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ENGL 1B De Anza College Novel Life of Pi Essay


Imagine that we are having coffee and I ask you to select a specific work of art — a song, a movie, a novel, etc. I then ask you: Why is that a specific work of art valuable? And why it important to you personally?


In this essay, you should:

Discuss a single work of art — a single song, poem, novel, film, TV show, etc. And keep your focus on the work of art, not on the artist.

Describe the work of art for your reader. You should assume that they are not familiar with the work of art that you’re writing about.

Carefully analyze specific elements of the work of art that make it interesting, beautiful, valuable, noteworthy. (The video lectures we viewed provide excellent examples of this type of careful analysis.) If you’d like, you may incorporate outside sources to assist with this careful analysis. But outside sources are not required for this essay.

Include a detailed story from your life that shows me why that work of art is important to you.

A personal essay should be just that: personal. You are using your life and your analytical insights — or research — to support the claims that you make about the value of a particular work of art.

I should note that you can decide if you want to begin with the personal story and then transition to the analysis or if you’d like to complete the analysis before ending with the personal story.

  • In the end, your goal should be that I finish your essay with 1) an appreciation for the work of art, and 2) a clear understanding of why this work of art matters to you personally.


Think of your reader as a friend or an acquaintance who has asked you this question. You are not writing for a formal, academic audience but for a general reader who is genuinely interested in your life. (This audience has no problem, of course, with you using “I” in your essay, for example — they want to be addressed in a manner appropriate for a “personal,” friendly context.)


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