Literacy and Language Assignment #2: The Self in Society

“An autobiographical account, despite its subjectivity, provides an important record of events the author has responded to—in short, what has shaped him or her as a social being,” Keith Gilyard writes in his introduction to Voices of the Self. In a quest for such significance, the chronological facts of an individual’s existence are not nearly as important as the psychological facts of forging a life, something autobiographies reveal quite well” (12). Choosing one predominantly autobiographical chapter (2, 4, 6, or 8) and one chapter that focuses on sociolinguistic analysis (3, 5, 7, or 9), compose an analysis that illustrates how a portion of Gilyard’s autobiographical narrative supports and extends a reader’s understanding of some aspect of the societal and pedagogical issue in an accompanying chapter.

Audience: Readers equally interested in Gilyard’s personal experience and his sociolinguistic analysis of it

Format: 5-6 double-spaced pages; MLA style

Advice: The best essays will go beyond discussing the main claims in the essay in order to illustrate how an author’s writing style shapes the content. As with the first essay and with all the reading and writing work we do in this course, you should refer to Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay,” utilizing his terminology and concepts to guide your writing process.


Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension/relationship you see between two parts of a primary text

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice analyzing a pair of textual selections. The aim is to move them beyond identifying the main claim of each chapter to understanding how choices about diction, tone, structure, and use of evidence advance an author’s claims.

Pre-Draft Activities:

1. In preparation for the second assignment, students should summarize Gilyard’s theories of language pedagogy (odd chapters), either individually or in small groups. These summaries will be shared and discussed in class.

LiteracyandLanguage_Assignment2 (doc)

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