What are some of your own biases related to this situation?

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Nov 18, 2022


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for the topic idea I would like talk about my depression as a college student
“The Personal is Political” – Carol Hanisch
“The Personal is Political” can be traced back to an essay written by feminist Carol Hanisch. Read a little about the historical context. http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html
The phrase can have many interpretations, but a few key ideas that I’d like you to take away are that the word “political” does not have to just denote government. The word also connotes power dynamics in a variety of social contexts. Essentially, “personal” problems are often a reflection of bigger social issues. This is not to say that people should surrender responsibility for their lives or their problems; however, people should bear in mind that we do not live in isolation. We are not just products of biology, but of culture and environment. The phrase challenges us to see ourselves as part of a bigger picture in place, time, culture, and social hierarchy.
If you choose this option for your final essay, you will compose a research-based narrative that explores issues relating to your own identity, interests and life experiences, that also expresses a thoughtful message (or argument) that you would like to make. In a sense, you will make the personal, political.
The following are just suggestions. You might consider the following topics:
Weight Being a first-generation college student
Race Being an athlete
Health Your career goal
Religion Being a child of divorced parents
Gender Being a veteran
Sexuality Being an artist or musician
Ethnicity Being a “Y”- American
Regardless of the specific topic you choose to write about, there must be a valuable narrative behind it. In this narrative you should explore what this story represents on not only a personal level, but also what it means in a broader, cultural/political context.
For instance, in “The Way We Are,” David Sedaris didn’t write about the time he bought pot in a trailer in North Carolina just for shock value. Rather, he wrote about this to send a message he learned about people’s assumptions regarding gay couples and gender roles. Judith Ortiz-Cofer pieces together a series of vignettes to illustrate her first-hand observations of discrimination against Latinas. Richard Rodriguez writes about his experiences in Mexico and the American education system and shows his perspective on how the instruction of language should be approached. In Alice Walker’s “Am I Blue,” we know that there was more to that story than just a horse, but a profound statement of animal and human rights. We learn a great deal from James Baldwin about the tumultuous time period surrounding civil rights, and we know there was more to Malcolm X’s “Hair” than just an anecdote about a conk.
You should use the following questions to help you begin brainstorming and examining the layers of your personal and social identity:
• What are the different ways that you identify, and how do these qualities intersect (overlap)?
• What conflicts have arisen as a result of your identity (or overlapping identities)?
• What familial, cultural, or social pressures and expectations come along with this identity? How do these expectations coincide or conflict with your own personal values and expectations?
• How does the media influence or react to this identity?
• What people, places or institutions have influenced your identity?
• What assumptions do others tend to make about your identity?
• What assumptions have you made about others (or this topic), and what influenced these assumptions? What are some of your own biases related to this situation?
Your Narrative Must Contain:
Conflict: At the heart of every good story, there is some form of conflict. Without this, our life stories would not be as interesting.
Concrete Language, Specificity, Strong Voice, and Thoughtful Tone: This means that you should choose every word and construct every sentence with care, considering its impact on the overall piece.
Cultural and/or Historical Context: Though the heart of this story is personal, you should also examine how it is “political.” Ultimately this means that your story goes beyond just your private feelings, but examines your relationship with the world, and the significance of events in a particular place and time. (Consider the 5 W’s. Don’t assume that your reader knows where you grew up, your cultural background, or when certain events happened). Context Matters!
Depth and Introspection: Oftentimes, a character in a story undergoes some sort of physical, psychical, and emotional transformation. Powerful personal narratives also contain self-reflection. Examine your own strengths as well as shortcomings, challenges, and assumptions. Do your best to avoid logical fallacies (such as hasty generalizations). Conclusions should go beyond simple clichés, but should show the complexity of issues.
A Main Point and Relate-ability: Ultimately, you must anticipate your audience saying, “So what?” or “Who cares?” Be sure that there is an underlying (if not explicit) point to this narrative, and that your audience can relate to your story and its significance in some way.
You must incorporate at least FOUR outside sources and cite them in MLA format. You will also provide an annotated bibliography explaining why each source is reliable and credible.
For instance, if you’re talking about your experience growing up without a dad, you might want to research the psychological repercussions of fatherlessness. Or if you are talking about body image issues you’ve had, maybe you’d like to find some info about body dismorphic disorder, or simply look up a definition of a term that is important in your story. If you are talking about your experience as an injured athlete, perhaps you’d like to research concussions and safety precautions in your sport. Dialog with your professor and peers will help you to consider what questions to pursue in light of your writing. Your facts should show specific relevance to the narrative and eventually be interwoven into the story.
LENGTH: This narrative should range from 4-6 double-spaced pages.


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