Memoir literary anaylysis

Below are 4 options for Paper #1: Memoir Analysis. All essays are 3-5 pages in length and must be formatted to MLA standards. Please note that there is a research requirement explained at the end of the prompt. The rhetorical purpose of the paper is to not only analyze texts within the memoir genre, but also pose an argument or perspective (thesis) that anchors your analysis, one that other literary scholars can believe valid. Your analysis should be thorough and include quoting and paraphrasing from both primary and secondary sources.

A rough draft is due on Tuesday, February 9, and the final draft is due on Tuesday, February 16.

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Option 1
James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Letter to My Son” (adapted from his book Between the World and Me) are personal essays, published 60 years apart, that explore what it means to be Black in America. In an analytical essay of 3-5 pages, compare and contrast their experiences as well as how they choose to convey their experiences to readers.

Here are some questions that could guide your analysis:
In what ways are their experiences similar? How do they differ, and why?
What conclusions do they draw about their experiences and their reflections on American history?
What kinds of storytelling techniques does each use to effectively convey their story?
What does examining their works together reveal about race and racism in America?

Option 2
In Richard Hoffman’s text “The Ninth Letter of the Alphabet: First-Person Strategies in Nonfiction” (PDF on Blackboard > Quick-Access> Readings), he explains how the “I” perspective manifests in personal essay and memoir in order to help the writer fulfill the roles of participant (character) and observer (narrator). These “I” strategies also aim to build connection between the memoirist and the reader. In an essay of 3-5 pages, analyze the use of these first-person strategies in one of the memoir-essays from this unit.

Here are some questions that could guide your analysis:
What first-person strategies can you identify in the memoir?
What function do the strategies serve in the context of that specific memoir?
How do the strategies inform the roles of participant and observer?
How do the strategies aim to build connection between memoirist and reader?

In order to make effective use of Hoffman’s text, you should consider not only the strategies he catalogs but also the introductory matter he provides about the memoir genre, which is equally important here. For this option, Hoffman’s text does count as your secondary source for the research requirement, though you may find a second if you’d like.

Option 3
Choose one of the memoirs from the unit. In a 3-5 page essay, analyze the memoir by focusing on how it is crafted and how the author gives meaning to their real experience.

Here are some questions that could guide your analysis:
What frame does the author use for the memoir? (For example, Keegan’s frame is her car.)
What storytelling techniques does the author use to engage the reader in the experience?
How does the author make meaning from their experience?
How do specific themes manifest in the story through literary techniques?

Option 4
You are also welcome to propose your own analysis option, which I will happily approve if it is thoughtful and will lead to the same level of work as the previous options.


Research Requirement
In order to extend the analysis beyond the primary sources (the memoirs), you are required to include at least one secondary source for this paper. The secondary source(s) can be either contextual or critical.

A contextual source might include comprehensive information about the author and their larger body of work, the historical context in which the work was written, or details about references to events, people, or places in the work. A critical source will offer analysis and interpretation of the work itself, but remember that a critical source is just one interpretation of the text—one voice in the discussion. The paper you write is the contribution of your voice into the discussion.

Sources should be used in a meaningful way to inform your analysis, and they must be cited correctly in MLA format and appear on your Works Cited page alongside the course memoir(s) that you used.

Evaluate your source’s credibility before choosing to engage with it in your academic wor

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