Lens Essay

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Here is an illustration of what an effective lens essay will look like: In my experience, a successful lens essay implies a certain kind of thought-process that has at least four parts: (1) I read Text A (2) I read Text B (my lens) (3) I re-read Text A and noticed something I didn’t notice before (4) That something turns out to carry consequences for my overall reading of Text A (thesis/argument) (And if you really want to wow your reader, you’d add a final part:) (5) Applying Text B (my lens) in this way also reveals something significant about Text B When I say significance or consequences, I don’t mean that it has to alter the meaning of a text radically; it can be something small but important.

For example, you might find that one element is a lot more important (or a lot less important) to the overall text than you had previously thought.

A critical lens essay is one in which you analyze a quote using one, and often two or more, pieces of literature.

It’s considered an analytical essay because you’re still analyzing literature in the process, but just under a more specific critical lens.

Source X and Source Y might both be using the same tool—the value of meritocracy, say—and come to entirely different conclusions.

Source X argues that standardized test scores provide the most objective way to measure teachers’ performance, but Source Y argues that in-class evaluations provide a larger picture of teachers’ merit.

That just means that if you do run into one, it can be more intimidating.

I’m here to explain the process of writing a critical lens essay that takes away the uncertainty so that you can tackle your topic with confidence.

Text A, a poem, does a better job of communicating the emotional struggles of living with HIV than Text B, a statistical report, because a poem allows readers to identify emotionally with other people while statistics are more abstract and cold.

This third thesis statement does make an argument that connects both texts, but again fails to use one text to tell us something we don’t already know about the other text.


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