interpretive essay

LIT 100 Final Project Guidelines and Rubric


The final project for this course is the creation of an interpretive essay.
The ability to interpret written works is a skill that transfers across not only literature, but all disciplines. The ability to critically read and interpret a text and
then logically communicate and support an argument based on what you have read will serve you in many different areas of your life. Throughout this course,
we have specifically applied these skills to literary works in multiple genres. We have also explored ways in which identity and culture shape literature and vice
versa. You will apply what you have learned to complete this final project.
For the final project, you will select a text from the course and write an interpretive essay of that work. You will focus on creating a strong thesis statement
related to your selected text, and then you will build an interpretive essay that supports your thesis statement. You must use appropriate terminology
throughout your essay as you develop your argument in support of your interpretation of the selected text.
Reminder: If you are thinking of choosing poetry as a basis for your interpretive essay, you will have to select two poems with common themes. Contact your
instructor by Module Five if you require assistance.
The project is divided into two milestones, which will be submitted at various points throughout the course to scaffold learning and ensure quality final
submissions. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Three and Five. The final submission is due in Module Seven.
In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:
 Discern basic themes and fundamental elements of literature through critical reading
 Explain the larger significance and importance of literary elements using appropriate terminology
 Explain how literature, culture, and identity shape each other based on fundamental exploration of literary texts across genres
 Write introductions, transitions, and conclusions that logically communicate meaningful interpretations of literary texts


Select a literary work and write an interpretive essay. Apply the process of literary interpretation to create a thesis statement related to your selected text, and
structure an essay that supports your thesis statement.
Specifically, the following critical elements must be addressed:
I. Introduction: In this section you will introduce your chosen text, including the author’s background and context, and your thesis statement.
A. Text: Briefly introduce your chosen text and its author to set the stage for your thesis and provide context for your analysis.

B. Message: Summarize the author’s overall intended message or draw connections between the author’s time period, culture, etc., and the text as
a whole.
C. Rationale: Explain why you chose this text and/or author to provide context for your reader. What in your life or experiences led you to select
this text for your interpretive essay?
D. Thesis Statement: Craft a thesis statement that clearly states your position and argument. This should provide a clear road map for your reader
for what will be presented in the essay.

II. Body: In this section you will create sub-arguments or analyses that support your stated thesis. You should develop no fewer than three supporting
arguments (three body paragraphs), each based on textual evidence. Be sure to use appropriate literary terminology in your arguments.
A. Supporting Arguments: Develop three supporting arguments, beginning with topic sentences, that are based on your critical reading of the text
and that relate back to your thesis statement. Your supporting topics should discern basic themes or elements of the text that support your
B. Topic Sentence Structure: Use topic sentences (your supporting argument statements) that are clear and serve to logically organize the essay.
C. Textual Evidence: Incorporate textual evidence that supports each of your sub-arguments. In other words, what themes or fundamental
elements from the text support your topic sentences?
D. Integration: Integrate your textual evidence in a way that allows each paragraph to flow from topic sentence to explanation of the evidence. In
other words, make sure there is a logical flow from the topic sentence to your specific quote or paraphrase of the text to your explanation of the
quote or paraphrase.
E. Analysis of Textual Evidence: Explain how the evidence you selected from the text supports your sub-arguments and thesis statement, using
appropriate literary terminology In other words, how do the facts or reasons you cited from the text support your thesis?
F. Transitions: Use effective transitions from idea to idea and paragraph to paragraph so the essay flows logically to allow the reader to follow your

III. Conclusion: In this section you will summarize your overall argument and expand on that interpretation, leaving the reader inspired or reflective.
A. Thesis Restatement: Summarize your argument to communicate your overall interpretation of the text, including a restatement of your thesis
B. Context: Explain the larger impact or significance of your argument to literature. In other words, apply your argument to a larger or wider
C. Cultural Significance: How could culture impact interpretations of the text? How could the text impact culture?
D. Identity: Discuss the significance of identity in relation to your argument and the text. In other words, what is the relationship between this
piece of literature and identity?

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