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lens essay 2

I. Lens Essay Orientation and Tips

The lens essay typically employs a theoretical text as the lens (lens text) and uses it to examine a piece of art or culture (target text).

Since you will ultimately focus on points of cohesion and disharmony between the two texts, the order and manner in which you read (or in our case, view—we will be analyzing a film) them is crucial.

First, read the lens text to identify the author’s core arguments and vocabulary. Since theoretical or critical texts tend to be dense and complex, it may be helpful to develop an outline of the author’s primary points. It’s important to make sure you truly understand and can articulate the author’s main points before proceeding to the target text.

For our essay, the target text is in the form of a film. Our lens text is Degrazia’s article, “Prozac, Enhancement and Self-Creation.”

Then, ask yourself: Where do I see general points of agreement or disagreement between the two texts? Which of the lens text’s main arguments could be applied to the target text? It may be easier to focus on one or two of the lens text’s central arguments.

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 film? How can I apply the lens author’s theoretical vocabulary or logic to instances in the film? Are there instances where the lens text’s arguments don’t or can’t apply? Why is this? It is helpful to keep a careful, written record of page numbers, quotes, and your thoughts and reactions as you brainstorm.

Since this type of paper deals with a complex synthesis of multiple sources, it is especially important to have a clear plan of action before you begin writing. It may help to group quotes or events by subject matter, by theme, or by whether they support, contradict, or otherwise modify the arguments in the lens text. Hopefully, common themes, ideas, and arguments will begin to emerge and you can start drafting! (

II. The Prompt

Examine and evaluate the authenticity of the one of the film’s major characters, using Degrazia’s essay as your theoretical lens. For this essay, you must use DeGrazia’s essay as your lens text. The film of your choice is the target text. Your thesis should establish a comprehensive evaluation of a character’s authenticity in regards to his/her identity.

You may find that the character’s authenticity wavers depending on circumstance, OR you may find that even amidst changes, his/her authenticity remains, OR you may find that he/she is not authentic at all, that the changes he/she encounters actually represent a lack of authenticity. These are merely examples of discussion topics for your essay. There is no right or wrong, only ideas with support. Remember that you MUST use Degrazia’s discussion as your “authenticity measurement instrument.” Essentially, you might ask yourself during brainstorm, would Degrazia think my chosen character is authentic throughout the film?

The theme of this essay prompt is authenticity, encouraged by David DeGrazia’s article, “Prozac, Enhancement and Self-Creation.” DeGrazia examines various perspectives on what defines authenticity and Western cultural concepts such as the acceptance or encouragement of “designer” personalities. He explores the complexity and controversy associated with the cosmetic psychopharmacology and authenticity of person.

The focus of his case study is a woman, Marina, who struggles and seeks to find a method of self-improvement that will enhance her performance and personhood. Throughout DeGrazia’s discussion of Marina and his examination of various theories, he does inevitably settle on his own theory of what defines authenticity and authentic behavior.

Some Basic Requirements:

MLA format

4-6 pages





Use of details, quotes and imagery from Degrazia and the film as support for your points

A Works Cited page for the film and Degrazia


Above is the official requirements.

Here’s some tips that our Prof said in class:

Choose any films you want, even TV series do the job, but make sure the length should be nearly the same as a film, so 1 or 2 episodes might work.

Try not to be a story-teller.

Don’t have to follow the order of the story, feel free to jump around.

Degrazia Key Words must be included:

Self-conception (what we consider most important in our self-told narratives aka life story)

Identity crisis

Value systems


Designer personality


Social quietism

Genetic endowment

Quality of early environment

Range of possibilities available

The extent of or limitations on the project self-creation

At least one quote from Degrazia for each point you’re trying to explain.

There are some brainstorming questions in the files I unloaded which might help.

Since this essay could be super hard and tricky, give me a brief outline before Monday to make sure we’re on the track.


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