Rhetoric and Writing Studies/ Memoir

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Project 1: Memoir

Memoir (personal writing situation)

Patricia Hampl’s “Memory and Imagination”

of the Assignment:

To give you the experience of writing a narrative argument within the
constraints of a particular rhetorical situation.


this assignment, I would like you to narrate personally meaningful,
specific events that influenced your choice of major and/or career.
You may use Hampl’s memoir as a guide. The piano lesson she
describes took place over a short period of time. (The rest of her
chapter discusses what she learned from the process of writing a

are only four essential components you need to include in your

  1. Background that establishes the context in which the events that
    influenced your choice of major and/or career occurred. Here you’ll
    use subjective description (e.g., feelings, perceptions, emotions)
    and objective description (e.g., place and people names, dates,
    colors, shapes, textures, etc) to place the narrative in a context.
  2. The significant events that influenced your decision to choose a
    particular major and/or career.
  3. An evaluation of those events. What did you learn from them? How
    have these events changed your life? How do you look at life
    differently now?
  4. A message (your argument) you wish to convey to your audience.

I say there are only four essential components you need to include in
your narrative, I mean that you have freedom to decide what to
include and in what order you would like to present these components
Furthermore, autobiographical narratives can be enhanced by dialogue
(conversations between people) and dialect (the actual words and ways
that people say them in conversations).

in mind that you are writing to an audience that does not know you,
so what do you feel is necessary for you to include in your narrative
so the reader can fully understand what you have written?

paper will be about 4 to 6 pages long, double-spaced. To give you
some ideas, I’ve placed some examples of memoirs in this area of
our Blackboard site.

Criteria for Evaluation:

  • Does your memoir narrate an event that had strong personal meaning
    for you?

  • Is it coherent and cohesive?

  • Is your memoir interesting, with vivid descriptive passage and sharp

  • Have you utilized your memoir in a way so that your message is
    conveyed clearly to your audience?

  • Is the language of your narrative clear (i.e. easily accessible to
    the readers), concrete, and appropriate to your purpose?

  • Do you avoid clichés and stilted sentence structures and phrasing?

  • Are your grammar problems few enough and insignificant enough that
    they don’t get in the way of understanding? For instance, is your
    narrative developed in complete sentences? Are subject-verb,
    pronoun, and verb tense agreement errors rare? Are spelling errors

305W Outcomes Met with This Assignment


  • Analyze the
    details of a wide variety of writing situations (textual elements
    such as tone, evidence, organizational patterns, diction, even
    visuals) according to the author’s purpose as well as the
    audience’s needs and tastes

  • Actively read
    texts using a variety of reading strategies such as annotation,
    visual organizers, questioning, and discussion

  • Identify how
    a writer uses rhetorical strategies in various genres of writing

  • Interpret,
    analyze, and evaluate demanding texts

  • Apply
    critical thinking skills and reading strategies to evaluate their
    own writing

  • Reflect on
    their own progress as a working writer in relation to critical
    thinking and reading strategies

  • Develop
    flexible strategies for creating, revising, and editing texts

  • Critique
    their own texts

  • Write with an
    awareness of audience and purpose

  • Identify how
    discourse communities employ particular strategies for conveying,
    researching, evaluating, and presenting information

  • Analyze and
    choose the appropriate conventions for a range of audience

  • Sustain
    reasonable correctness in grammar and mechanics to perform well in a
    variety of writing contexts and professional settings

  • Critically
    analyze a variety of texts produced for public and individual


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