Auto-ethnography or Writer Self-portrait ... - Van Piercy's Blog

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Dec 13, 2013 (4 years and 5 months ago)


Van Piercy/English 1301|

Portrait as a Writer

Typed, double
spaced, titled, one
inch margins
, stapled

Length: 750 words minimum


For this assignment, you will conduct a study similar to those conducted by Perl (you might also look at
Berkenkotter's essay in our textbook), but instead of looking at someone else
's writing process
, you will
examine yourself

and your own writing processes
and write an autoethnography or self
portrait in
which you describe them. Your method will be to reco
rd (with diary, audio, or video
video is
recommended as it will give you the most data
) your total writing processes as you complete your
“Portrait of a Writer” assignment for this class. Your purpose is to try to learn some things about your
actual writi
ng practices that you might not be aware of, and to reflect on what you learn using the terms
and concepts you’ve read about for our class.

Awareness is the key and we are simply trying to build it: Accurate, objective data about your writing
process, seei
ng and analyzing all the things that are going on, not going on, or that could go on while
you write, can be a surprisingly powerful step to improving your writing and your success with writing.


Part One: Portrait of a Writer:


is the assignment during which you will record your writing process. For this assignment, use what
you have read in this unit to consider the story you have to tell about yourself as a writer.
Did anything
that we have read
strike you as new, improbabl
e, useful, important, or puzzling?
What do you
know about writing and what are your practices?

Who are you as a wri
ter? How do you see
yourself when you write?
Is that self
perception helping you be the best writer you can be, helping you
lish your lo
nger range

goals? (No one needs to be reminded that being able

to write well is
invaluable to academic success and in
a variety of professions.

How have the “writing rules” you have
learned shaped your relationship with writing?

The purpose

of this assignment is for you to step back and consider yourself as a writer, applying what
you have learned in this unit to better help you understand why and how you write, and how you mig
write differently, all with the goal of

trying to
understand y
ourself differently as a writer. Remember to
record or take notes of yourself every time you write/plan for this assignment. Consult your journal and
pages 322
327 in
the textbook for additional information

and questions for reflecting on your writing.

art Two: Presenting your findings

After you analyze your writing process through your “Portrait of a Writer,” you are to present your


in the form of a formal paper. R
emember that you need to incorporate the strategies and
concepts from the assigned

readings in class into your paper (any meaningful citations you can provide
will help your grade)
, and that you should take the analysis of y
our writing process seriously and

scientifically. You as a writer are the object of study here. Observe this wri
ter working
. You are the
anthropologist and the native
. Describe what you see (not what you want to see
the video recording
will help immensely with that
). Teach the reader and yourself the things you found during your study of
your writing process.


You will be assessed on the detail of your findings, the amount of information you discuss about writing,
how much data you provide, and how much you work to process that data in the form of your writing
process code, tables, and the detail of yo
ur data analysis.



You will be writing a “Portrait of a Writer” paper (discussed below). As you write this paper, you will

record yourself (video or audio

or journal) as you say your thoughts aloud (think of Spongebob!). Though
this meth
od may seem awkward at first, keep working on it, and record yourself even when you are
thinking about or planning your paper, and as you revise. Note the variety of moves or behaviors you
exhibit while "writing."


When you have completely finis
hed writing the paper, review the recording of yourself and transcribe it.
This means typing everything that you said or noted, even the “ums” and “ahs.” (This is easier to do
with a digital audio or video recorder, but can be done as you takes notes of y
ourself writing.) Type up
this transcription to use for your analysis.

these typed transcripts to
your paper, double
in an Appendix (cf. the appendices to Clayton Stark's paper).


Once you have a
, you'll bring

to class

with your first draft;

we will be working to develop
a code for your analysis. We will be noting the areas where you stop in your writing process, areas
where you rant, and areas where
you are distracted (among other things

Again, r
er to include
your data, your transcript, as an appendix to your writer’s self
portrait paper.


Once you ha
ve coded the transcript (see Perl, pp. 196
, and Stark, pp. 282 and 290
, go back and

at what you did. What is

about what you found? What immediately jumps out at you? Did
you do some things a lot, and other things rarely or never?
What patterns have your d
iscovered about
your practice?
How does your analysis suggest you compare to
Perl's portrait of
Tony or Stark
's portrait
of himself
? Use these findings to write the “Presenting your findings” portion of this assignment (see