AGENDAPresentation: TermsDiscussion:• In-class writing on Identity• Personal Passing Experience• Being Judged by Concrete IdentifiersLecture: Writing Strategies for in-class essay #1:• Basic Features of a Personal NarrativeIn-Class Writing• A Well-Told Story• A Vivid Presentation of Places and People• An Indication of the Event’s Significance
TERMS1. Bias: A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment; an unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.2. Culture: Behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, language, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.3. Difference: A characteristic that distinguishes one person from another or from an assumed norm, or the state of being distinguished by such characteristics. Social justice issues such as racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism usually center on the negative perception of difference by the dominant group. Viewed positively, difference can be a catalyst for equity, recognition of interdependence, and a source of personal power.
4. Discrimination: Treatment or consideration based on class orcategory rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice.5. Diversity: The quality of being diverse; a respect in whichthings differ; variety.6. Equality: The state or quality of treating everyone in an equalmanner.7. Ethnicity: A perception of being alike, a sense of peoplehoodby virtue of sharing a common ancestry (real or fictitious), values,and behavior.
8. Fluid Identity: The concept that identity is not rigid but can anddoes change. This idea is often used in terms of gender, sexuality,and race, as well as other factors of identity. This concept isfundamentally contrary to binary systems. People who feel theiridentity is fluid often believe that rigid categories are oppressiveand incapable of accurately describing their experience andidentities.9. Oppression: Arbitrary and cruel use of power; using severe orunjust force or authority. An unjust situation where, systematicallyand over a long period of time, one group denies another groupaccess to the resources of society. Race, gender, class, sexuality,nation, age, ethnicity, disability status, and religion constitutemajor forms of oppression.
10. Passing: Historically, passing has been defined in terms of racialpassing. It refers to a deception that allows a person to take advantageof certain roles or opportunities from which he or she might be barred inthe absence of this posed identity. The most common racial passer, ofcourse, was the African American who lacked those characteristicstypical of his race. These mixed race people had physical appearancesthat allowed them to be perceived and treated as if they where white.But passing is not limited to African Americans assuming white roles insociety; it is not even limited to a racial basis. People pass in a variety ofways and for a variety of reasons—from Blacks who pass for white, toJews who pass as Gentiles, to gays who pass for straight, for womenwho pass for men—and the opposite of all of these. Reverse passing,though less prevalent, also exists in multiple forms.
How do we express our own identities?How much do we reveal about ourselvesand when do we do so?How do we decide?What does society expect from us interms of revealing who we are?
Write a paragraph or two describing atime when you were unfairly judged onconcrete identity characteristics. ORWrite a paragraph or two describing atime when you passed as someone orsomething you were not. The passingcan be either purposeful orinadvertent.
• This essay exam will be at our next meeting.• You can use a one page outline from which to write.• You will have approximately 90 minutes• Bring paper, pens or pencils, and your outlineIn a narrative essay of two to three pages, respond to one of thefollowing prompts:1. Tell about an experience when you were unfairly judged based onconcrete identity characteristics. 2. Tell about an experience when you passed as someone orsomething you were not. The passing can be either purposeful orinadvertent.
BASIC FEATURES OF A PERSONAL NARRATIVE:•A Well-Told Story•A Vivid Presentation of Places andPeople•An Indication of the Event’s Significance
A WELL-TOLD STORYChoose an interesting story• Shape it into an exciting or memorable experience• Arouse curiosity, build suspense, and conclude action with the climaxBegin at the beginning• Write an introduction that sets the stage for your tale• Prepare your readers to understand the significance of your event.
WHAT STORY WILL YOU TELL?Where and when did it happen?Make a quick narrative ladder:• Exposition (Setting)• Rising action• Climax• Falling Action• Resolution
DEVELOP YOUR STORYDevelop your story in the body paragraphs• Use action verbs and verbal phrases (the – ing or to form of a verb: laughing, to laugh) • She drew the shades; I took my position; nudging her aside, I passed the crowd;• Use temporal transitions to cue readers and move the narrative through time. • Just after; when; still; no longer; after a few days; for a week or so; before long; one afternoon
USE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES TO DESCRIBE He chased Mikey and me around the yellow house and up a backyard path we knew by heart: under a low tree, up a bank, through a hedge, down some snowy steps, and across the grocery store’s delivery driveway.
THE GOAL: CREATE A VIVID PRESENTATION OF PLACESRecreate the time and place of the event• Ground readers in specifics: • When? Christmas morning; one day in late fall, Saturday night • Where? At a 7-11 in San Jose, at my Aunt Helen’s Easter party, In the back alley of a club in SunnyvaleName specific objects• White, spherical snowball• City clothes• Translucent skin• Dirty sidewalkUse similes and metaphors to draw comparisons• Simile: The car rumbled like an approaching storm.• Metaphor: I wanted to slingshot myself into the future. (compares himself to a stone)
DESCRIBING THE PLACEThe shopping center was swarming with frantic last-minute shoppers like ourselves. We went first to theGeneral Store, my favorite. It carried mostlyknickknacks and other useless items which nobodyneeds but buys anyway. I was thirteen years old atthe time, and things like buttons and calendars andposters would catch my fancy. This day was nodifferent. The object of my desire was a 75-centSnoopy button.
THE STRATEGY: LISTING KEY PLACESMake a list of all the places where the event occurred, skipping some space after each entry on your list.In the space after each entry on your list, make some notes describing each place. What do you see (except people for now)? What objects stand out? Are thy large or small, green or brown, square or oblong? What sounds do you hear? Do you detect any smells? Does any taste come to mind? Any textures?
THE GOAL: MAKE A VIVID PRESENTATION OF PEOPLEDescriptive details of behaviors or actions• She stuck her hand in the bag and picked up the poor, little dead squirrel.• He drew his hands through his long, greasy hairA bit of dialogue• “Poor dear,” she murmured• “Get out of my house,” he screamedDetail the person’s appearance• A thin woman: all action• He wore dress clothes: a black suit and tie
DESCRIBING THE PEOPLEIt wasn’t until my father opened the door that I realized something terrifyingly life altering was about to be revealed. Always movie-star handsome, he looked older than I had remembered him, and his light green eyes had gone dull.When I showed up, my father’s eyes were Caribbean clear, yet huge and eerily calm, though it was hard to see the rest of his face through all the white tape and the plastic tubing.
THE STRATEGY: RECALLING KEY PEOPLEList the people who played more than a causal role in the eventDescribe a key person: Write a brief description of a person other than yourself who played a major role in the event. Name and detail a few distinctive physical features or items of dress. Describe in a few phrases this person’s way of moving and gesturing
WRITING KEY SCENES IN DIALOGUENext thing I knew, he was talking about calling the police and havingme arrested and thrown in jail, as if he had just nabbed a professionalthief instead of a terrified kid. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. “Jean, what’s going on?”The sound of my sister’s voice eased the pressure a bit. Shealways managed to get me out of trouble. She would come throughthis time too. “Excuse me. Are you a relative of this young girl?” “Yes, I’m her sister. What’s the problem?” “Well, I just caught her shoplifting and I’m afraid I’ll have to call the police.” “What did she take?” “This button.” “A button? You are having a thirteen-year-old arrested for stealing a button?” “I’m sorry, but she broke the law.”
THE STRATEGY CONTINUED: USEDIALOGUE TO CONVEY IMMEDIACY ANDDRAMAReconstruct one important conversation• Try to remember any especially memorable comments, any unusual choice of words, or any telling remarks that you made or were made to you.• Try to partially re-create the conversation so that readers will be able to imagine what was going on and how your language and the other person’s language reveal who you were and your relationship.
THE GOAL: INDICATE THE EVENT’SSIGNIFICANCE Show that the event was important • Dramatize the event so readers can understand your feelings about it. • Show scenes from your point of view so readers can identify with you. Tell us that the event was important • Tell how you felt at the time of the experience • Tell how you feel about it now, in reflection.
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SIGNIFICANCETelling the story from your point of view:As the officers led me through the mall, I sensed a hundredpairs of eyes staring at me. My face flushed and I broke out in asweat. Now everyone knew I was a criminal. In their eyes I wasa juvenile delinquent, and thank God the cops were getting meoff the streets. The worst part was thinking my grandmothermight be having the same thoughts. The humiliation at thatmoment was overwhelming. I felt like Hester Prynne being puton public display for everyone to ridicule.Show and tell how you felt at the time:I felt like a terrible human being. I would rather have stayed injail than confront my mom right then. I dreaded each passingminute that brought our encounter closer.
THE STRATEGY: RECALL REMEMBERED FEELINGS ANDTHOUGHTS• What were your expectations before the event?• What was your first reaction to the event as it was happening and right after it ended?• How did you show your feelings? What did you say?• What did you want the people involved to think of you? Why did you care what they thought of you?• What did you think of yourself at the time?• How long did these initial feelings last?• What were the immediate consequences of the event for you personally?Pause now to reread what you have written. Then writeanother sentence or two about the event’s significance to youat the time it occurred.
THE STRATEGY CONTINUED: EXPLORE YOUR PRESENT PERSPECTIVE• Looking back, how do you feel about this event? If you understand it differently now than you did then, what is the difference?• What do your actions at the time of the event say about the kind of person you were then? How would you respond to the same event if it occurred today?• Can looking at the event historically or culturally help explain what happened? For example, did you upset racial, gender, or religious expectations? Did you feel torn between identities or cultures? Did you feel out of place?• Do you see now that there was a conflict underlying the event? For example, were you struggling with contradictory desires? Did you feel pressured by others? Were you desires and rights in conflict with someone else’s? Was the event about power or responsibility?Pause to reflect on what you have written about your present
GOAL: FORMULATING A TENTATIVETHESIS Readers do not expect you to begin your narrative essay with the kind of explicit thesis statement typical of argumentative or explanatory writing. If you do decide to tell readers explicitly why the event was meaningful or significant, you will most likely do so as you tell the story, by commenting on or evaluating what happened, instead of announcing the significance at the beginning. Keep in mind that you are not obliged to tell readers the significance, but you must show it through the way you tell the story.
NARRATIVE ESSAY THESIS EXAMPLE“When the Walls Came Tumbling Down”by Trey Ellis A year before his death, my dad was forced to come out to me. I thought he was in Paris for a vacation. Instead, he was there for treatment with AZT, which in 1986 was experimental and not yet approved in the United States for people infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
STRATEGY: REVIEW THE EVENT’SSIGNIFICANCE Write a few sentences that briefly summarize the event for the reader.
THE GOAL: WRITING A GOOD INTRODUCTION The Strategy: Arouse readers’ curiosity • Begin with a surprising announcement • Establish the setting and situation Get readers to identify with you • Tell them a few things about yourself • Begin in the middle of the action or with a funny or important dialogue
THE GOAL: WRITING A GOODCONCLUSIONThe Strategy:Conclude with reflections on the meaning of the experience? (avoid tagging on a moral)Should you be philosophical? Satirical? Self critical?To underscore the event’s continuing significance, can you show that the conflict was never fully resolved?Could you contrast your remembered and current feelings and thoughts?Should you frame the essay by echoing something from the beginning to give readers a sense of closure?
FRAMING: INTRODUCTION “ Calling Home” by Jean Brandt As we all piled into the car, I knew it was going to be a fabulous day. My grandmother was visiting for the holidays; and she and I, along with my older brother and sister, Louis and Susan, were setting off for a day of last-minute Christmas shopping. On the way to the mall, we sang Christmas carols, chattered, and laughed. With Christmas only two days away, we were caught up with holiday spirit. I felt light-headed and full of joy. I loved shopping— especially at Christmas.
FRAMING: CONCLUSIONNot a word was spoken as we walked to the car. Slowly, I sankinto the back seat anticipating the scolding. Expecting harshtones,I was relieved to hear almost the opposite from my father. “I’m not going to punish you and I’ll tell you why. Although Ithink what you did was wrong, I think what the police did wasmorewrong. There’s no excuse for locking a thirteen-year-old behindbars. That doesn’t mean I condone what you did, but I thinkyou’ve been punished enough already.” As I looked from my father’s eyes to my mother’s, I knewthisordeal was over. Although it would never be forgotten, the
FRAMINGFraming is a narrative device that echoes the beginning in the ending. The reader will then think of the beginning while reading the ending.In our example, Brandt begins her essay in the car on the way to the mall. She ends her story on the car ride back home; at this time, she reflects on the incident, adding some discussion of the significance of the event.Take a few minutes to consider how you might begin and end your story using framing.
HOMEWORKPost #3: Finish your in-class writing and post it• This will likely be your outline, your strategies, your thoughts and reflections, and your thesis. For some people it will be more; for others less.• Study the terms we discussed in class.• Don’t forget that we have in-class essay #1 the next time we meet.