seemingly “ inconsequential ” matters H u m a n i t i e s

seemingly “ inconsequential ” matters H u m a n i t i e s

Thematic Connections:  Sweat, How it Feels to be Colored Me, Seeing the World Through One Eye

Directions: In an essay of personal narrative, I would like you to write about a situation that has in some important way transformed your view of the world and your place in it.  This essay asks you to consider, perhaps, a profound moment of change in the way you perceive the world. This could cover a broad range of situations and many students choose to write about both positive and negative experiences. The tone of the essay is completely up to you.

I have given you a sample of an essay from one of my favorite authors Zora Neale Hurston. Hailey Miller’s story is also an example, as is my own. Consider each of these essays as an acceptable response to this assignment, as effective samples; but by no means is this the only way to respond successfully. Feel free to write humorously, more seriously or whatever mood seems appropriate to the story you are telling. Don’t forget that, in essence, this is exactly what you are doing—telling a story!

You may choose to talk about a personal experience that has taught you something important about yourself, about others, or even about your perceptions of the world in general.  It doesn’t really matter whether your experience was small or large, since it turns out this is usually only a matter of perspective.

What have been your most meaningful moments? What scenes from your life have made a lasting impression? Try to focus on one situation, as trying to discuss many experiences may prove too demanding. Some of my students say they haven’t had any profound transformational experiences. If you’re one of them, just aim for an experience that left you with a lasting piece of wisdom, even if it seems less than profound. One of the best essays I’ve ever read began with these lines: “My dad kept a pork chop in his pocket at all times. No one knew why. My family is just weird like that.”  By the end of the essay I could barely breathe I was laughing so hard. 

I find that very often the most amazing insights can be found when we pay attention to seemingly “inconsequential” matters.  If your experience moved you in some way, it is likely to do so for your readers as well.

Guidelines: Your essay should be 4-6 pages in length.  Don’t get caught up in counting words or pages though. It should be MLA formatted as well.

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