Essay 1 suggestions
You don’t have to answer any of these questions. They’re just prompts to get the ‘juices’ flowing.
Atwood, “First Job”
-Atwood’s manager says about her, “‘She’s got an MA [a Master of Arts degree]’…in a proud but pitying voice” (494). Have you ever had a job where you felt overqualified, unqualified, or both at once? Have you ever gotten into an argument about the value of a university degree in the real world?
Laurence, “Where the World Began”
-Why was the town dump “subtly threatening to the determined and sometimes hysterical propriety of our ways” (166)? Were there any words or subjects that people only talked about indirectly, or never spoke of at all, in your home town? In retrospect, what does that tell you?
-“The dead lived in that place, too” (166): Do the monuments and ‘ghosts’ in Laurence’s essay remind you of the place you grow up? Did you ever want to get away from all that history?
Wainaina, “How to Write about Africa”
Lessing, “On Not Winning the Nobel Prize”
-Question #4 on page 543
-Describe a situation where you realized that the relationship between the industrialized and the developing world, the “haves” and the “have-nots,” wasn’t what you thought it was. What side of the divide were you on? What happened?
Kincaid, “On Seeing England for the First Time”
-What symbols were you taught to respect and revere as a child? How do you feel about them now? What changed? Do you think the people you grew up with feel the same way?
Lai, “Political Animals and the Body of History”
-A personal/analytical response to question 2 or 5 on page 463
Justice, “Fear of a Changeling Moon”
-A personal/analytical response to question 1, 3, 5, or 6 on page 612
-“In short, we’d never dealt with one of the substantive issues the literature itself was expressing” (608): Think about a time when you shared a book, film, piece of music, etc., with other people. Did the relationships within the group change the way you experienced the work of art?
Designs for Disciplines, personal essay chapter
-What do you think Roe and Ouden mean when they claim that the personal essay genre is “complicit with the materialist values of middle-class capitalism” (15)? Discuss, making reference to your own experiences with writing in and out of school.