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Here I modify their basic template (They say ________.I say ________.), to create lens essay-specific templates to help you get started: The author of the lens text lays out a helpful framework for understanding instances of ________ in the target text.
In each case, make sure to discuss what the lens text reveals about the target text (or vice versa).
Use the lens text’s vocabulary and logical framework to examine the target text, but make sure to be clear about where ideas in the paper are coming from (the lens text, the target text, your own interpretation etc.) so the reader doesn’t become confused.
With these ideas in mind, go back and read the target text carefully, through the theoretical lens, asking yourself the following questions: What are the main components of the lens text and what are their complementary parts in the target text?
How can I apply the lens author’s theoretical vocabulary or logic to instances in the target text?
Then introduce the target text and its specific themes or events you will be addressing in your analysis.
These introductions of texts and themes should lead into some kind of thesis statement.
According the to Brandeis Writing Program Handbook, a valuable lens essay will “grapple with central ideas” of the lens text, rather than dealing with isolated quotes that may or may not be indicative of the author’s argument as a whole.
As such, it’s important to make sure you truly understand and can articulate the author’s main points before proceeding to the target text.
Alternatively, your analysis may call the validity of the arguments of the lens piece into question, extend the arguments of the lens text, or provoke some other reevaluation of the two texts.
Either way, you will be generating a critical “dialogue between texts.” Since you will eventually want to hone in on points of commonality and discord between the two texts, the order and manner in which you read them is crucial.