West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

West Chester University

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Information
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements
  LIT 165 Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assigmments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
  Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Notes on 'Before the Law'
  Samuel Beckett Links
  Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
  Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
  Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
  Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
  DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
  Suggested Readings: Independent Project
  Utopia/Dystopia Links
  Character Analysis: Brave New World
  Analyzing the Brave New World
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on the Brave New World
  A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Dante Links
  Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
  Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
  Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
  Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
  Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
  Introducing Canto I
  Approaching the Divine Comedy
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
  Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
  The Birthmark
  Leaf By Niggle
  Responses to Leaf By Niggle
  'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
  Analyzing the Mythic Tales
  The Four Functions of Myth
  Myth and Metaphor
  Myth - Links
  Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
  'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
  Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
  Alice In Wonderland
  The Metamorphosis

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
  Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
  Commentary: Following Up Your Response
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources
  What is Argument?
  Parts of an Argument
  Casebook Assignment Sheet
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
  Expressive Writing
  Short Stories About Identity
  Thoughts on Stories About Identity
  Poems About Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Mind-map: Identity

ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
  ENG Q20 Syllabus
  Frederick Douglass Excerpt
  Propaganda Analysis
  How to Detect Propaganda
  George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda Analysis Exercise

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

~~ Expressive Writing ~~

What is expressive writing?

Expressive writing is the kind of writing you do when your primary purpose is to explore and/or communicate your personal experience, your opinions about things, your response to the world, including the world of reading. The writing is focused on you the writer instead of an objective subject outside yourself, or on an imaginary reader you want to persuade. For example, here are three ways to write about "protest" in terms of different purposes.

Expressive: My first political awareness began in elementary school, when I remember wearing silver MIA bracelets with names on them. Those names were mysterious and terrifying. I staged my first political protest in sixth grade assembly. I think these early experiences had a lot to do with my political leanings today.
Expository: Public protest against the Vietnam War eventually brought that war to an end.
Persuasive: The Iraq War is as much a quagmire as Vietnam. It's time for us to face reality, admit failure, and leave.

Each of these purposes suggest a completely different way to write about "protest." In an expressive piece of writing, you are writing to discover something about yourself (which the process of reflecting and writing brings forth), and then share that discovery with your readers, who can learn from just as you have.

You may wonder if readers will be interested in reading about you, about your individual experience, about your reflective thoughts and meditations. The answer is that we are. We most definitely are. In fact, personal writing is probably the most enjoyable, most popular form to read and to write. Students who take classes like this usually report that this is the kind of writing they valued most, they enjoyed the most. And it's the same for readers. What's the appeal?

We are always looking for the inside view. The interior picture. When you provide that, you are satisfying our desire to learn more, to know more than what we can learn up here on the surface of things. That's why the novel is such a popular form of literature. It takes us on that journey inside. A great novel, even a merely good one, takes us deep inside the mind and the soul of its main character, and that is satisfying. Memoir does the same thing, except the story it tells is true rather than fictional.

The genres discussed in The Call to Write most directly associated with expressive writing are the "Open Letter" (Ch. 4) and the "Memoir" (Ch. 5). Preparing to write an expressive paper, you should read these two chapters. You'll be able to choose which form you most would like to try for your own paper. You may choose neither, and decide instead to write an expressive "Response to Literature" essay based on one or more of the literary sources we're going to use in this unit.

You'll soon find out what the "Open Letter" and the "Memoir" are all about when you read the chapters in The Call to Write, but what does a "Response to Literature" essay do? How would you write this type of paper?

An expressive response to literature is about seeing your reading as a creative act, a creative process. The text is not independent of you, the reader. It actually depends on you to be its interpreter. Since there is always more than one way to interpret great literature (it's "ambiguous," or "open to interpretation"), it's acceptable even if your interpretation is highly individual, idiosyncratic. When your way of reading something makes it especially rich and meaningful to you, your reflection on it (what you write about it) can become the site of self-exploration, self-discovery, and, like we said before, an excellent basis for an expressive paper which shares that discovery with curious readers. It may be that you deeply identify with one of the characters or ideas, or feelings expressed, and you explore that. It may be that one of the characters particularly repulses you, and you explore that. It may be that the events described make you reflect on a similar experience, or it may be that you want to imaginatively project yourself into something you've read and discover where that takes you. You may draw comparisons or contrasts between yourself and the things you read about; it's very natural to synthesize what you know with what you read. You may want to explore how the reading expands your thinking in some way, how it adds to your experience.

In any case, a "Response to Literature" essay has the potential to be very highly expressive, and it's a choice you can make for your first paper.

What are some of the qualities of good expressive writing?

  • First person point of view (p.o.v.) makes it feel personal, human. Find the voice, the vocabulary, the inflection, the tone that will make your personality come alive on the page. You want your readers to see you as a human being, not a piece of paper.
  • The tools of storytelling come in handy. Use description and narration to make readers feel like they can participate in the experience.

Description is the strategy you use to create a vivid mental image by using sensory language, connotative language, figurative language. The more creative the language is in getting us to see or hear or smell or taste or touch or understand something vividly, the better. Imagery is the heart of description. Make readers see what you see, imagine what you imagine. Take creative risks with your language to make sure you're understood. The better the description, the more effective the expression.

Narration is "storytelling." If you are recalling and recreating an experience, give some thought about the best way to provide the experience for your readers. Do you need to use dialogue? Should you map out which scenes you want to describe in detail and which ones you can quickly summarize so your story is well-paced? Do you need some quick details to describe the people in the story so they'll be vivid for readers and not just names that evoke no particular image? Finding the quick characteristic detail that really describes a person without being long-winded can be a challenge.

Further reading: Read the selections in the file titled "Fitting In" on E-Reserve at FHG Library. From the library's home page, follow the link "Course Materials on Reserves." Then click, "E-Reserves." Then, under "Search for Instructor" select: Tartar-Esch. You will be asked to enter a password to view the course page. Enter the word, "spring." You can print the document or read it online. This document compiles materials from the June and September 2004 issues of The Sun.







Questions? Contact me.

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