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Inner and Outer Journeys: The Project

Page history last edited by paul bonnell 13 years, 4 months ago

Think of Asiemut.  The title of the film comes from the French word for azimuth, a compass bearing.  Think of Henry David Thoreau journeying into the woods of Camden and the forests of his mind.  Think of the Pilgrims heading out across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to an unknown world, faith and fear in hand.


Inner and outer worlds come together in our journeys and our stories.  They can be our own stories as we tell them, or they can be the stories that we make up.  Either way, the process of living and moving, whether it's across the country or world, or merely around the streets of our own small communities, gives us the opportunity to grow and change.  We change outwardly, but more importantly, we change inwardly.


If you are reading A Walk Across America, you know that Peter Jenkins changes with each day as he journeys across America.  He meets new people.  He sees new places.  He questions his assumptions, his doubts, his fears, his prejudices.  He grows as he journeys outward and inward.  With each step he moves.  The work of it works change in his perspectives and wisdom.


If you are reading The Grapes of Wrath, you know that the Joad family changes as it traverses the country, hanging on a thread of hope that circumstances will be better in California.  You also know that the family is torn--hopers, clingers, hangers-on, tough-minded fighters.  Think of the power of the land.  Think too of how the story is not just the story of the Joads; Steinbeck purposefully makes the story that of the migrants, the transients, the Okies, those who were the last to dare and hope and dream for something immense.  Think of the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of crushing human greed.


For both groups of readers, find a way or ways (think creatively!) to represent and/or show the transformation that these characters undergo.  Think of specific scenes in the books.  Also, incorporate specific texts/quotations into your projects.  The Text! Take us to the text!  There's no minimum or maximum on numbers of scenes, but you should include enough for your project to make sense.  Your audience should, at project's end, see how these two undergo a metamorphosis from doubt and fear and anger and self-pity to confidence and ability and humility and strength.


(Here's a side thought: How will your story say the same of you?)

Here's your narrative prompt:


Narrative Essay Prompt

Final due: ______________________


The colonial writers often used narrative to record the events of life.  They would write about experiences they had, places to which they traveled, people they met, events that had an impact on them, etc.  These narratives were historical in presentation, often dramatic in their rendering of events, and sometimes quite personally biased.  Nevertheless, they present snapshots of the history of the times, as will yours of your time.  Think of this: the fastest growing area of graduate study in writing is Creative Non-Fiction.  Think long-term: an MFA at the University of Montana, Pacific University, EWU, SPU, etc.  Even if you don’t intend on writing more narrative or fiction, understanding and being familiar with the techniques of the narrative writer will aid you in exposition.

Narrative’s appeal resides in its foundation in story.  From the shields of the Australian Aborigines, to Malayan puppet theatre, to contemporary film documentaries, to Caedmon, to The Cid, to Homer’s epic poetry, to the oral traditions of the Inuit, to William Bradford, to Sherman Alexie, to Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass, to David James Duncan, to Susan Zwinger, to Herman Melville, to Nathaniel Hawthorne, to Stephen Carter, to Terry Tempest Williams, to Henry David Thoreau, to Alexis de Tocqueville, to Robert Coles, to Doug Hawes-Davis and Drury Gunn Carr, to Bart Paull, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, to Annie Dillard, to Kendall Hailey, to Teri Hein, to Ed Abbey, to Doug Peacock, to George Eliot, to Ivan Doig, to Jack Kerouac, to Barry Lopez, to Pete Fromm, to Erika Shepard, you, and on, and on, and on, stories engage, compel, raise questions, suggest answers, connect our lives to others, foster a moral reflection, make us laugh, cry, seethe, revel, and thank.


Your assignment is to write a narrative essay of 1,750-2,250 words in which you describe something that happened to you, and/or something that you did, and/or somewhere that you went, and/or the people that you met.  What questions arose?  Think of the journey.  Think of the Art of Seeing.  Remember that the Pilgrims kept journals noting the significance of everyday life.

You may use third person like John Smith did if you like.  You may use first person.  Use standard MLA format and type/word process.  Think of the hook, transitions, narrative purpose, and your conclusion.  Think of the elements of fiction and narrative--Character, Conflict, Tone, Symbol, Dialogue, Setting, Theme.  Think of upping the ante.  Think of shifting your tone.  Attitude.  Perspective.  Think of Voice.  What is the lasting impression that you send, the message, the theme, the thesis or central idea?

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