The Personal Essay
The goal of the personal essay is to write from personal experience while exploring an overall question that is meaningful to you and your readers. For example, Annie Dillard explores what it means to truly see in her essay titled "Seeing".
Use your pre-writing exercises, experiences (observations and memories), class reading and annotations as the basis for your essay. I am looking to see that you can use both your life experience and reading to engage readers and deepen your exploration.
Your essay must engage the course themes of home and identity. How does a sense of place inform your sense of self? In other words, tell me about a place that is significant to you. It can be your present home, a childhood home, or a place that simply feels like home. Perhaps there is a place you go to that brings you a sense of peace, or a place that is so familiar to you that you consider it your home away from home. What do you know about this place? Even more interesting is the question, what don’t you know? Describe this place. Tell me about something that happened to you there. Do you feel you were transformed by the experience or gained insight?
Include 1-2 paragraphs in your essay that engages at least one of the class reading assignments we’ve had to date. Use your annotations as a starting point, but the idea is to incorporate what you’ve learned from other texts as you explore the question you put forth in your own essay.
Remember to use the hallmarks of the personal essay and the model essay we’ve been studying by Annie Dillard to guide your writing and exploration.
Formatting and Structure:
• 5-7 pages, typed and double-spaced using a 12 point font
• Your essay should contain an introduction, body and conclusion paragraph
• Write in the 1st person (use "I") and in the past tense
• Give your essay a title
• Use MLA formatting guidelines (See RFW pp. 524-532)
• You will NOT be required to use in-text citations for this assignment. If you engage other texts, introduce the text by naming the author and the title of the text before you quote, summarize or paraphrase the text.
Criteria for Evaluation:
Close reading and critical thinking: Show that you have engaged your reading in a meaningful way in your writing. I am looking for insight and your unique voice.
Rhetorical Modes: Engage in at least three of the following rhetorical modes in your essay – description, narration, cause and effect, process analysis, comparison and contrast.
Description: Show, don’t tell. Engage all of the five senses in your description – see, hear, smell, taste, touch. Convey emotion through word choice as opposed to telling me how you feel about your specific place.
Essay structure: Your introduction creates interest and the body of the essay sustains this interest. The introduction clearly indicates the overall question you are exploring. The body engages the overriding question you put forth in the introduction. Your conclusion makes clear the significance of you inquiry and leaves the reader with something to "chew on".