Analytical/Interpretive Essay on Emplumada OR Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Analytical/Interpretive Essay on

Emplumada OR Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (6-7 pages + Works Cited page)

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6-7 page paper on one of the two texts we have read most recently: either Lorna Dee Cervantes’s poetry collection Emplumada or Anna Deavere Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.  There were Canvas Discussions on both texts that you should have contributed to, and you may develop your paper topic based on one of those, or you may take a new perspective, or work from a question the text raises for you, for example: Why does Cervantes use so much bird imagery in her poetry?  Or, why does Smith include so many characters who were not present in Los Angeles at the time of the rioting/uprising?  Anything that strikes you as disturbing, interesting, mysterious, can be a starting point—even the smallest moment in a text can open up larger issues worth exploring.  Following the general requirements for the paper (below) are some suggested questions for Emplumada, and more detailed different instructions for papers on Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.  For papers on Twilight, I think it works better to begin with a selection of 3-4 characters to focus on and to allow your thesis to grow from an in-depth comparison of their experiences and perspectives.


The requirements for the paper are:

  • If writing about Emplumada, you must have a guiding QUESTION for your essay. This should be an open-ended How? Or Why? question rather than one that can be answered “yes” or “no.”
  • While your question/analysis may start from a small observation, your paper must move from the particular to the more global and make a claim (your thesis) about the poet or playwright’s PURPOSE in writing her work.
  • The body paragraphs of your essay must be based on Textual Evidence—quotes and/or references to specific actions and/or language in the book you have chosen to write about. To make best use of those, practice introducing them by explaining the context from which they were drawn and following them with interpretation of what you see/understand from those quotes.
  • You must use at least TWO outside sources from the EVC library to deepen your understanding of the issue you are exploring—this can be historical information, biographical information about the author (or a character from the play), or literary criticism (that is, a scholar’s interpretation of an aspect of the text). Feel free to use material you may have gathered for your presentation and/or the Guide to Twilight: Los Angeles and the film, both posted under the Week 10 module.  I highly recommend the Biography in Context and/or Literary Reference Center databases available through the EVC Library webpage and will demonstrate in class how to access and use those.
  • You must use MLA citation format both for the passages you quote in your essay (in-text citations), AND for your Works Cited list (which should include our primary text—Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 or Emplumada—as well as your outside sources).

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