Section 14: Introducing Your Interpretive Argument

Skills Focus: Sources Integrating quotations

Skills Focus: Organization Topic sentences

HW: Draft an Introduction Write a provisional introduction for your essay. Below are some suggestions
  1. Consider your audience
    • Address your essay to readers who are well-informed and intelligent, but possibly unfamiliar with the work you’re discussing.
    • Early in your introduction, orient your audience by incorporating a brief one- or two-sentence synopsis of the short story, film, or TV episode so that readers unfamiliar with it can follow your argument
  2. Establish a clear focus and motive for your essay
    • Describe the particular aspect of Pygmalion, “Twin Study,” or Dear White People your essay will explore. This should be a pattern of details, tension, or ambiguity that you find surprising, puzzling, or striking, a feature whose meaning is open to interpretation, yet is crucial to your understanding of the work as a whole.
    • Explain why the meaning of this detail is debatable, perhaps by noting an alternative, such as a “preliminary understanding” of this feature of the work, a plausible but superficial view, one that your own interpretation improves on.
    • Consider presenting this interpretive issue in the form of a question, one that is genuine (not rhetorical) and open-ended (rather than yes-no) question—the question raised by the element you’re examining, a question to which your thesis will be a plausible answer

  3. End your introduction by responding to the question you’ve raised: state your thesis or insight, presenting it as a deeper understanding or clarification of the issue.
  4. Post your introduction to the student writing section of the course website.