Locating Place Essay
Seventeenth-century poet John Donne once argued, “No [hu]man is an island, entire of itself.” In other words, our lives are not separate distinct entities from the lives of others. As Americans, we do not live in a void, but in specific spaces and places, in ever-evolving contexts, in a world with matters at stake more significantly than we generally acknowledge in our day-to-day thoughts and actions.
As responsible world citizens, as educated participants in a hard-won democracy, we must have a critical consciousness about who we are, about what we represent and why, about how we enact these beliefs in the world. We must have a sense of where we are, a sense of how we are situated amidst our families, our communities, our work, our school, our country, and our world.
After all anybody is as their land and air is. Anybody is as the sky is low or high, the air heavy or clear and anybody is as there is wind or no wind there. It is that which makes them and the arts they make and the work they do and the way they eat and the way they drink and the way they learn and everything.—Gertrude Stein
Thinking about the reading, especially Persepolis, and considering how place impacts our perception of the world, my question for you is: how do you experience and understand your place in the world? How do you consciously situate yourself in this world? What is your sense of where you are? How is who you are shaped by the places where you are?
1. Consider your own relationship and experience with the world around you; consider your sense of identity as it relates to place.
2. Think about what physical parts of your life that might represent/symbolize/speak to your own sense of place as you understand it now.
3. Write a narrative in which you speak in some way(s) to the significance(s) of place in your life—in the past, now or in the future. Don’t think of place as necessarily as geographically specific—place might be literal or figurative, local or regional, current or past—however you determine to define it in this context. Part of this narrative might weave in and out of your collected bits, explaining, linking, connecting or making sense of them.
Your audience is a group of educated Americans who will expect you to “place” yourself in the world and give a thorough explanation of “where” you are at.
Writers dig deep: If something bothers or tugs at you as you write, pursue it. There is probably an interesting reason for it. Follow where the writing where it leads.
Writers play on strengths and move towards growth. Challenge yourself to do more than simply report facts in an organized way—think and learn about yourself and what you think about the world through writing.
Writers write and revise into the appropriate forms for their work. Non-traditional forms may be required to express your specific meanings. But, flexibility in form doesn’t mean these projects should be confusing, cluttered, and incoherent. They should flow well idea to idea. They should have a recognizable and readable form. You should, whether you do so in print or not, be able to state your purpose in a few sentences.
Take pride in your work. Proofread carefully and present your work to your audience in a professional manner.
Write a well-developed essay of at least 1,500 words
Demonstrate the ability to think critically about the topic of place
Demonstrate the ability to focus and develop ideas
Develop a sophisticated topic with a clear thesis
Use complex transitions to demonstrate coherence and relationship between ideas
Show a working awareness and sensitivity towards audience
Demonstrate mastery of MLA conventions.
At least four distinct steps in the writing process demonstrated (outline, brainstorming, drafts)
Essay demonstrates ability to develop ideas effectively with superior control and purpose
Evidence of critical thinking about the topic of place
Purposeful organization with smooth transitions
Excellent description and analysis
Strong audience awareness
Demonstrates the superior ability to use correct grammar at a college level of sophistication with ease
Adherence to MLA conventions
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