Read over the assignment, and look at some of the videos that catch your attention from the links below. If your community has a local paper or online site, you may want to consult that for ideas, as well as talk to friends and family members about what improvements could be made to your community.
The rough draft of your memoir is due by June 17 , to be posted to your blog. Here’s some information to read over before you start.
For most people, writing starts with the personal, and the closest subject matter for writers consists of happened to them, what they observed directly, their own experiences and emotions. One of the main genres of this type of writing is the memoir.
Why should anyone care about your life?
For any piece of writing, for all writers, purpose and audience are crucial considerations. Why are you writing this? What are you trying to say? What does your reader already know? What new information or new way of looking at things are you bringing to your reader?
In a memoir your material is drawn from your own private experience, but you are writing for a public reader who may well not know you and probably has no particular interest in your trip to DisneyWorld or your car accident or your romantic breakups. You may write journal entries and letters or poems that you don’t share with anyone to help preserve your joys and deal with your pains. But the fact that it happened to you, though reason enough to write it down for yourself, does not necessarily make it a good topic choice for a personal essay.
The memoir writer should consider how his or her individual experience connects to the experience of others. Yes, your readers won’t (generally) have shared your particular experience but they have all dealt with relationships to parents, friends, romantic partners; with feelings of loneliness and disappointment, pride in accomplishment and pleasure in delights of the senses; difficulties of reaching independence and setting one’s moral standards. As you start to consider ideas, to gather memories, to draft an essay, think about what more universal issues are imbedded in your personal experience. By writing about how you dealt with one or more these issues, you invite your readers to connect: to experience vicariously a small portion of someone else’s life and in doing so to examine their own lives.
Here’s an interesting post with some quotes from memoir writers on Why We Write about Ourselves.
Some of you seem to have figured out how to post on your blog, but in case others have questions or problems, I made this video to demonstrate basics of using blogs:
Read the post Welcome to College Writing and the syllabus. If you have any questions about the syllabus, please leave a comment on the syllabus page so that everyone can see my answer–if you have a question, probably others do too! Also read the short pages Paper vs. screen and Setting up your blog. These pages are all listed under the Intro tab above, but it may take you a little while to feel comfortable navigating around. I will always give hyperlinks to info I’d like you to read, so you shouldn’t ever have to be searching around the blog; please let me know right away if you can’t find something or if a link is broken.
Set up your own blog, follow the procedure to “Join a class” described in the instructions, and send me an email with your class, your name, and the name you’d like me to use for your blog link.
As a first post on your blog and an introduction, write a chunky paragraph or several (about 250 words, or more, if you want) that tells us something about who you are as a writer and/or a reader. You might want to think over questions such as the following: what were some memorable pieces of writing (or reading) you did as you were growing up? what writing do you do these days (think about writing to connect to friends and family, work-related writing, writing for self-expression and/or to relieve stress)? how do you write? where? do you have favorite utensils? favorite kinds of paper? who were some influential writing teachers you had and why? what were the stages in your development as a writer and reader? what do you see as your strengths and weaknesses as a writer or reader now? what would you like to work on during this semester with respect to your writing? You may also want to include where you stand on the paper vs. screen issue. Of course, you do not need to answer all of these questions! Any questions of that sort (or other similar ones you might think of) are fair game for this “assignment.”
Feel free to approach this as “creatively” as you’d like. Some of my students in the past have responded to this prompt with a poem. If you’d like to include something visual, a photograph or several, to illustrate your words, go right ahead!
Next read the page Writing as interplay between the general and the specific.
Read the assignment The Place Where You Live, and post your contribution as a second post on your blog.
NOTE: For a quick recap of the week’s assignments, see the Assignments page, accessed by clicking the hyperlink here or clicking the link on the right sidebar, just below section info. This will be the link you’ll need to access to find work for each week. For the first few weeks, I’ll also email the link as a reminder.
I’m happy to welcome you to the course blog for English 101 and to six (!!) busy weeks of reading and writing. This will be the central space for the course, an electronic version of our classroom where you will be able to go to find assignments and class notes, as well as to read the writing of your colleagues.
Please bookmark this site on your computer (or make a note of its URL if you use multiple computers).
First I’d like to mention a few things that may be different from this course and other sections of English 101:
As you can see, I use blogs instead of eLearning, for both my online and face-to-face courses. In addition to this course blog, you will also each be setting up your own blogs, which you will use to post rough drafts and informal writing. I believe that blogs are a tremendous technology that allows writers both to set up their own personal writing space and to share that writing easily with others. The sense of audience writers can get from this is invaluable. Though this may cause some of you some anxiety (exposing your work-in-progress to the eyes of others), I want to emphasize its potential to create a community of supportive writers. Also, looking at the work of others can often be a great way to get both ideas and inspiration for your own writing! (If you’ve never blogged before, don’t worry!! It’s easy; I’ll provide a short video to show you how to get started, and I’ll be available the first week and later to meet with anyone who wants some face-to-face help.)
(Note that I will be posting comment but not grades on your blog entries; all final drafts will be turned in on paper or through email. I will use the grading feature in eLearning to record grades–checking your grade will be the only reason you should need to sign into eLearning.)
In addition to the blogging, the other maybe-unusual aspect of this course is the course is theme-based. As you can see from the title above, you will be writing this session about place, with the course organized into three sections that move from the personal to the public: a first unit on house, home, and domestic spaces; then a unit on commercial spaces (i.e., stores); and a final unit on civic spaces. (Thanks to my daughter Emily for designing the header!) In part, this theme grew from coincidence (I kept running across articles I liked that fit the theme), but also because I believe that good writing starts from paying attention and keeping your eyes open, and this theme demands that.
For more info about the set-up of the course, you can access the syllabus from the links across the top of the page under the first column titled “Intro”–it will stay there for the whole course, as will major assignments for the class. If you’d like to look or work ahead, check out the assignment links there as well. You can find each week’s assignments and deadlines to the right by clicking on the link marked Assignments.
Here’s a quick tour of this blog space: