Interpretative Essay

Interpretative Essay Description American Literature:Interpretive Essay GuidelinesWrite a 5-7 page interpretive essay on “True Grit” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” An interpretive essay presents your vision of a literary work. A shaping and creative form, it offers an interpretation of the literary work, a particular understanding of a literary text from a specific perspective. One way to grasp the goal of an interpretation is to compare it to what it is not. It is not a report on the fundamentals of genre, narration, setting, plot, character, and theme. Assume your reader knows the text inside and out, so that there is no need to retell the basic facts of the story. Retelling what is common knowledge to any well-informed reader will earn you a failing grade.  It is not a review that evaluates the success of the work (i.e. how good or bad it is), discusses how boring or exciting it was, or shares in any way how the text makes you feel. There is a place for literary judgment, but this is not it. Stick to interpretation. Formulate an interesting and debatable claim, and then explicate and defend that claim with close analyses of individual passages. Successful interpretive essays, especially of this length, usually focus in on quite narrow topics like “Sex in a Small Town: The Scandals of Love in Edgar Lee Masters’ The Spoon River Anthology.” It is better to be deep and exhaustive on a small topic than shallow and sketchy on a large one. Your essay will be graded on form and content—on what you say and how you say it. It will be graded on both the quality of the writing and the quality of the ideas. An effective academic essay is written in clear and grammatically correct sentences and includes five basic parts:1. An Introduction that captures attention, leads directly into the topic and ends with a thesis.2. A Thesis: a one sentence claim that summarizes the paper (usually, the meaning of the piece—the human truth that it communicates)3. A Set of Main Ideas supporting the thesis, stated in topic sentences, and developed in unified, developed, and coherent body paragraphs full of evidence from the text (i.e. quotations that are analyzed and explicated). State the main idea in the first sentence of the paragraph. I repeat: begin every paragraph with a topic sentence that states the main little idea that you are proposing. Make it clear and make it distinct from the other main ideas.4. Supporting Details from the text that supports these main ideas (topic sentences),including quotations, as well as explication—explanations and analyses of those quotations. o Support the main idea. Using evidence and argument prove that what you say of the text is true. You must paraphrase and quote from the text to support your ideas. But don’t over-quote to fill space and don’t quote to support the obvious. The general rule is: the greater the peculiarity of your idea—i.e. the less it is obvious—the more you have to quote and explain to persuade your reader. o Explicate the main idea. Explain or unfold the idea implicit in the passage you are quoting, making it clear, believable, and interesting with commentary. Literary study is the study of language. We are interested not only in what the text says but also in how it says it. Ask yourself how the text communicates the idea. Explicate your main ideas by describing the means through which the idea is conveyed.5. A Conclusion that sums up the main ideas, draws conclusions or explains its implications, and provides closure.The Writing Process A good paper is written over time; it simply cannot be done in one sitting. The process can be overwhelming, so it is important to understand the seven basic phases of this process: 1. Pick a topic.2. Collect a corpus—a set of textual passages.3. Close read, take notes, think.4. Develop a hypothesis—a thesis.5. Draft an argument in support of that thesis: a. a set of main ideas that support the thesis; and b. specific details that support each main idea6. Revise the paper7. Edit and format the paper.Formatting Your Paper1) Formatting. The paper should be typed (with dark ink on white, unwrinkled paper); printed in 12 point New Times Roman font only; formatted with one-inch margins; double-spaced in the essay; stapled in the left hand corner.2) No Cover Sheets! Please do not encumber your paper with fancy plastic covers and pretty fonts. There is no cover page necessary.