English 1010
Unit 1: Literacy Narrative for Lee Mortensen’s class

Background
By reviewing how you’ve become the literate person you are (in English, in Sports, in Music, in Film, in Fashion, in Art), and by deeply exploring one pivotal moment of that process, this essay should help you identify and analyze your habits, assumptions, and beliefs about being able to join the conversation of a specific community.  In English, people often tell a story about a reading and/or writing breakthrough or difficulty.  In sports, people often tell the story of how they went from ignoring, say, football, to how they can now watch, discuss, and enjoy the game (or how the football community still didn’t want them—this doesn’t have to be a happy story). In addition to writing an engaging story, you will also reveal an insight, a moment of relevance beyond the personal.  Robert Frost, a famous poet, says, “A poem is about one thing, and one thing more.”  This is the case with any writing.  The author often explores a deeper meaning to their story.

A literacy narrative tells a story about your personal engagement and even transformation with a specific community like the one that loves reading and/or writing, and argues that a specific pivotal moment in that community significantly affected you as a person.  Basically, you will pick one key event from your past—either positive or negative—and connect that event to your current feelings about and/or abilities in English, Sports, Music etc.

Assignment Details
For this assignment, you will write an autobiographical narrative based on your literacy experiences that communicates some insight to the rest of the class (the “one thing more”).  Not only will you write an engaging and memorable narrative, but you must also expand on the narrative’s relevance beyond the personal.  In other words, in you write a literacy narrative about your engagement in English, you should include how reading and writing function in a broader context. For example, how has your understanding of literacy changed once you entered the university?  Or, how did a specific experience, like winning a spelling bee, affect you culturally and socially?  Perhaps, learning a new literacy skill changed or improved the ways others perceive you—you learned the lingo of football, and now the “good old boy’s club” includes you, but perhaps you found that inclusion in that community wasn’t really what you wanted after all.  That’s a “one thing more.”

This essay does not have to be a rousing exposition about why writing and reading are the joy of your life if they are really the bane of your existence.  The same goes for literacy in sports, music etc. Be honest.  Tell a good story about an important literacy event.

Style and Format
In its final form, your essay should be creative and imaginative (see pages 13-14 in Everyone’s and Author).  You should use descriptive language, and include a clearly stated, cohesive argument. Your essay should also include a strong thesis statement, clear and thoughtful reasoning, and appropriate evidence to support your claims while also offering an accurate and fair analysis of your literacy community.  As always, include appropriate in-text citations (you should have 3-4 sources for your essay).  Keep in mind that you want to show that you understand the complexity of the literacy event/moment that is important to you.

 

Advanced Style
Some authors who write creative non-fiction don’t always state their thesis at the start, nor do they always have a clear and strong thesis statement.  The literate reader will often know this and read such a text with an eye toward implied meaning.

Requirements: 1200-1800 words (4-6 pages, double spaced, approximately), with 3+ sources, MLA works cited, and formatted using MLA rules.

Audience
The audience for this paper will be for intelligent readers, or your instructor and your fellow classmates. One reason for writing to such a specific audience is to begin breaking the habit of writing to some vague, objective audience who may or may not care about your topic.  Instead, approach this paper in a way that helps us (the readers) get to know you better.  For this essay, then, you may write in a more informal style that is distinctly your own—just make sure that you’re communicating clearly (or for the more advanced option, that your style and images symbolically help the reader imagine the deeper meanings of your story).

Tips

Textbook Help in Everyone’s an Author—see our Web Calendar for reading assignments: http://research.uvu.edu/mortensen/1010/calendar.html