Narrative Analysis and Criticism Instructions
Memoir Review: Analysis and Criticism
For this assignment, you will choose any fairly short memoir piece that you find issue with in some way.
The narrative must present itself, explicitly or implicitly, as a memoir (an autobiographical story). This assignment is meant to exercise your ability to critically challenge issues with narration: incoherent storytelling, insincere narration, poor development, ineffective narration, or anything else that strikes you as ineffective narration/storytelling. The memoir you choose need not be lengthy because it would be impractical to analyze a reading more than 5-10 pages for the weight of this assignment. You may take a short excerpt out of a longer work, but be sure the excerpt stands alone, and be sure to distinguish the excerpt from the larger work for me in some way: a page range, copy and paste the excerpt in the comments, etc.
This paper requires two parts:
A synopsis of the story you read. Refrain from judgement in this section. Simply answer the essential who, what, when, where, why, how questions in a paragraph or two to give me a quick summary of the story you read (you do not have to literally answer those questions—feel free to write free).
A critical analysis of the author’s writing. Apply the concepts we’ve discussed in class so far, plus any other writerly insights you may have, to rate the effectiveness of the author’s narrative. Primarily, I’m looking for you to identify strengths and weaknesses in two major areas: content and style.
For content, think along the lines of: Is there adequate development of story arc, characters, theme, etc? Are there adequate details? Are details cohesive and relevant to a clear and present theme? Etc. For style, think along the lines of: Are the narrative elements (action, description, exposition, communication/dialogue) used effectively? Are scene and summary used effectively? Are paragraphs organized in a coherent and cohesive way, or otherwise used effectively? Are sentences well- constructed and effective? Etc.
Note: Please do not solely answer these questions directly, but rather use them as a starting point. I care far more about your independence of thought, and ability to independently analyze and offer criticism, than I do about any specific points. If you can show me that you are doing that, I’m generally satisfied.
You may choose any non-original memoir/creative non-fiction piece, preferably under 10 pages, as long as it is freely available on the Internet. You may take an excerpt out of a longer work only if it stands alone, meaning a clear story arc is present in the excerpt alone without knowing the rest of the work. The term “memoir” perhaps most often refers to longer, novel-length works, so often shorter memoirs are not called memoirs but rather “personal essays,” “narrative essays,” or even simply “creative non- fiction.” I’m not concerned what the piece calls itself as long as it is a non-fiction autobiographical story that focuses on storytelling/narration as the primary mode of delivery.
Be sure to include the link to the narrative under review in the comments section of this dropbox when you submit your paper.
Originally posted 2017-11-01 14:19:18.