Paper 3

Our third paper (minimum 1200 words) asks you to theorize and reflect on your identity by drawing on the concepts and perspectives of McIntosh, Febos, Petersen, and/or Royster. These readings direct our thinking in a new direction by offering a broader framework for theorizing our identities and experience. McIntosh helps us look outward toward the larger social structures and dynamics that shape our experience; Febos helps us look inward toward aspects of our experience we don’t always think, talk, or write about; Petersen helps us think about how the pressures of life weigh on us; Royster helps us address personal experience in an academic context.

Your thinking in this paper should look both outward and inward, reflecting on your personal experience and how it fits in a larger social dynamic or context. We want to take our individual experience as meaningful and worth addressing, but we also want to put it into conversation with how identity works more generally. In this sense, you are not making an argument about your identity so much as theorizing how identity works and how it shapes and fits with your experience.

You should accomplish two main things in this paper. First, take up some aspect of your experience and describe it in detail. This might be one specific event or a series of related experiences that happened over time. Either way, include a detailed description and narration of your experience. Second, analyze and reflect on this experience, helping us see how it is significant, how it shaped you as a person and how it adds to our understanding of identity.

As you work toward these two main goals, it will help to take up your experience through the lens of one or more of our readings, focusing on some combination of privilege, merit, trauma, difficult experience, burnout, busyness, exhaustion, etc. You are not required to address the following prompts, but it could help to address one or more of them as you develop your thinking:

  • What are the main aspects of your identity that shape your experience? What does it mean to occupy your various identities? How do your various identities shape your experience in, understanding of, and orientation toward the world?
  • How has your experience embodied a sense of privilege, merit, trauma, burnout, etc.? What was important about this experience for you? What do we learn from studying this experience?
  • How does your experience shape our thinking about identity? How does it shape and add to our thinking about the ideas and concepts from McIntosh, Febos, Petersen, and/or Royster?
  • Try to draw on some of the strategies employed by our writers. For example, you could include a list of experiences similar to McIntosh. Febos and Petersen draw on examples from other people and also make reference to things they have read. Royster looks at different types of experience to capture a larger dynamic. It could help to draw on strategies from our writers or otherwise model your writing on theirs to help develop your thinking.

This paper does not require research, but you are welcome to draw on outside sources if they help you develop your thinking. You can include quotes from McIntosh, Febos, Petersen, or Royster as well. If you do include any sources, be sure to include appropriate MLA or APA citations.