Inquiring into Self

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For your ENGLWRIT 112: College Writing class, you as a student-writer may draw on familiar source material: a place that is important to you or an object. By starting with something familiar, you may write your way into the unfamiliar, discovering new insights about yourself and where you come from as a precursor to defining, in subsequent units, how your thinking interacts with that of others. The process, we hope, gives you both these necessary skills and a faith in your own ability as writers.

Unit Goals

  1. To engage in the writing process and thereby gain awareness of writing options and their effects.
  2. To analyze and discover new insights about how context has informed one’s self.
  3. To clarify one’s purpose and to develop an essay through description and reflection.
  4. To craft a personal voice/style tailored to a close audience (i.e., classmates).
  5. To copy edit for an audience.

The lure of choosing the familiar as your subject is obvious: instead of facing the dual challenge of wrestling with language and a new topic, you focus exclusively on honing the craft of your writing. Even if the familiar is the subject of the Inquiring into Self essay, the goal is that through the drafting process, you can focus your revision efforts on, among other things, deepening the analysis and finding new meanings for familiar contexts. Before you write the essay itself, through a process of close inquiry, you can work to bring nuance to the contexts you are writing from.

Place, for instance, can be the obvious choice of your hometown or a micro-setting: a dance studio, a gym, a basement where you played video games with your friends. You will also read published essays of a similar genre. In the Inquiring into Self essay, you can gain this understanding by re-seeing yourself through the lens of the larger contexts you participate in; you recreate your context in specific sensory details before reflecting on it.

You will ultimately compose the first draft of your essays, writing for a close, personal audience (i.e., their fellow class members) and introduce key elements of the rhetorical situation (context, purpose, audience) in a familiar, safe environment.


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UMass Amherst Writing Program Student Writing Anthology by University of Massachusetts Amherst Writing Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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