Category Archives: Time Travel

Personal Narrative assignment

Purpose and Goals:

After reading personal narratives in class, you will write one of your own. You will write about a memory that you find meaningful, beautiful, harrowing, tragic, hilarious, or otherwise interesting. You can write about any experience, whether a childhood memory or something that happened yesterday. As in the pieces by Carver and Sedaris, you will need to use vivid details, plausible dialogue, and rich descriptions. You can choose the extent to which you want to fictionalize this piece: it might be closer to the memoir end of the spectrum, like “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” or it might be closer to the adaptation end of the spectrum, like Flight. It might be realistic or contain fantastical elements. One goal of this assignment is for you to write something very different from typical academic writing, which will allow you to take risks unavailable to you within the constraints of an academic paper. This piece should be about 1,000 words.

Genre Conventions:

  • Purpose
    • Re-create/fictionalize a memory
    • Establish intimacy with the reader by expressing your personal ideas and feelings
    • Convey your internal experience of a particular event
  • Narrative structure
    • What kind of structure best enables you to convey your narrative?
      • Strict chronology
      • Loose chronology
      • Non-linear chronology (i.e. flashbacks)
    • Your structure should be purposeful
      • Each paragraph should fit into your overall structure
      • Clear transitions between paragraphs will help your reader follow your structure
    • Style
      • What tone best fits your narrative?
        • Melancholy? Sardonic? Curious? Wistful? Impassioned? Clinical?
      • What kind of diction and syntax are appropriate to your topic?
        • Terse, staccato sentences vs. long, flowing sentences
        • Monosyllabic, “Germanic” words vs. polysyllabic, “Latinate” language
      • How can you use imagery, simile, and metaphor to enhance your narrative?

Grading:

Your second draft will comprise 10% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on these four areas:

  • Purpose—10%
  • Structure—40%
  • Style—40%
  • Grammar and Mechanics—10%

Personal Narrative Assignment

Purpose and Goals:

You will write about a memory that you find meaningful, beautiful, harrowing, tragic, hilarious, or otherwise worthy of preserving. You can write about any experience, whether a childhood memory or something that happened yesterday. As in the pieces by Carver and Sedaris, you will need to use vivid details, plausible dialogue, and rich descriptions. You can choose the extent to which you want to fictionalize this piece: it might be closer to the memoir end of the spectrum, like “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” or it might be closer to the adaptation end of the spectrum, like Flight. It might be realistic or contain fantastical elements. Your essay should have a purposeful structure, appropriate tone, and vivid details. This piece should be about 1,000 words.

Genre Conventions:

  • Intimacy—essays are expressions of your personal ideas and feelings about your topic
  • Narrative—essays tell a story with a purposeful structure
  • Generalization—essays connect personal experiences with larger ideas and issues

Form and Content:

  • Structure
    • Your essay should have one overarching idea, which is developed through various subordinate ideas
    • What kind of structure best enables you to explore your topic?
      • You might structure your essay chronologically or use non-linear chronology (i.e. flashbacks)
      • You might discuss a series of anecdotes or examples of a common theme
      • You might pose a central question, then explore possible answers
    • Your structure should be clear, consistent, and appropriate to your topic
      • Each paragraph should fit into your overall structure
      • Clear transitions between paragraphs will help your reader follow your structure
  • Style
    • What tone best fits your topic?
      • Melancholy? Sardonic? Curious? Wistful? Impassioned? Clinical?
      • The tone of your essay should not shift abruptly, unless it does so deliberately
    • What kind of diction and syntax are appropriate to your topic?
      • Terse, staccato sentences vs. long, flowing sentences
      • Monosyllabic, “Germanic” words vs. polysyllabic, “Latinate” language
    • How can you use imagery, simile, and metaphor to develop your theme?

Grading:

This assignment will comprise 10% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on these four areas:

  • Topic—10%
  • Structure—40%
  • Style—40%
  • Grammar and Mechanics—10%

Literary Criticism Assignment

Purpose and Goals:

To practice writing academic prose, you will write a researched argument about the role of time in one of the texts we have read in class. Although your argument should be grounded in the primary text on which you choose to focus, you will need to incorporate some secondary sources. You should interact with arguments of other scholars, both those whose position supports your own and those with whom you disagree. If you choose to write on one of the longer works of prose—Flight, Kindred, Brave New World—you should focus on that text. You may write about more than one poem, but you will have to clearly explain why you chose to put them in dialogue. Your argument should include both close readings of important passages and broader analysis about the role of time in the whole work. You will need to support your argument with various kinds of evidence. You will position your claim (“I Say”) in relation to the claims of other scholars (“They Say”). Your argument should be about 2,000 words.

Genre Conventions:

  • Sources and Evidence
    • Bizup’s B.E.A.M.
      • “Background” sources provide general information or factual evidence
      • “Exhibit” sources are those which you analyze or interpret (evidence)
      • “Argument” sources are those whose claims you engage (“They Say”)
      • “Method” sources are those from which you derive a governing concept
    • You will need to briefly summarize arguments opposed to your own and refute them by showing that your argument is better
    • All sources should be properly cited using MLA format
  • Structure
    • A thesis statement toward the end of your introduction should convey the crux of your argument
    • Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which encapsulates the main point of that paragraph and reflects one element of your overall thesis
    • Each paragraph should end with a transition that connects it to the next paragraph
    • Your conclusion should state the implications of your argument, rather than repeat your thesis
    • Use meta-commentary to help the reader follow your argument
  • Style
    • You can combine formal and colloquial language, but do not use informal language alone
    • Use an authoritative tone when making claims
    • Use language that is as precise as possible, including appropriate jargon
    • Use qualified language when necessary to soften or nuance your claims

Grading:

This assignment will comprise 20% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on:

  • Sources and evidence—30%
  • Structure—30%
  • Style—30%
  • Grammar and Mechanics—10%

Film Analysis: Memento

Purpose and Goals:

In this assignment, you will analyze the significance of time in Christopher Nolan’s film Memento. This assignment will give you the opportunity to perform a literary analysis, develop your competency in audio-visual literacy, and incorporate scholarly sources into your own argument. This piece should be about 1,500 words.

Interpretation and Analysis:

This is not a film review, but rather an interpretive piece, so you do not need to summarize the plot of the film. You might focus on any number of issues related to the theme of time in the film: Why does Memento unfold in reverse chronological order? What is Leonard’s understanding of the relationship between memory, meaning, and selfhood? How do the audience’s perceptions toward the characters shift as the film progresses?

Incorporation of Scholarly Sources:

 I will provide you with two scholarly articles about the film, which you must incorporate into your argument. You should not merely summarize these pieces, but rather treat them as conversation partners. Whether you agree or disagree with these scholars’ arguments, you must succinctly explain what they are arguing. If you disagree with their arguments, then you must explain why they are flawed. If you agree with their arguments, then you must explain how they support your own argument. You should accurately summarize the scholars’ arguments, but do not simply repeat them without offering a contribution of your own.

Audio-visual Literacy:

Your analysis should consider traditional literary elements of the film, such as setting, dialogue, plot, symbolism, and character development, as well as its audio-visual nature: how do the cinematography, editing, and score contribute to the film’s view of time?

Grading:

This assignment will comprise 10% of your final grade. The first draft will not be graded, but if you do not turn it in on time you may fail the assignment. I will comment on the first draft to guide your revision. The second draft will receive a letter grade.