Write a paper of between one and two pages in length, in which you interpret a work in its context. These works will be chosen from the approved lists below. These papers must be submitted in correct MLA format; font and size, margins, headers, etc., must all conform to MLA specifications. Sources used for this paper must be academically-appropriate for a college-level assignment. You must include at least one direct quotation (not just a paraphrase). All sources must be properly referenced with both in-text citations and a Works Cited list. Note that failure to cite sources at all will result in a zero.
- Swift: “A Modest Proposal”
Format of the Paper (separate paragraph for each section)
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I. Description of the work (four to six sentences):
- Type of work (architecture, sculpture, painting; prose, poetry; instrumental music, chamber music, orchestral music)
- Size and scale of work (This is relative to medium. Thirty square feet would be tiny for a building, but quite large for a painting. A one-hundred-page novel is fairly short, but a one-hundred page poem would be quite long.)
- Formal properties (symmetrical or asymmetrical; highly organized or chaotic; number of divisions, parts, or sections)
- Sensory properties (if a painting, what kinds of colors are used; if a musical work, what kinds of instruments and sounds; if a literary work, what rhyme, meter, tone, etc.)
II. Context of the work (four to six sentences):
- Socio-historical context (What was going on in the world in which the artist lived? What important political events, conflicts, or social issues inform the work?)
- Biographical context (What details of the artist’s own life experience helped shape the work? NOTE: Do not engage in lengthy biographical summary—this should be a sentence or two at most.)
- Stylistic context (How was the work influenced by other works? How does it represent or react against an established style or movement?)
- Philosophical context (How does the work reflect the worldview of its time?)
III. Interpretation of the work (four to six sentences):
- Using the descriptive and contextual information you supplied in sections I and II, interpret the work—discuss its meaning, its impact, its quality.
- Support your interpretation with clear references to the work itself.
- Refer to the “Principles of Interpretation” for guidance (see the Writing Assignments module).
- Important: If you are writing about a literary work, do not summarize the plot. Plot summary is not interpretation.