Rhetoric and Writing Studies/ Memoir – Excelsior Writers | excelsiorwriters.com
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Project 1: Memoir
Assignment: Memoir (personal writing situation)
Reading: Patricia Hampl’s “Memory and Imagination”
Purpose of the Assignment: To give you the experience of writing a narrative argument within the constraints of a particular rhetorical situation.
For this assignment, I would like you to narrate personally meaningful, specific events that influenced your choice of major and/or career. You may use Hampl’s memoir as a guide. The piano lesson she describes took place over a short period of time. (The rest of her chapter discusses what she learned from the process of writing a memoir.)
There are only four essential components you need to include in your memoir:
- Background that establishes the context in which the events that influenced your choice of major and/or career occurred. Here you’ll use subjective description (e.g., feelings, perceptions, emotions) and objective description (e.g., place and people names, dates, colors, shapes, textures, etc) to place the narrative in a context.
- The significant events that influenced your decision to choose a particular major and/or career.
- An evaluation of those events. What did you learn from them? How have these events changed your life? How do you look at life differently now?
- A message (your argument) you wish to convey to your audience.
When I say there are only four essential components you need to include in your narrative, I mean that you have freedom to decide what to include and in what order you would like to present these components. Furthermore, autobiographical narratives can be enhanced by dialogue (conversations between people) and dialect (the actual words and ways that people say them in conversations).
Keep in mind that you are writing to an audience that does not know you, so what do you feel is necessary for you to include in your narrative so the reader can fully understand what you have written?
Your paper will be about 4 to 6 pages long, double-spaced. To give you some ideas, I’ve placed some examples of memoirs in this area of our Blackboard site.
Criteria for Evaluation:
- Does your memoir narrate an event that had strong personal meaning for you?
- Is it coherent and cohesive?
- Is your memoir interesting, with vivid descriptive passage and sharp details?
- Have you utilized your memoir in a way so that your message is conveyed clearly to your audience?
- Is the language of your narrative clear (i.e. easily accessible to the readers), concrete, and appropriate to your purpose?
- Do you avoid clichés and stilted sentence structures and phrasing?
- Are your grammar problems few enough and insignificant enough that they don’t get in the way of understanding? For instance, is your narrative developed in complete sentences? Are subject-verb, pronoun, and verb tense agreement errors rare? Are spelling errors infrequent?
Key 305W Outcomes Met with This Assignment
- Analyze the details of a wide variety of writing situations (textual elements such as tone, evidence, organizational patterns, diction, even visuals) according to the author’s purpose as well as the audience’s needs and tastes
- Actively read texts using a variety of reading strategies such as annotation, visual organizers, questioning, and discussion
- Identify how a writer uses rhetorical strategies in various genres of writing
- Interpret, analyze, and evaluate demanding texts
- Apply critical thinking skills and reading strategies to evaluate their own writing
- Reflect on their own progress as a working writer in relation to critical thinking and reading strategies
- Develop flexible strategies for creating, revising, and editing texts
- Critique their own texts
- Write with an awareness of audience and purpose
- Identify how discourse communities employ particular strategies for conveying, researching, evaluating, and presenting information
- Analyze and choose the appropriate conventions for a range of audience expectations
- Sustain reasonable correctness in grammar and mechanics to perform well in a variety of writing contexts and professional settings
- Critically analyze a variety of texts produced for public and individual readers
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