Option #1: Lens Essay: Past and Present

Option #1: Lens Essay: Past and Present

Our course readings span the globe from Ancient Egypt to Shakespeare’s England.  Pick one of the texts from the list above and use it as a way of reading a present day text (painting, song, poem, story, movie, etc.  Make sure you anchor your reading and thinking about each text in a particular moment or situation.  Your analysis should discuss the ways in which lines (historical, cultural, political, etc) can be drawn between the two texts.  How does the ‘older’ text help shape a reading of the ‘present day text?’  Besure to address what is interesting about the connections between the two texts as wellas offer your interpretation on what those connections say about the world and/or art. Pre­Assignment

Pick a passage or two in each of your texts and complete a close reading of each.  Gather necessary background information: publication history, any formal connections between the two texts, country of origin, medium, etc.  Be sure as you work on each that you’re keeping track of your observations and thoughts.  Make sure you frame the relationship between the two texts and ask a series of questions about each as well as generated through their pairing.


You should present consider the relationship between the two texts and specifically how the historically earlier one informs or connects with the second.

Option #2: Reading from Multiple Perspectives

Throughout the semester, we have approached each texts from a variety of perspectives: for example, at times we have limited our focus to the language on the page; while in other moments, we have considered the historical environment from which the text emerges, among other methods.  Pick a passage in your selected text and interpret it through multiple critical lenses.  You might choose to use a close reading, historical, socio­economic, autobiographical, psychoanalytic, etc perspective to open up your interpretation of the text.  You don’t have to use all approaches in your paper; however, you should pick two and, first, interpret the text through

each respective approach and then offer an analysis of what is at stake in each type of

interpretation and/or why the particular lenses you’ve selected suit the text.



Pick a passage that you find particularly interesting or engaging in one of the texts listed above. Depending on which lenses you select, you may need to do some outside research.  If you are reading the texts through a historical lens, it is necessary that you know what is going on in the period and area in which the text is written.  If doing research, be sure to consider the type of source you are using and make sure you consult more than one source on the same subject.  As you work through each lens, make sur you make note of the ‘product’ so that you can consider the ‘yield’ of each type of reading for the final step of the assignment.


In a three­page, double spaced paper, you should present two readings of the same passage.  You must contextualize each lens (ie how does the lens work? how does it color the text?) and then walk the reader through your use of each lens.  Once you have ‘read’ the text through each lens, you must         offer some reflection and consideration about what is at stake in each lens and why thelenses you’ve selected are appropriate for that text.


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