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Paz/Painter Essay
 
Image Analysis
 
Introduction:
 
            This essay asks you analyze a painting by a twentieth-century Mexican artist and provide an interpretation of the image in light of key concepts from Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude .   In order to be successful with this essay you will need to identify key themes/ideas from Paz's work and then explain how the painting you are analyzing exemplifies, contradicts, or complicates those ideas.   You are interpreting the painting as being involved in a "dialogue" with the ideas conveyed in The Labyrinth of Solitude .
 
Steps towards a successful essay:
 
  1. Choose ONE of the paintings assigned for this essay. Any of the assigned paintings will work; choose the ONE that interests you the most. You can find the images in a PowerPoint presentation by clicking HERE.
  2. Analyze the image. Consult the Dartmouth Writing Program's web page on writing an art history paper: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/humanities/arthistory.shtml .   Follow their suggestions.
  3. Prewriting.   Write two or three paragraphs in which you propose an interpretation of the painting. What do you think this painting is trying to do?   How does it do it? What does it "mean"?   You will not be submitting these paragraphs for a grade; they are for your benefit.
  4. Review your notes on Paz.   Which ideas, concepts, and discussions relate to your interpretation of the painting? Identify several key quotes and jot them down (with page numbers).   Then write two or three paragraphs in which you discuss how your painting relates to Paz's idea(s).   You will not submit these paragraphs for a grade either.   They are for your benefit.
  5. Develop a thesis.   Create a thesis that presents an argument based upon what you have seen in the painting.
  6. Develop your thesis.   Consider how your thesis about the painting relates to Paz's thesis/claim.
  7. Develop your thesis. Write a thesis that argues for your understanding of the relationship between the painting you chose and Paz's argument/thesis/claim.
  8. Write your essay in 1000-1600 words.
  9. Revise.
  10. Revise.
  11. Revise.
  12. Attach the "Essay Grading Rubric" to the final page of your essay.
 
Evaluation:
 
An "A" essay will:
 
  • Be controlled by a clear, precise, well-defined thesis, sophisticated in both statement and insight.
  • Show a command of the interpretive tasks (both with the painting and Paz) presenting ideas that are original, often insightful, going beyond ideas discussed in lecture and class.
  • Support that thesis with specific, unusually perceptive observations related to the formal aspects of the painting.
  • Develop a sophisticated, complete, and appropriate interpretation of at least one key theme or idea from The Labyrinth of Solitude .
  • Be well organized with clear, arguable topic sentences, and smooth transitions between coherent, well-structured paragraphs.
  • Contain no more than one or two minor proofreading or syntactical errors.
 
A "B" essay will:
 
  • Have a clear, precise, well-defined thesis.
  • Present a reasonable interpretation of both the painting and a key idea (or ideas) from Paz's text.
  • Support that thesis with specific observations related to the formal aspects of the painting.
  • Develop an appropriate interpretation of at least one key theme or idea from The Labyrinth of Solitude .
  • Be organized with clear topic sentences and transitions between coherent, well-structured paragraphs.
  • Contain some mechanical difficulties or stylistic problems; may make occasional problematic word choices or awkward syntax errors; may make a few spelling or punctuation errors or cliché.
 
A "C" essay will:
 
  • Have a general thesis or strong controlling idea.
  • Present a shallow, vague, or marginally coherent interpretation of both the painting and a key idea (or ideas) from Paz's text.
  • Only partially develop the argument with shallow analysis; some ideas and generalizations undeveloped or unsupported; treatment of painting is superficial or only descriptive (not interpretive).
  • Identify an appropriate theme or idea from The Labyrinth of Solitude .
  • Contain some awkward transitions; some brief, weakly unified or undeveloped paragraphs; arrangement may not appear entirely natural; contains extraneous information.
  • Be characterized by more frequent wordiness, several unclear or awkward sentences, imprecise use of words or over-reliance on passive voice, and/or one or two major grammatical errors (subject-verb agreement, comma splice, etc.).
 
A "D" essay will:
 
  • Have no thesis or one that is vague and/or irrelevant.
  • Present a shallow, vague, or marginally coherent interpretation of both the painting and a key idea (or ideas) from Paz's text.
  • Ramble, or tend to digress from one idea to another with no coherent presentation of ideas.
  • Fail to present an idea from The Labyrinth of Solitude , or merely drops a quote from the text into the essay without presenting any evidence of real comprehension.
  • Lack unity and structure in its presentation.
  • Be characterized by some major grammatical or proofreading errors (subject-verb agreement; sentence fragments); language marred by clichés, colloquialisms, repeated inexact word choices, etc.
 
An "F" essay could be one that is:
 
  • Plagiarized.
  • Excessively short.
  • Completely incoherent.
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