Create Several Separate Narrative 10Page Body Sto

Create Several Separate Narrative 10Page Body Sto

Create Several Separate Narrative 10Page Body Sto


Upon successfully completing this project you will have:

Practiced the skills of creative non-fiction writing in order to evoke (vs. explain) your own embodied experiences

Close-read specific passages from published literary texts (memoirs)

Utilized theoretical concepts to illuminate the social constructedness of bodies – both in lived experience and narrated form

Designed a braided narrative structure through which to integrate the relationships among the above sources of insight into a representation of your own complex embodiment.



THE WHAT: A braided essay that will draw from analytical, reflective, and creative prompts you will have engaged throughout the quarter.

The final writing assignment in this course will be built from the analytical, creative, and embodied practices that we have engaged throughout the whole quarter. This is often called a “patchwork text” because it will be comprised of prior writing pieces that you will “stitch together” through creative meaning-making and analysis.

Writers of creative non-fiction have developed a similar genre called the “braided essay” in which they create several separate narrative strands (three is an ideal number) that repeat throughout the essay. “There is a sense of weaving about it – of interruption and continuation – like the braiding of bread or hair….the braided form allows for research and outside voices to intertwine with one’s own voice and experience” (from Miller and Paola, Tell it Slant, 126-127). In this case, you will braid outside voices (literary and theoretical) — and your analysis of them — with creative writing that represents your own experience.

Included in your braids will be pieces drawn from the following strands:

Creative Non-Fiction Writing Prompts and Reflection (this should be the leading thread)

Reflections from our in-class somatic practices

Creative non-fiction writing prompts

Any other memoir-style writing you have done in response to this class

Literary Analysis: How the published memoirs resonate with your own BodyStory

Your low-stakes close-readings as well as your formal analysis essay in response to specific passages in the literary texts

Your Canvas posts to specific passages within the three book-length memoir pieces

Other insights about specific literary passages you have developed in your notes or during discussion

Theoretical Insights: How the academic theories resonate with your own BodyStory

Your Canvas post responses to the relationship of specific theoretical ideas to the three long memoir pieces.

Other insights about specific theoretical concepts you have developed in your notes or during discussion

While you may have already written most of the “pieces” that will comprise this essay at various points throughout the quarter, please do not mistake this for a “collage essay” (which places fragments of text together so they resonate organically with each other).

Instead, each “thread” must be developed/revised and placed in relationship to the other threads such that the braids help to shape each thread and demonstrate how inextricably related our own narratives are with theory as well as others’ stories.

This genre is ideal for our course in which we are working to explore bodies in their lived (socially constituted as well as sensory) experiences alongside of theoretical and literary explorations of these experiences. Indeed, as we have seen throughout our analyses of literary memoir this quarter, none of these experiences is separable from the others. That is, our sensory experiences drive the way we tell our own stories (and make ourselves recognizable to others).

Additionally, we experience all bodies (our own and others’) through particular socially categorical lenses, which mediate our reading of memoir as well as the social gaze we cast on individuals in our daily lives. After close-reading published memoirs in relationship to sociological theories that help elucidate these lenses and categories, AND after engaging in reflective and creative prompts to access our own embodied experiences, this final project will be an opportunity for you to integrate this learning into your own BodyStory.

Aim for depth and nuance (as you engage your analyses of memoirs and theory) rather than “coverage” of all of the texts we have encountered (which would result in a hodge-podge collage). And aim for evocative sensory writing that primarily shows rather than tells your bodystory, such that your reader can access your experience more directly. You must then thoughtfully revise (again), structure, (and interweave) the threads so they repeat throughout this essay – allowing for other memorists’ voices (and your readings of them) as well as theoretical insights to intertwine with your own voice and experience of your body.

Your essay, in short, must develop strong threads (from your creative non-fiction scenes, to your analytical passages and to your theoretical insights) to take your reader on a journey that will culminate in a rich understanding of your own complex embodiment (to borrow from Tobin Siebers’ concept) — a braided sum that is greater than each of the threaded parts.

For examples, please see Braided Essay: Description and Examples (on Canvas)

Attached is the example and template plus the description and examples.