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GC A Walk Down the Memory Lane and The Streets Lights Project

This assignment asks that you explore a more descriptive, emotional style of writing called memoir. Use the reading on structure of a memoir, the pieces by Cisneros and Shteyngart linked to in our course text, as well as other materials by Hampl, Zinsser, Gay, Lamott, and Obama, to write your memoir.


There are several ways to focus your memoir. You can choose to focus on a memory, a person, an event, a time of transition, or anything else that appeals to you. But this memoir should be more of a snapshot than a life story. I don’t want to know about everything that has ever happened to you up to this point. I want you to choose some piece of your life that is meaningful and write about it in great detail and description. Remember that no matter how you frame your memoir, you should be the main character in this essay.

Using our course materials as reference, draw on personal or community/family memories and artifacts to recreate a specific time, moment, and place through narration and description. Be sure to incorporate a conflict and resolution as well as a bottom line to your essay—a lesson learned or a moral to your story. You’ll also need to use other elements of memoir like plot, character development, setting the scene, and dialogue in this assignment.

That being said, I encourage you to think of topics that are linked to current events in our country and your experience with them. You may wish to use this as an opportunity to reflect on your experiences and create a narrative about topics like:

  • COVID-19/Quarantine
  • Police brutality
  • The Black Lives Matter movement
  • Recent protests related to social justice and systemic racism
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling to protect LGBTQ+ employees

You do not have to choose one of these topics—your memoir topic can be on just about any topic you wish as long as it is appropriate for the classroom (remember this will be shared with and reviewed by your peers). I have had many students write successful memoirs about childhood memories, their first day of college, moving into the dorms, a study abroad experience, or other memorable times with friends and family. Just remember that your memoir must have a plot, characters, conflict, and theme. It must also contain rich descriptive paragraphs and a clear lesson learned. Why was this such an important part of your life?

In your memoir, you are expected to:

  • Choose a topic that is appropriate for academic memoir writing (remember that you will be sharing this with the entire class)
  • Create a clear and cohesive plot with characters and a conflict that is overcome by your main character (you!)
  • Use sharp details and vivid description (use all five senses when possible)
  • Use Cisneros’ and Shteyngart’s pieces as a lens through which to write your own memoir
  • Use your memoir to demonstrate a good understanding of this new writing situation
  • Avoid clichés and stilted sentence structures and phrasing
  • Use proper grammar, proofread closely, and polish your writing
  • Create a strong, cohesive, and clear piece of writing
  • Incorporate a lesson learned or moral to your story (theme)


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