ENGLISH 494: Writing and Tutoring

Spring, 2002



Guidelines for Literacy Narrative Essay


Overview
Content
Length
Format
Deadlines


Overview. The focus of this first writing assignment is on exploring an experience that seems to have been important in shaping the kind of reader and writer you have become or an experience that illustrates the role of literacy in your life. The purpose of the assignment is to relate to your readers (your classmates and me) a story of some event or experience in your life in which writing and/or reading figure prominently--a story that might provide some insight into the role literacy plays into your life.

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Content. You can accomplish this purpose in a variety of ways. You might, for example, tell the story of an especially important event later in your life that profoundly shaped you as the literate person you are today. Or you might describe an important educational or non-educational experience that influenced your literacy learning in some way. Or you might focus on a specific event in which writing or reading played a crucial role. Or you might do some variation of all these. I want the assignment to be flexible enough to accommodate a range of possible essays and to give you the freedom to explore a form and structure that seem most suitable to you as you try to present your literate self to the rest of us. So experiment, if you're so inclined. But keep in mind the purpose of the assignment as well as your audience. This is not to be an autobiography; rather, it is a narrative of a specific experience or set of experiences. (You might think of the essays we will read by Baca, Goodman, Lu, and Tannen as models of possible ways of approaching this assignment.; see course texts for a list of these readings, most of which are included in the course pack.)

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Length. There is no specific length requirement, but keep a few things in mind as you work through your draft. Because we will be sharing these essays with each other in class, very lengthy essays might become cumbersome for your readers. Essays of more than six pages might be difficult to read and respond to effectively during a class session. At the same time, very short essays (fewer than three pages) may not allow for the appropriate development of your narrative. Four or five pages (approximately 1000 - 1200 words) is probably a reasonable length for this assignment. But I don't want to set a requirement that precludes experimenting or exploring an experience in a way that makes sense or seems compelling. So use your best judgment, again keeping your readers and our larger purposes in mind as you go. And have some fun, too.

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Format. All texts for this course (with very few exceptions) should be submitted electronically. You may submit the final version on disk or via email (as an attached file). You may also paste your essay to our WebCT site. Please save your essay as a Microsoft Word file, a Rich Text File (RTF), or a text (ASCII) file. If you submit your essay via email, be sure to let me know in class on the day it is due.

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Deadlines. First drafts of this assignment are due in class on Thursday, January 31. (Please bring your draft to class in a form that is readable: either on disk or printed out in hard copy or both.) Final versions are due on Thursday, February 7.

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