Midterm Interpretive Project


At the midterm, you will work on a theoretically-inflected interpretation project in order to develop and sustain your ability to navigate theory and theoretically interpret texts. During this month-long interpretive project timeline, your work is graded on process and product. The goal is to encourage you to recursively think about theory, write with & about theory, and reflect and revise your writing and thinking with theory. Your assignment should (a) demonstrate your competence with the theoretical material from the first unit; (b) demonstrate your ability to use theory to make meaningful interpretations of text(s); and (c) demonstrate your ability to craft an insightful written interpretive project that engages with primary, secondary, and theoretical texts and contexts as it develops a thesis-based exposition.

Project Requirements

Every interpretive project needs to conform to the following rules:

  • Every project needs to demonstrate a deep, substantial engagement with the theory of the first and/or second unit, Paulo Freire’s ideas of education, Butler’s theory of gender and its role in subject formation, hooks’ idea of emotion/rage, and/or hooks’ theory about theory as a space for freedom. This engagement should be demonstrated through the varieties of citation at the heart of English studies: quotation, paraphrase, citation and reference.
  • Every project needs to make a significant, substantial interpretive claim about a text. This claim should be advanced and developed through expository methods appropriate to the genre of the interpretive project.
  • Every project needs to be deeply engaged with the texts and the contexts appropriate to its moment. Primary materials (the theory and the text for interpretation) and secondary materials (other writers who consider the theory and the text for interpretation) should be used.

Your project may adopt as its genre the conventions of the essay, an ancient rhetorical trope conveying an interpretive argument to a resisting reader. Or your project may adopt another genre of your choosing: a comic, a website, a powerpoint, a movie. Whatever genre your project adopts, do so consciously: recognize the rhetorical conventions of that genre and use those conventions to persuade your audience. In length, your project should be between 1200 and 2000 words, approximately 5 to 8 pages. If presented in another genre, your project’s scope should be roughly similar. Please consult me for length guidance regarding electronic genre choices.

In addition to the primary materials for your interpretation, you should employ no fewer than three additional secondary sources related to each of your primary materials, meaning that your project should use at least 8 sources to advance its interpretation. In order to ensure that your interpretation stays in focus, please don’t use more than 15 sources.


  • Initial project description and brainstorming period begins Thursday Feb 28.
  • Formal project assignment & discussion Tuesday Mar 5
  • Initial Proposal Due 5% Sunday Mar 17
  • Proposal Conference 5% 3/18-3/19
  • Rough Draft of Interpretive Project Due 5% Sunday Mar 24
  • Rough Draft conference 5% 3/25-3/26
  • Review of another’s draft 5%  3/27
  • Optional conference, 3/28-3/29
  • Follow up conference 5% 4/1-4/2
  • Final Project due 70% 4/3


In order to encourage you to engage in the recursive process of reading, reflecting, and writing, each of the process items contains with it a point value which is all or nothing: meet the deadline and get the free points, or miss the deadline and get none of the points. The process points constitute 25% of the grade of the assignment. A qualitative assessment of the project as submitted is worth 75% of the project’s grade. Late work will lose 3 pts each day it is late, until end of day 4/5 when projects not submitted will receive an F.

Proposal Guidelines

At a minimum, your proposal must consist of

  • A text to be interpreted.  Ideally, a link to the object will be supplied.
  • A concept/set of concepts within Butler’s text(s).  Ideally, quotes will be supplied.
  • An identification of the genre of the project.
  • An identification of the team, if any.

Additionally, you should deliver 1-3 sentence overview your interpretive perspective of the text you’ve chosen and how Butler’s theories provide meaningful insight into the text you’ve selected.

Draft Guidelines

At a minimum, your draft must consist of

  • A thesis, advocating your interpretive position regarding a text.
  • Some moments of analysis of a text
  • Some moments of analysis of a theory

Additionally, your draft should represent 1/3-1/2 of your finished project, indicating the scope of the finished project and its ambitions.  For essays, that means between 400 and 1000 words  as a draft.

Review of Draft Guidelines

Your review should convey your attempt to read/interpret/navigate another’s draft, along with suggestions for improvement.  In order to receive credit, your review must meet the following four rules

  • It must be the only review for a given draft; subsequent reviews will not receive credit
  • It must convey its impression of some positive noteworthy moments of a text
  • It must convey its impression of some noteworthy unproductive moments of a text
  • It must be attached via comments on the original draft in the shared folder no later than 1159 pm on Wednesday 3/27