SOLUTION: CSUSM Memoir Coronavirus Pandemic Personal Memories Nonfiction Narrative Essay

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Project #2: The Memoir

This assignment asks that you explore a more descriptive, emotional style of writing called memoir. Use the reading on structure of a memoir, the pieces by Cisneros and Shteyngart linked to in our course text, as well as other materials by Hampl, Zinsser, Gay, Lamott, and Obama, to write your memoir.

Instructions:

There are several ways to focus your memoir. You can choose to focus on a memory, a person, an event, a time of transition, or anything else that appeals to you. But this memoir should be more of a snapshot than a life story. I don’t want to know about everything that has ever happened to you up to this point. I want you to choose some piece of your life that is meaningful and write about it in great detail and description. Remember that no matter how you frame your memoir, you should be the main character in this essay.

Using our course materials as reference, draw on personal or community/family memories and artifacts to recreate a specific time, moment, and place through narration and description. Be sure to incorporate a conflict and resolution as well as a bottom line to your essay—a lesson learned or a moral to your story. You’ll also need to use other elements of memoir like plot, character development, setting the scene, and dialogue in this assignment.

That being said, I encourage you to think of topics that are linked to current events in our country and your experience with them. You may wish to use this as an opportunity to reflect on your experiences and create a narrative about topics like:

  • COVID-19/Quarantine
  • Police brutality
  • The Black Lives Matter movement
  • Recent protests related to social justice and systemic racism
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling to protect LGBTQ+ employees

You do not have to choose one of these topics—your memoir topic can be on just about any topic you wish as long as it is appropriate for the classroom (remember this will be shared with and reviewed by your peers). I have had many students write successful memoirs about childhood memories, their first day of college, moving into the dorms, a study abroad experience, or other memorable times with friends and family. Just remember that your memoir must have a plot, characters, conflict, and theme. It must also contain rich descriptive paragraphs and a clear lesson learned. Why was this such an important part of your life?

In your memoir, you are expected to:

  • Choose a topic that is appropriate for academic memoir writing (remember that you will be sharing this with the entire class)
  • Create a clear and cohesive plot with characters and a conflict that is overcome by your main character (you!)
  • Use sharp details and vivid description (use all five senses when possible)
  • Use Cisneros’ and Shteyngart’s pieces as a lens through which to write your own memoir
  • Use your memoir to demonstrate a good understanding of this new writing situation
  • Avoid clichés and stilted sentence structures and phrasing
  • Use proper grammar, proofread closely, and polish your writing
  • Create a strong, cohesive, and clear piece of writing
  • Incorporate a lesson learned or moral to your story (theme)

Other Guidelines:

  • Your memoir should be 4-5 pages long (not including the title page or references page)
  • It should be in Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced
  • Please use APA or MLA formatting guidelines for your memoir
  • If you use outside sources in your memoir, please use in-text citations and a reference or works cited page. However, no references are required.

Grading Criteria:

  • Does the memoir adequately use descriptive language?
  • Does the author incorporate appeals to all five senses (sight, scent, taste, touch, sound)?
  • Is there significant character development in the memoir? Do we get to know the characters present in this narrative enough for us to care about what happens to them?
  • Is the conflict in the memoir clear? Can your readers see how the conflict happened, how it was resolved, and what you learned from it?
  • Does the memoir contain a universal truth? A moral to the story or “lesson-learned”? Can your readers relate to it?
  • Does that memoir have a clear theme? Is this theme adequately developed throughout the memoir?
  • Is the plot clear and easy to follow?
  • Is the memoir revised, proofread, and polished?
  • Does the memoir meet all assignment guidelines (length, format, etc.)?

3 topics you can choose from

My first potential topic for my memoir will focus on my experience with attending my first semester at SDSU during a pandemic. I plan on discussing my struggles with having to completely switch to online classes which I was not used to. Having to sit through lectures and take tests online has been challenging to do while being at home. My biggest struggle has been trying to find a quiet place to study because I have a large family and they have all been home due to the pandemic. I’m sure many people will be able to relate to this topic because they have had to move back home due to the campus being closed.

My second potential topic for my memoir will focus on my experience with having to witness my father having a heart attack. This was an eye-opening event for me because it shows that anything can happen when you least expect it. I’m sure many people can relate to this because it’s always difficult having to cope with a family member getting sick.

My third potential topic for my memoir will focus on the passing of my grandfather. This was an emotional experience for my entire family because we were all so close to him. I’ve never experienced a death prior to my grandfather’s so it affected me a lot. It happened so quickly and we were not prepared for it. Many people can relate to this because it shows that life is too short and you have to spend as much time as you can with your loved ones.

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