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West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

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Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Ambiguity
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates
  Our RITES OF PASSAGE Theme
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
  YOUNG MAN ON SIXTH AVENUE
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  LITERARY SYNTHESIS PROJECT
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Analyzing THE FIVE BEDROOM, SIX FIGURE ROOTLESS LIFE
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

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

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Analyzing WAITING FOR GODOT
  Approaching WAITING FOR GODOT
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Links
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Notes on LEAF BY NIGGLE
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Notes on THE EYE OF THE GIANT
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  About SKIN DEEP
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

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

 
Expressive Writing


PRINTER FRIENDLY

Expressive writing is the kind of writing you do when your primary purpose is to explore and communicate your own personal experience, your own opinions about things, your own response to the world, including the world of reading. The purpose of this kind of writing is to invite readers into your sphere of existence, into your field of vision, inside your mind, up close to your feelings and your experiences. It may be an intimidating form of writing, but also a liberating one—it is always profoundly generous, demonstrating your willingness to share something of yourself.  Other kinds of writing may allow you (or require you) to stay hidden in the shadow of your subject, but expressive writing puts you right out in front.   This is pretty obvious in the following example.  Notice how different the same subject, “protest,” can be approached when you consider writing about it with three completely different purposes in mind.  Notice the one that focuses on the writer:

Expressive: My first political awareness began in elementary school, when I remember buying a silver metal bracelet with the name of a soldier who was missing in Vietnam. This name was mysterious and terrifying to me.  It represented a real person, someone’s father or brother or son, who had lived nearby and who was lost somewhere unimaginably far away.  Wearing this bracelet, I staged my own political protest in a sixth grade assembly; I remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.  The feelings I had then are probably related to my feelings about politics, and about war, today.

Expository: Public protest against the Vietnam War eventually brought that war to an end.

Persuasive: The Iraq War may have been won, but the occupation of Iraq is not sustainable.   Whatever you think about the decision to invade Iraq, we have created a no-win situation for our troops, who are not well enough equipped, not numerous enough, and not welcomed enough by the civilian population.  Every day they are highly vulnerable to attack; the numbers of troops killed and wounded keep climbing, while people here at home are barely encouraged to take notice of their sacrifice.  It’s time to rescue our troops out of harms way.

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

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.

The Call to Write tells you all about the "Open Letter" and the "Memoir," 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. An essay like this uses the literature as a springboard to discuss something about yourself.  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.


 



 

 

 

     

 


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