An issue of interpretation” is some kind of detail or theme in the text that rai

An issue of interpretation” is some kind of detail or theme in the text that raises questions for us and that we need to look into more closely in order to understand the whole. To find an issue of interpretation, you need to be very attentive to the details and read the text more than . Choose one of these three texts and identify an issue of interpretation that affects the way we view the whole text.
Each excerpt describes a place and the people who lived there. As examples of ethnographic writing, each creates a distance between a “self” (the author and their readers) and an “other” (the people described in the text). Generally, ethnography is interesting because, by describing what makes people “other,” it calls attention to the things that define the author’s own community, in their own mind.
Some general questions to keep in mind: what makes the people described different? Is it their bodies? Their religion? The way they live their lives? What’s at stake when difference is located in these different areas? What does it tell us about the way each author is defining their own community? Use these broad questions to help you drill down on the specific issue of interpretation you’d like to focus on. That issue could be a tension, an inconsistency, an aberration from the ethnographic pattern—whatever in the text “grabs” you.
Please read the text you select multiple times and annotate it. Annotating the text will help identify an issue of interpretation and go beyond summarizing what the text says and instead focus on what the text does.
For your essay, identify one key issue to explore and resolve. Formulate the issue as an open-ended, debatable, level 3 question that you can address fully in 1000-1500 words. Answer the question by taking a stand developed and supported by reasoning based upon analysis of the text. Acknowledge alternative views, and state your claim and your main reasons for the claim in your thesis.
HOW TO sTRUCTURE THE ESSAY:
udience and Tone:
Envision a reader who doesn’t know the assignment, who is smart–a version of yourself usually–who has a question, a conundrum, a confusion, or a concern about an issue, a debate, or a controversy. Articulate that concern, and address it fully. Imagine a reader who NEEDS to hear what this essay has to say, and write to that reader so that the reader can hear it, see it, understand it, connect with what you are saying, and understand better at the end of the journey, than they did at the beginning.
Write as a scholar-in-training to an audience of intelligent, well-informed people who do not necessarily know this material and who may have a different perspective on it than you do, or at least might not have thought of your thesis before reading your paper.
Engage your readers in the issue and convince them of your thesis and the significance (value) of the issue and your argument.
Assume that they are expecting you to follow the norms of academic writing and citation and to make the context of your paper clear.
Write in an authoritative tone and follow a formal essay structure.
Thesis and Formal Essay Structure:
Write a formal essay structured around an issue (a question/concern/conundrum/confusion) and the thesis that takes a stand on the issue.
An MMW essay, like other formal essays, addresses an open-ended, debatable issue. In MMW, we call this issue a “level 3 question.” A level 3 question raises an issue about which there are different viewpoints possible, meaning that the question cannot be definitively answered and the issue is contestable. A contestable issue is one that can be addressed through scholarly research and analysis of texts. In other words, the issue is not a philosophical or theoretical issue beyond the scope of this course, and about which one could debate endlessly (level 4), and the thesis is not a statement of established fact or understanding that needs no discussion (levels 1 and 2)
In the essay itself, you may or may not state the question explicitly as a question, but you do need to establish the issue in your introduction, and state the thesis explicitly.
The thesis answers the open-ended, arguable, level 3 question you ask, implicitly or explicitly, in your introduction and lays out the structure of your argument, creating the reader’s expectations for what is to come in the essay by doing the following:
Acknowledges an alternative view of the subject—the opposition (an “although” point about the subject)
Refers to the subject of the question
Makes an assertion about the subject (your position on the issue)
Provides sufficient reasons (often 3 or more) to support the assertion, listed in the most logical and persuasive order for your argument and forecasting the order they will be addressed in the paper.
Here’s a formula you can use to guide you in writing your thesis and structuring the whole paper:
Thesis Sentence = Opposition + Subject + Assertion + Reasons
Or TS = O + S + A + R
Your thesis can be one or more sentences, depending upon what you want to say about your topic. The thesis should also be historically grounded and adhere to the requirements of the specific assignment. If you have questions or concerns about the thesis or using the formula, please consult with your TA.
Here is an example from the sciences:
Although some argue that it is too risky to use gene drive technology to eradicate the mosquito that transmits malaria, the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. The crisis caused by the sharp increase in malaria worldwide is real and demands an immediate response. Gene-drive technology designed to stop malaria is available, cost-effective, and ready to be released in controlled tests. It is also the only currently viable option.
Or another version in 1 sentence:
Although some argue that it is too risky to use gene drive technology to eradicate the mosquito that transmits malaria, the potential benefits for public health far outweigh the risks, politically, financially, socially, and ethically.
Here is an example from MMW 11:
Although the Hebrew creation story told in Genesis is often interpreted as a literal account of how God created the world in 7 days, a mythical-historical interpretation provides greater insight not only into early Hebrew culture and other creation myths, but also evokes the wonder of creation in ways that fit with contemporary science and current understandings of the way the world works.
Or in 1 sentence:
Although the Hebrew creation story told in Genesis is often interpreted as a literal account of how God created the world in 7 days, a mythical-historical interpretation has more explanatory and evocative power historically, culturally, and spiritually.
Note: Even though the introduction and thesis usually come first in the final draft of the paper, many writers find it helps to write these after they have a rough draft, and then revise and re-order the paper accordingly. Many times writers find it necessary to revise the introduction, thesis, and structure of the paper multiple times before the essay is complete. We often don’t know what we think or exactly what point we want to make until we have written at least one draft. Be patient with your ideas and let them unfold as you write.
Significance: This is the “so what” argument of your paper: How does your essay contribute to a better understanding of the issue you address? Why does it matter that the issue be addressed and resolved as well as possible?
Your answer to this question is your paper’s significance. It’s your reason for writing the entire paper. If you can’t determine significance, then you most likely do not have an argument yet. Significance does not refer only to the significance of the issue in general, but most importantly to the significance of your thesis, your argument
The “although” part of your thesis introduces the counterargument/alternative view with which you are engaging and gives you the context for significance: unless someone could disagree with your assertion, you do not have an argument. If someone could disagree with your assertion, then you have an argument. To determine significance, ask yourself why it’s important that we understand your assertion: what value are you bringing to the discussion?
You can discuss the issue’s historical significance or its contemporary significance or both, as long as you relate it to your historical argument, which is the primary focus of the essay.
Instead, you are looking to identify issues based on questions that arise for your understanding of the material. Look for connections, contradictions, questions, confusions, and conflicts in either the materials, your understanding, or others’ understandings (may be expressed in texts or as common views).
In general, an argument is significant if it does one or more of the following:
Fills in an omission or gap
Provides a new outlook beyond a common or standard view
Combines previous knowledge to provide a more comprehensive view
Dispel false assumptions, stereotypes, or incorrect knowledge
Bridges the divide between polarized views
To go back to the example of a thesis in the sciences, here the significance is filling in a gap (no other solution works):
Although some argue that it is too risky to use gene drive technology to eradicate the mosquito that transmits malaria, the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. The crisis caused by the sharp increase in malaria worldwide is real and demands an immediate response. Gene-drive technology designed to stop malaria is available, cost-effective, and ready to be released in controlled tests. It is also the only currently viable option.
In the example of a thesis from MMW 11, the significance is a combination of combining previous knowledge, dispelling false assumptions, and bridging the divide:
Although the Hebrew creation story told in Genesis is often interpreted as a literal account of how God created the world in 7 days, a mythical-historical interpretation provides greater insight not only into early Hebrew culture and other creation myths, but also evokes the wonder of creation in ways that fit with contemporary science and current understandings of the way the world works.
Titles and Introductions
Provide titles and introductions that engage the reader and make them want to go on the journey, give them a map for the journey, and make the value–the significance–of the trip clear.
Title: The title is the first thing your reader sees. Make it count. Provide a title that focuses on the main point you are making about the issue and stimulates interest in it. Here are examples based on the thesis examples:
Gene-Drive Technology: The Best Solution for Eradicating Malaria
In Defense of a Mythical-Historical Interpretation of Genesis
You could also be more creative with titles. If you have a creative title, consider adding a subtitle to give your reader direction and give clarity to your creativity.
Introduction: Your introduction engages your audience in thinking about an issue and shows them your stand on the issue. It introduces the issue and announces your argument. It needs to be at least a paragraph and include the thesis. The issue being addressed in the paper needs to be clearly stated, either as an explicit question or a clearly implied one. Include the following elements in whatever order works best for the flow of your argument:
Frame the issue in an interesting way that shows its significance–the “so what”
Introduce texts you will be analyzing
Pose an open-ended, arguable, contestable, level 3 question–the issue your essay will address
Answer it with a thesis
Organization, Counterarguments, Paragraph Structure, Reasons, and Evidence
Organize your essay around the reasons presented in the thesis and introduction, acknowledging and responding to other viewpoints, and supporting the reasons with compelling evidence.
Overall Organization: Organize the body of the paper with one or more paragraphs on the counterargument and rebuttal and on each of the supporting reasons provided in the thesis. Discuss the reasons in the order presented in the thesis.
Write a topic sentence for each paragraph that makes a point about each reason, tying it explicitly to your thesis.
Analyze and use specific evidence from text/s to support each reason and illustrate your point: summarize, paraphrase, and quote, as needed, citing the texts for all evidence you draw from them. Explain how the evidence supports the point you’re making for each reason.
Use transitions to guide the reader so they can easily follow the flow of your argument:
To connect the thesis to the supporting reasons
To connect the reasons to the textual evidence
To mark the transitions between argument, counterargument, and rebuttal
If you want to call attention to something, put it at the beginning or end or both. If your attention starts to flag, so will your readers’. What can you do to engage both of you and keep the momentum going?
Look at the first and last sentences of each paragraph. Are they engaging? On point?
Counterargument and Rebuttal: To have a sound argument, we need to consider other viewpoints. This is called the “counterargument” in formal essays. In MMW 12, we are writing interpretive papers based on course-assigned texts. As a result, the counterargument and rebuttal are less developed than they would be in subsequent MMW courses that require academic research and identifying an issue in the scholarship.
In general, in 12, we are reading “against the grain,” interpreting what the text is doing and why. The thesis offers an interpretation based on a rhetorical analysis of the author, audience, context, purpose, and genre. The “opposition,” or counterargument, is a different interpretation of the text, often a surface reading of the text that takes it at face value. In MMW 12, the counterargument and rebuttal are built into the thesis as the “opposition” and “assertion” (the O and the A parts of the thesis).
Depending upon your argument, you may want to devote a body paragraph or two to your counterargument and rebuttal, but in MMW 12, it’s often enough to discuss alternative interpretations in the introduction, and sometimes in the conclusion. Please consult with your TA about your particular paper.
Reasons and Evidence:
Provide sufficient reasons to support your assertion. In many cases, a well-defined claim can be supported by approximately three reasons. If you want a guideline, three is a good number to consider when developing your reasons, but the number of reasons depends on your assertion. What do you need to explain to fully support your assertion? Do you need to narrow down your assertion? Broaden it? Extend your reasons? Narrow your reasons? Group some reasons together? The options are endless, and there is no formula or rule that will always work. The number three is a general guideline, but the right number depends upon what you are arguing and what is necessary to persuade your audience. There is no magic number. Please consult with your TA about any questions.
What’s most important is that your assertion and reasons work together logically, and that your essay follows through upon the reasoning you lay out in the thesis statement.
Provide convincing evidence for each reason, and make the connections between reasons and evidence clear.
What textual evidence do you have for your reasons? To make a convincing argument, your reasons and evidence need to be persuasive, trustworthy, and logical. How do you determine that? How do you integrate your evidence into the flow of the paragraphs? How do you make the connections clear between the reasons and evidence?
Focusing your topic specifically enough that it can be supported adequately given the time, space (page length), and requirements of the assignment is key. If your topic is too broad or too narrow, you will need to refocus it. Please see “How to Narrow Down and Focus Topics for MMW” for specific ways to address common issues in formulating a topic. This document gives examples of many common errors in reasoning and how to correct them.
Once you have an appropriately focused topic, you can use the STAR criteria to evaluate your evidence: Is the evidence Sufficient, Typical, Accurate, and Relevant?
Adjust your claims, reasoning, and evidence so that they support one another in a clear, balanced, and logical way.
Conclusions:
Write conclusions that leave the reader with both a sense of resolution and or momentum to carry the work forward in whatever way makes sense for the topic/genre/situation.
End your essay persuasively. The conclusion needs to briefly and non-repetitively summarize the point of your essay, elaborate on the implications and significance of your thesis, and suggest direction for further study or action. The conclusion should be at least 1 paragraph.
Introduce the issue in a way that engages the audience for your essay. Make a claim that answers the question. Acknowledge other possible viewpoints, and lay out your supporting reasons for your claim in the order you will be discussing the reasons in the essay. In the body of your essay, give detailed, specific examples from the text, quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing the text to support your reasoning. Cite the texts you use in MLA format, and provide a Works Cited page.
If appropriate for developing your argument, you can use approved sources for background information and context, and you can relate your argument to other material studied in the course.

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