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Assignment: Women’s Work Experience Through Personal Narrative

If you had to learn about women working in the U.S. public school system in the 1950s and could read a textbook chapter on the subject or read 20 interviews of women telling their stories in their own words, which would you choose? If you read both the textbook and interviews, which one do you think you would remember? Most likely you would remember the women’s personal stories. The sharing of personal experience to communicate information captures a different level of attention and has a way of securing a place in the long-term memory of the reader. A personal narrative is a story about a personal experience of the writer. In this week’s Assignment, you examine women’s work experience through personal narrative.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Think about how you would describe women’s work experience based on your own personal, family, and/or social experience.
  • Review the Sojourner Truth and Ensler readings from this week’s Learning Resources. What does Truth say directly about women’s work experience? What can you infer about women’s work experience from Ensler?
  • Review Carpenter-Aeby’s article for an example of personal narrative.
  • Truth’s and Ensler’s works are considered examples of personal narrative. What makes these works memorable? How effective are the authors in getting their point across to their respective audiences? What literary techniques do the authors employ to engage the audience?
  • Consider whether Truth’s or Ensler’s messages would be more or less powerful if it were in another literary form, such as an essay or a short story, instead of a personal narrative. Why or why not?
  • Review postings from this week’s Discussion to identify examples of personal narrative in song lyrics regarding women’s work experiences.

The Assignment:

Compose 1–2 pages responding to the following:

  • What meaning did Truth’s “Look At Me! Ain’t I A Woman?” and Ensler’s In the Body of the World add to your understanding of women’s work experience? Evaluate the effectiveness of the literary form of personal narrative.
  • Relate the case in the Carpenter-Aeby article to your analysis. What does this article reveal about the power of the personal narrative that is also evident in the works of Ensler and Truth?

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