Self Study Assignment

Self Study - 30% of final grade

Over the course of the semester, we will write and or revise four essays, one a digital, researched, persuasion essay. We’ll read and discuss the leading scholars in the field of composition studies (Rose, Sommers, Perl, Faigley, Lu), and we’ll read several influential proponents of the writing life (Stafford, Lamott, Murray, Ueland). In reading responses and in class discussions, we’ll reflect on our past and present writing experiences, particularly our academic writing experiences. Our typed prose this semester, counting just reading responses and final drafts of essays, and digital essay script will total 15 pages!

This assignment, the capstone of the semester, asks you to demonstrate a thoughtful understanding of your own writing process. You will need to reflect meaningfully on your past experiences writing and on your writing this semester (particularly your portfolio). You will need to discuss your own writing using the composition theory we’ve read this semester. You will formulate a controlling theme/thesis about your writing and about yourself as a writer, citing, in support of this thesis, your own writing in the portfolio, your experiences giving revision advice to peers, and the scholars and critics we’ve read.

The self-study needs to be organized in support of a central (though perhaps broad) theme or thesis. It must move beyond a list of extended answers to questions.

The essay needs to be 6-10 pages double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 inch Font. It will need to correctly cite and/or paraphrase passages from the texts in correct MLA form. You must refer to least three of the following five writers: Sommers, Rose, Perl, Faigley, Lu.

Generating Questions:
The Following questions will help you generate material to include in your self study. The class will add questions to this list.

  • What areyour obsessions; what are the topics you return to again and again?
  • Was there a “shift” in your writing practices (particularly your revision practices)? When?
  • When did you feel yourself revising in the manner of Sommers’ experienced writers rather than in the manner of her student writers?
  • What writing assignments proved most fruitful to you?
  • How was writing the digital story different than writing the other essays?
  • Was there a shift in your authority (ala Sommers)?
  • What are the various voices that you can hear in your own “voice” (ala Murray)?
  • What rules about writing do you carry with you? Where/when did you learn these rules? Are they flexible enough not to, like Rose’s students, lead to writer’s block? Did you break these rules anywhere in your portfolio?
  • What, if any, role did “felt sense” play in your writing these essays? In other words, did you listen to your body as you wrote and revised?
  • In your writing projects, did you rely more on what Perl would call “retrospective structuring" or on "projective structuring"?
  • What did you learn about yourself and your life in writing these essays (remember Murray says we create ourselves and our lives when we write)?
  • Is Stafford right that if you write, you generate more material to write about?
  • Did you write “bird by bird” or in big chunks?
  • Was the idea of a shitty first draft useful? Or the idea of child’s draft? Or of a Polaroid coming into focus? Or a 1 inch picture frame?
  • In your writing, do you see Lu's notion of writing as a product of the circumstances surrounding your growth and development in a political and social setting?
  • Do you agree with Ueland that "The only good [writing] teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is: 'Tell me more'"?
  • Did instructor feedback make you a better writer?
  • How do you feel about focusing on "process not product"?
  • Do you feel your writing and yourself as a writer has changed in the portfolio/non-graded process of this course?
  • Is good writing a matter of inherited genius or do you feel that “everybody is talented.”
  • Are you a "lily-livered artist" according to Ueland, playing it safe? Or have you been practicing writing with "all your intelligence and love"?
  • How are your answers on your writer’s profile different than on the first day of class? How do you account for the change (or lack of change)?

Read over you reading responses (noting where you may have misunderstood the article). Answer the above questions; you don’t have to answer every question, but hopefully some will prove fruitful for you. Notice repetitions and patterns in your answers. Think of a theme or thesis that says something about your writing process and your writer’s profile. Bring this thesis to conference with instructor (October 21). Turn to your portfolio to support this thesis with examples from your own writing in this course. Draw on the critical perspectives of the writers we’ve read this semester. Outline the essay and then write a draft of your essay (November 11). Revise the essay for small group workshop feedback and style. The final version of the essay is due (during finals week)

Thesis due: October 21
Draft due: November 11
Revised draft: finals week

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