Memoir Assignment

Memoir Assignment

For a printable copy, click here: Memoir Assignment


Purpose: The purpose for this assignment is to practice the steps of writing a personal memoir.  We will practice the five processes of rhetoric, namely: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.  (To practice memory we will simply use photocopying, computers, note cards, and our mental powers to help us keep track of our research.)


This assignment has 2 parts. In part A, you must write a 6 word memoir. In part B, you have the choice of writing 400-500 words on one of three options. If you choose, you may wait to write on Part A until after you have completed Part B. Writing Part B may give you key words and ideas for Part A.


Follow the guidelines and organize strategies on pgs. 37-38 of Writing Today.


A.  Write a 6-word memoir, following the guidelines on #3 on page 56 of Writing Today. Before you begin to write, browse the following websites for more ideas.

B. For this assignment, you have 3 choices:

(1)   Write a personal memoir that evokes some significant message or theme that you want your reader to understand about you and your life. Choose an event or series of events that illustrate and explore tensions you encountered. Identify a complication or struggle of values. Then show how you evaluated the complication and resolved it. End your memoir by telling your readers what you learned from this experience.


(2)   Write a memoir in which you explore your relationship with another member of your family. Choose an event or series of events that could illustrate that relationship and explore its tensions. Identify a complication or struggle of values. Then show how you and this other family member evaluated the complication and resolved it. End your memoir be telling your readers what you learned from this experience.


(3)   Write a memoir or “story” that has been told so often in your family that it has become “famous.” Briefly, tell the story. Then explain why that story is a favorite. Here are some brainstorming questions. Please write an organized essay. DO NOT simply write a list of answers to these questions.   End your memoir by telling your readers how this story has affected your own life.

  1. What does it mean to those who tell it?
  2. Does it mean the same thing for everyone involved?
  3. When is it told?
  4. What purpose does it serve?
  5. What point does it make about your family—what is its significance?
  6. Do different people draw different meanings from the story?
  7. What general theme does it evoke and why is that theme important for your family?


Invention: Follow the guidelines on pgs 40 and 41 of Writing Today.

Brainstorm a list of topics. Pick one from your list. Make a map of the scene. Create a “story board.” Tell your story out loud to see if it is engaging and fast-paced enough to keep your audience interested.

Do some research. Ask others what they know about the event(s). Sometimes others have interesting view points that you may have missed. Find information and pictures about the Internet about the time period of the experience.

Audience: Think of your audience as your children or grandchildren sometime in the future. Or a spouse. Or your classmates. What might be of interest to them about you. It’s a good idea to think about what is in your world that may not be in the world of the future. For instance, it’s hard to imagine, but the i-pod of today may be a ancient thing of the past pretty soon. Give details, details, details.

Arrangement: Follow the guidelines on pgs 37-38; 42-44 of Writing Today.

Style: In a memoir, style and tone are extremely important. Review the tone in the readings we have done for this Workshop. Is there some irony? Are they serious? What tone do you want to share with your readers? Follow the advice on pgs. 44-45. Make a “Concept Map” to help you create a tone. You will hand this “Concept Map” in with your invention materials.

Revision: RE-invention, RE-arrangement, RE-style: Conduct peer review sessions and revise your drafts.

Delivery: Turn in the paper with the best appearance you are capable of producing.  (Follow guidelines given in the syllabus and in class.) Later this semester, you will post this Memoir to your blog. .

The paper will be 400-500 words long.  It will not be shorter nor longer than that. Check your syllabus for proper formatting of the paper.  If you draw on sources, you must include a  Reference (Works Cited) page should be on a separate page.  Document your sources by following the guidelines of MLA or APA style manuals.

Place your paper in a three-hole paper binder.  Behind your paper, place all drafts and invention and arrangement documents. Behind the invention material, place the photocopies of any articles you actually cited (not all those you collected) in your papers.



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