ENH 370: The Art of the Personal Essay

Spring 2009

Tuesday -- Reading Due

Thursday -- Writing Due
Sunday -- Workshop Due
Week 1
20-Jan

Questions About the Course:

1. Study all of the sections in the Blackboard course. If you have questions, please post them in the Questions about the Course Forum.

2. Post a note about yourself in the Getting to Know You forum.

3. Read the Preface and Introduction to our textbook and the "Preface to the Anthology" pp 196-198.

22-Jan
Favorite Writers: In the Favorite Writers forum, post a 350 word note that describes your 5 favorite Living American nonfiction writers (for our purposes they must be alive and they must be American). Consider the following questions: What draws you to their work? What career paths have they followed? What work of theirs have your read or would you like to read?
25-Jan
Course Goals: In the Course Goals forum, post a 350 word note that clearly define 5 goals you have for the semester. You will use these goals when you write your final portfolio, so it is important that they are specific. Consider the following: What aspects of craft would you like to improve? What are your strengths and weaknesses with: titling, speaker, characters, setting, theme, tone, structure, imagery, figurative language, and musical devices.
Week 2
27-Jan
Group Orientation 1
29-Jan
Group Orientation 1
1-Feb
Group Orientation 1
Week 3
3-Feb

Reading 1

For all 10 reading assignments you will compose a response to the reading and post it in the Reading Board. In order to receive credit your response must:

meet the word-length requirement of 350 words (or surpass it). This equals one double spaced page in 12 point times new roman.
use short quotes to support your response
provide analysis (using literary terms) rather than summary (retelling)

Chapter 1 and 2
Atwood, Margaret, "Nine Beginnings"
Baker, Will, "My Children Explain the Big Issues"
Baldwin, James, "Notes of a Native Son"
5-Feb

Writing 1

Writings 1-4 are activities designed to produce material for Writing 5, which will be a 5-10 page polished essay. For writings 1-4, please submit your response to the prompt in polished prose form. It will not make a complete story, but it should not be in the form of notes. Write polished prose as a result of the assignment listed.

Writing 1, Scene Versus Exposition

Scene is cinematic. It uses sensory detail and sensory information to recreate experience, generally with location, action, a sense of movement through time, and dialogue. For today's writing, remember a scene that is of the utmost importance to your topic for your first essay. Write the scene with as much fidelity as possible. Have people enter and leave, describe what you saw, heard and felt. Use all the sensory detail you can.

8-Feb

Workshop 1

For all 10 workshops you will compose a response to your group members and post it all together in one post on the Writing Board. In order to receive credit your response to each member of your group must:

meet the word-length requirement of 350 words (or surpass it). This equals one double spaced page in 12 point times new roman.
use short quotes to support your response
provide analysis (using literary terms) rather than summary (retelling)
offer suggestions for revision

Week 4
10-Feb

Reading 2

Chapter 9 The Personal Essay
Bausch, Richard, "So Long Ago"
Beard, JoAnn, "The Fourth State of Matter"
Berry, Wendell, "Entrance to the Woods"

12-Feb

Writing 2, Specificity and Detail

Even in discussing the largest of ideas, our brains engage in the small workings of the senses first. The small sensory details in your essay can therefore do the most work towards representing complex and abstract emotions. For this activity, first make a list of as many unique sensory details as you can in relation to your essay topic (sights, sounds , smells, textures, and tastes). Then write 2 pages of your essay that include those details.

15-Feb
Workshop 2
Week 5
17-Feb

Reading 3


Chapter 3 The Body of Memory
Cooper, Bernard, "The Fine Art of Sighing"
Didion, Joan, "Goodbye To All That"
Dillard, Annie, "Total Eclipse"

19-Feb

Writing 3, Character Development

Write character sketches that include all the unexpected details (instead of the expected details) about the people in your essay.

22-Feb
Workshop 3
Week 6
24-Feb

Reading 4

Chapter 4 Writing the Family
Duncan, David James, "The Mickey Mantle Koan"
Fisher, M.F.K., "The Measure of My Powers" and "A Thing Shared"
Goldbarth, Albert, "After Yitzl"

26-Feb

Writing 4, Dialogue

Write two pages of dialogue that does work: it moves action forward, it characterizes, it adds details.

1-Mar
Workshop 4
Week 7
3-Mar

Reading 5

Chapter 5 Writing the Physical World
Gordon, Mary, "Notes on Pierre Bonnard and My Mother's Ninetieth Birthday"
Hemley, Robin, "Reading History To My Mother"
Iyer, Pico, "Where Worlds Collide"

5-Mar

Writing 5, Essay 1

Please submit a 5-10 page double spaced working draft of your first essay.

8-Mar
Workshop 5
Week 8
10-Mar
Happy
12-Mar
Spring

15-Mar

Break
Week 9
17-Mar
Group Orientation 2
19-Mar
Group Orientation 2
22-Mar
Group Orientation 2
Week 10
24-Mar

Reading 6

Chapter 10 The Lyric Essay
Kingston, Maxine Hong "No Name Woman"
Lamott, Anne,
"Why I Don't Meditate"
Morabito
, Fabio, "Screw" and "Sandpaper"
Mukerjee, Bharati, "A Four-Hundred Year Old Woman"

26-Mar

Writing 6

Writings 6-9 are activities designed to produce material for Writing 10, which will be a 5-10 page polished essay. For writings 6-9, please submit your response to the prompt in polished prose form. It will not make a complete story, but it should not be in the form of notes. Instead, write polished prose in response to the assignment listed.

Writing 6, Description

Strong description does not mean that you remember exactly how something looked, smelled, felt, sounded, or tasted.  Strong description is always partly fiction--meaning that you get to choose details that will work to create a strong dominant impression.  For this activity, choose one place that will appear in your story (you can do this later for all of the places you will describe).  The place should be room-sized so that it is small enough to describe in detail.  First, list 10 objects that appear in that place.  Then add adjectives to the list that help build a dominant impression. Write two pages on your essay topic using those details.

29-Mar
Workshop 6
Week 11
31-Mar

Reading 7

Chapter 6 Gathering the Threads of History
Price, Jennifer, "A Brief Natural History of the Pink Flamingo"
Rekdal, Paisley, "The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee"
Rider, Bhanu Kapil, "Three Voices"
Sanders, Scott Russell, "Buckeye"

2-Apr

Writing 7, Researching

Make a list of facts that inform the topic of your second essay. research one of those facts and add the details of that research to 2 pages of writing on your topic.

 

5-Apr
Workshop 7
Week 12
7-Apr

Reading 8

Chapter 7 Writing the Arts
Sedaris, David, "The Drama Bug"
Selzer, Richard, "The Knife"
Simic, Charles, "Three Fragments"

9-Apr

Writing 8, Music

Music can be a powerful emotional tool in writing. Make a list of several songs that you remember during the period of time when your essay takes place. Then write 2 pages of text with the songs informing the scene and narration.

 

12-Apr
Workshop 8
Week 13
14-Apr

Reading 9

Chapter 8 Writing the Larger World
Staples, Brent "The Coroner's Photographs"
Sutin, Lawrence "A Postcard Memoir"
Walker, Alice, "Becoming What We're Called"

16-Apr

Writing 9, Expertise

Identify an area of expertise you have. It could be as simple as text messaging, or as complex as playing the harp. write a section of your essay where your area of expertise informs the writing.

19-Apr
Workshop 9
Week 14
21-Apr

Reading 10

Chapter 11 The Basics of Personal Reportage and Chapter 12 The Writing Process and Revision
White, E.B., "Afternoon of An American Boy"
Williams
, Terry Tempest, "The Clan of One-Breasted Women"
Woolf, Virginia, "The Death of The Moth"

23-Apr

Writing 10 , Essay 2

Please submit a 5-10 page double spaced working draft of your second essay.

26-Apr
Workshop 10
Week 15
28-Apr
Portfolio First Draft Due
30-Apr
Portfolio Workshops Due
3-May
Portfolio Final Due
Week 16
5-May
Happy
7-May
Summer
10-May
Break

Patricia Colleen Murphy, MFA * Arizona State University * 240M Santa Catalina Hall * 7271 E Sonoran Arroyo Mall * Mesa, AZ 85212