According to two books: Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild and Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
A lens essay requires interpreting one text through the viewpoints of another.
A lens essay is a type of comparative paper that analyzes one text through the viewpoints expressed in another. Composing an effective one is difficult even for the most seasoned of writers. However, it is an incredible intellectual exercise through which you will not only improve your writing skills, but critical reading and thinking skills as well.
Read the lens. You will be using this text to view the second, so make an effort to get into the author’s head. Note down the author’s viewpoints, assumptions and justifications.
Read the second work while keeping the first in mind. How does the lens serve to shed light on the second text? Does it criticize it or support it? If the two pieces were written during different periods in history, consider the era in which the lens was written and how it affects the opinions or points made in the second.
With your notes in hand, construct your thesis statement. State the connection/differences between the two texts within the given context. This forms the basis of your entire paper, so it is always helpful to write it first. Keep it as clear and simple as you can manage.
Write the body. A lens essay is typically constructed on a text-by-text basis. Concentrate on presenting the lens in the first paragraphs. In the following, present the second text as viewed through the lens. How do your points support the thesis? Make sure to include evidence for your assertions.
Write the conclusion.
( Note: You can alternate lenses- use Wild to view Into the Wild if you want to explore both texts as lenses on each other.)
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