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Autoethnographic Essay on Citizenship and Democracy

Autoethnographic Essay on Citizenship and Democracy 

2-3 pages, double-spaced, one-inch margins, Times New Roman. You will write a short autoethnographic essay on some aspect of your understanding/experience of citizenship. This might be your perspective on what good citizenship means or it might reflect on your first memory/idea of citizenship. It might be your analysis of a democratic or non-democratic experience. It might analyze a way in which your understanding of citizenship has shifted in response to a specific reading, class discussion, reflection on a current event (in the U.S. or elsewhere), or with respect to other experiences in your life. The essay must be linked to at least one relevant major text from our assigned course readings and include at least one relevant piece of textual analysis/evidence from this major text. Your essay will include two main components: a vivid story from your life, and an analysis that draws on that story to develop the idea of citizenship. Strong papers will not only apply the idea of citizenship to explain first-person stories but will also develop a thesis statement. Thesis statements may articulate how citizenship in the U.S. is lived and experienced; they may argue about an aspect of citizenship; or they may disagree or specifically affirm an aspect of our other readings this semester using the idea of citizenship and your story as evidence. Excellent papers often add to, amend, or critique class readings. Introduction a “hook” that captures your audience’s attention. This might be an image, an anecdote, a quote/epigraph, an irritation – something that orients your reader to the richness of your autoethnography and personal experience. enough background information to orient your reader to your topic without including so much that the paper becomes top heavy. a mapping sentence or other way of presenting the organization of your essay. (“This essay will address…. by…”). Students often mistake mapping statements for thesis statements. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that rephrasing the assignment can serve as your thesis. A thesis makes a specific, contestable argument rather than saying something like “this paper will explore the role of citizenship in structuring life in the U.S.” a thesis that presents, in a single sentence, the argument your essay does. Strong papers often use personal experience and course readings to analyze the idea of citizenship, as well as drawing on the idea of citizenship to explain their story. You might consider what you would want to extend, amend or critique about the idea of citizenship. Your Story Your story should use descriptive imagery. Imagine your story as you write it to help you convey the images from your memory. A strong paper may draw on sensual detail to engage the reader: consider taste, smell, sound, touch, and visual detail as you flesh out your story. Use first person; this is your story, you should feel comfortable allowing your voice to come through. A strong paper will take some time to develop the depth of characters so we really get to know who they are and what motivates them (including yourself). The story should set the scene, yet not take up the bulk of your essay. Remember to tell your story fully but also leave room for your critical analysis. Usually one third of the essay is reserved for people’s stories, and the rest devoted to citation, summary, analysis, and supporting the thesis. Analysis Analyze the event you narrated, emphasizing how story and concept illuminate your thesis. Strong papers will clearly explain how the idea of citizenship helps you to understand and read your story in a new way, and how or why that matters in the current political context. Conclusion This section will begin by concisely re-stating main points from the essay as a whole. Conclusions will also consider how the concept and the event shed light on each other. You might consider some of these questions: What did you learn about your life story through examining the idea of citizenship? What did you learn about citizenship when you examined it through your life story? Did this assignment make the concept more concrete, for example? Expose its complexities? Did it illuminate an under-considered aspect…? A strong paper might suggest ways to refine, expand or amend course concepts so that they better reflect experiences. See if you can move past flatly defining the idea of citizenship to get into a deeper discussion about how the concept helps us make meaning and what it lets us see (or doesn’t let us see). Diction and Mechanics clear and crisp sentences; avoidance of run-ons correct syntax and grammar a distinct style that suits your rhetorical aims (humor, liveliness and creativity are always welcome!) Proper citation


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