A Conversation in the Composition Classroom: Finding Our Voice Through Creative Nonfiction

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Title: A Conversation in the Composition Classroom: Finding Our Voice Through Creative Nonfiction
Author: Osborn, Alice V.
Advisors: Chris M. Anson, Phd, Committee Chair
Lucinda MacKethan, Phd, Committee Member
David Rieder, Phd, Committee Member
Abstract: This thesis is a first-year composition program that integrates the conventions of creative nonfiction and cultural studies to develop first-year students' logical and critical thinking skills, as well as their own voice through reading and writing practice. The curriculum for this semester-length course is grounded in critical theories claiming that personal narratives and students' experiences contain sufficient material to produce academic evidence and support claims. My course is also strongly aligned to cultural studies composition curriculums which use readings as a springboard for uncovering how the dominant culture marginalizes individuals based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Rather than use essays that are all from authors of the majority culture, this curriculum incorporates texts from authors who are all but one from marginalized populations to show students that writers can be people of color. As a result, students will be exposed to race, class, and gender issues in America through these required creative nonfiction readings and throughout the semester, students will practice writing with an effective voice, point of view, and dialogue structure as they form essays that investigate identity and race issues. The proposed curriculum targets average students who may feel intimidated by writing and critical reading and may not be able to find success in a Writing in the Disciplines (WID) composition course where students write in specific academic genres and for particular audiences. In "Presence in the Essay," Gordon Harvey calls an essay a personal⁄textual model when the writer engages with the text as she presents her arguments The personal⁄textual model is rooted in feminist and critical theory and with strong guidelines, it can be an effective tool for the composition classroom, and it is one of the essay models I will use for this course. Students will support their main purpose by weaving their own experiences and reactions to the text into their personal⁄textual essays. My other essay models include the segmented essay and the multigenre essay, and students will also revise two essays, as well as produce a Final Portfolio. During the semester, students will participate in workshopping critiques, they will keep a journal, so that by the end of the semester students should have gained an understanding of the creative nonfiction genre and its ethical conventions. The proposed texts include Rebecca Walker's Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (2001), James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time (1963), Timothy B. Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name (2004) and James McBride's The Color of Water (1996). I chose these particular texts from authors of diverse backgrounds so that students would be able to read these texts as examples and shape their essays around the issues of identity politics and race relations. This course is ideal for a diverse student population and is designed to meet twenty-first century students in their own territory.
Date: 2006-12-01
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/860

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