PERSONAL ESSAY: ComS 163 (optional)
For students who are partial to the written word, this assignment provides
a unique space for contemplation and exploration of the "self." According
to Lopate, "The personal essay has an open forum and a drive toward candor
and self-disclosure" (xxiv). It is a form of communication marked
by honesty and confession (while avoiding exposition of dark secrets.)
Honesty and confession are more about how one thinks and responds to the
self and others than about specific acts.
Also, according to Lopate, "Personal essayists are adept at interrogating
their ignorance" because "what one doesn't understand, or can't do is as
good a place as any to start investigating the borders of the self" (xxvii).
The goals of the personal essay are to first understand the dimensions
of the self (sometimes quite contradictory) and then present the fragmentary
personae to the reader in a coherent fashion.
The form of a personal essay is quite variable. However,
your personal essay will exhibit, at least, the following:
1) Use of the pronoun "I;" you will write in the first person
2) Feature your thinking about the self; feature language describing
your cognitive work.
3) Identify conclusions/learning you've drawn from the thinking process.
4) The essay will be a minimum of 5 typed pages
For models of personal essays, see Lopate's The Art of the Personal
Essay on reserve in the library.