Interpretation goes beyond informational reading, where we find different possibilities, different perspectives, different meanings to a text or situation. We find the ability to think outside our initial perception when we search for and test multiple ways of understanding.
How It Works: Interpretations go deeper than the plain and obvious. On the one hand they should be grounded in the original text, able to show the connections and how they are translated into a conclusion. On the other hand they should do some critical thinking work to demonstrate creativity and agility of perspective. They can answer yes, no, and maybe, but provide a full argument to justify each position. They can take the perspective of various philosophical positions, but demonstrate how the idea works in practical application.
Difficulties: It is surprisingly difficult to be authentic to the text, yet draw some conclusion that goes beyond what is already self evident. There is the possibility of confusing what is possible for what is probable. There is also repeating without doing enough work to draw a conclusion. Adding too much of your own interpretation or leaving your reader to do too much work are problems; the difficulty is finding a balance. Therefore, under- or over-interpretation are the most common issues.
Recommendations: When composing interpretations, try to look at the text from various angles. Be creative and playful with perspectives. Build and test, universalize and criticize, construct and deconstruct. The different interpretations should each be self contained and reasonable. Check that you can find specific evidence in the text to support your position. Then see if you manage to go beyond rewording and present various perspectives and voices that have the possibility to contrast yet work.
If you are interested in exercising your argumentation skills, try the work below. You are welcome to email me, message me, or comment below if you would like feedback on your arguments.
Epitaph in Bookish Style by Benjamin Franklin
The Body of Benjamin Franklin (Printer)
(Like the cover of an old book
Its contents torn out
And stript of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
In a new and more elegant edition
Revised and corrected
Write three different answers to the question inspired by the text.
Does Franklin believe that men are mortal?