Cultural Identity Assignment #1: Creative Memoir

The editors of, a literary journal that features essays, poetry, and fiction dealing with the broad issue of “identity” have issued a call for short memoirs about cultural upbringings for an upcoming issue. After reading sample memoirs available on the site, you will compose your own creative piece that describes your memories of your upbringing through the lens of cultural identity. Specifically, your task in this essay is to analyze the role elements such as family, friends, neighborhood, ethnicity, language, race, gender, sexuality, history, nationality, religion, the media, etc., have played in forming your cultural identity.

Audience: Readers of

Format: 1000 words (3-4 pages); MLA style

Advice: Since memory is often “selective and creative,” the best essays will include a significant amount of reflection and analysis about what might be missing, forgotten, or invented in your memories of your upbringing, in addition to rich descriptions of specific details of your memories of your cultural background. We’ll spend time in class brainstorming, practicing writing engaging descriptions, working on structure, and refining your thesis.


Type: Present research within the conventions of a genre that is particularly relevant to the course topic

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice selecting and arranging evidence in support of a claim. The reason for requesting a personal “creative” narrative memoir is to connect the theme of the course, cultural identity, to student’s own experiences and to encourage students to experiment with tone and style in their writing.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. In-class writing and discussion to define elements of cultural identity through foundational readings and class discussion, for example: family, friends, neighborhood, ethnicity, language, race, gender, sexuality, history, nationality, religion, the media, etc;
  2. “Previewing” and annotating articles and discussing the difference and intersections between scholarly and literary writing;
  3. In-class writing focused on writing detailed and engaging descriptions and developing a coherent structure;
  4. In-class writing and discussion about using reflection as a rhetorical strategy (see Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay”;
  5. In-class writing and peer review focused on identifying and crafting a thesis.

CulturalIdentity_Assignment1 (doc)

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