purpose of the essay. Like any piece of writing, an essay can have multiple interpretations; thus, your interpretation should be arguable, debatable, forcing you to support it with enough analysis of the text to reveal to your own readers the validity of your interpretation.

Like all of your essays in 105, your essay will need a clear focus (a thesis statement expressing your interpretation), supported by well-developed arguments, a clear organization, and a writing style that is professional and free from error.

Length: Approximately 1,000 words (about 4 pages, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font).

Style/Format: This, as all essays in EN105, should be formatted according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines for scholarship in the humanities:

12 point, Times New Roman font, double-spaced.
1-inch margins top, bottom, and sides.
Although no cover page is needed, you should include your name, my name, the course number/title, and date at the upper left-hand corner of the manuscript.
To view a sample MLA-formatted paper, see p. 252 in Easy Writer.
File format: Please submit your essay in Rich Text Format (RTF). This is available in most word processing programs; it will ensure maximum document accessibility for all operating platforms.

Titles: Include a descriptive title at the beginning of your essay that tips your readers off to your thesis. Do not format your title with quotation marks, boldface, underlining or italics. Quotation marks or underlining are only appropriate if the title borrows words from another source.

Use of essays for future courses: Please understand that your essay may be used—anonymously—as a sample for future EN105 students and instructors unless you expressly request that it not be used. Your work, of course, will only be used for educational purposes.

Grading: See the “Grading and Assessment” content item under Course Information.

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