The Modern and Contemporary Autobiography At its core, modern and contemporary literature pushes conventional boundaries and reflects the various values and beliefs of the individual, the time period

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The Modern and Contemporary Autobiography

At its core, modern and contemporary literature pushes conventional boundaries and reflects the various values and beliefs of the individual, the time period, and the influential events surrounding the time period. For your modern and contemporary autobiography, we are asking you to also explore and reflect upon your values, beliefs, and the world around you through 3 separate narratives:

· Narrative Assignment 1: Six-Word Memoir

· Narrative Assignment 2: Random Autobiography

· Narrative Assignment 3: This I Believe Prose or Letter to Self (Your choice!)

Final Compilation of three narratives due: Monday, May 15 in class

  • Even if you are absent, it is due on this day. Not turning it in will result in 10% off each day until it is submitted.

  • It will not be accepted after 5 days and will receive a 0. Remember, this is a graduation requirement.

Modern and Contemporary Autobiography

Assignment Summary:

You will create a modern and contemporary autobiography that consists of three separate narratives. The narratives reflect the most significant stories about yourself and create a compelling picture of you and your life, your values, and your beliefs

Writer’s Purpose:

Utilizing different modes of writing, you will tell a compelling personal story.

Writer’s Role:



You are writing for yourself, friends, family, loved ones, future self, etc.


Your Modern and Contemporary Autobiography will hand in the following separate narratives. Please see assignment sheets for more specific directions.

□ Title page

□ 6-word memoir

□ Random Autobiography*

□ Letter to Self OR This I Believe*

*If you wish to present this in a different form (Film, podcast, or any other artistic mediums) you have the opportunity to do so but you MUST meet with your teacher to review your concept and get your idea approved.


In all of the narratives, you will be assessed on the following criteria:

  1. The narratives must feel complete and have a compelling, interesting, and refined focus

    1. Craft language to convey a sophisticated and evident voice

    2. use sensory details and figurative language to engage reader

    3. Manipulate structure, syntax, and punctuation when necessary

  2. The impact on your life is clearly evident and supported throughout the text

Grade: 100 total points

Your overall grade for each assignment will be based upon the criteria above and will be at the discretion of the teacher as well as following the requirements for the specific narrative.

* Remember, your narratives must be interesting and memorable.

  • 6-word memoir: 25 points (Needs to include the visual!)

  • Random Autobiography: 25 points

  • Letter to Self This OR This I Believe: 50 points

Total: 100 points

Narrative Assignment #1: The Six-Word Memoir
What is a six-word memoir? It can be funny, sad, insightful. It’s the core of your self. It’s how you see your life. It is a finely cut diamond; the heart of a peeled artichoke.”

Dean Kahn, The Bellingham Herald (March 30, 2008)

  • Write THREE six-word memoirs

  • Choose the best one and ILLUSTRATE what you are trying to express.

Capture yourself in six words. Be creative and have fun!

FCAs (writing grade):

  • THREE six-word memoirs—must be six words—no more; no less.

  • Choose one six-word memoir and create an image/illustration that truly depicts the ideas present in your six-word memoir.

  • The 6 words must have a compelling, interesting, and refined focus

    • Craft language to convey a sophisticated and evident voice

    • use sensory details and figurative language to engage reader

    • Manipulate structure, syntax, and punctuation when necessary

  • The impact on your life is clearly evident and supported throughout the text

Six-word memoir 1: ____/5 points

Six-word memoir 2: ____/5 points

Six-word memoir 3: ____/5 points

Illustration: ____/10 points
Total Points: _____/25 points


“I still make coffee for two.”

“He told stories like no other.”

“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.”

“Seven generations, four letters, one family.”

“You’re the only person I’ve told.”

Narrative Assignment #2: Random Autobiography

Write your own random autobiography to introduce yourself. It should be 1-2 pages typed, single-spaced.

Remember you will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • The narrative must feel complete and have a compelling, interesting, and refined focus

    • Craft language to convey a sophisticated and evident voice

  • It should use sensory details and figurative language to engage reader

    • Your language should be purposeful!

  • Manipulate structure, syntax, and punctuation when necessary

  • The impact on your life is clearly evident and supported throughout the text

Total Points: ____/25 points

Random Autobiography: Brainstorming Tips and Sentence Starters

Begin by making some lists:

· Make a list of the towns and states you have visited or lived in. Put a note

about what you saw or did there.

· List animals you’ve touched or petted. When? Where? What did it feel like?

· List the historic events you have witnessed. These can be neighborhood,

city, state, national or international

· List things you’ve lost

· List some odd things you have experienced

· List places you have shopped and things you have bought

· List memorable things you have seen happen in your life

· List a few favorites, whatever comes to mind

· List places that are special to you and a few details about each.

Combine some of the opening lines below with ideas in your lists.

Prompts for the Random Autobiography

The place I love the most

I live for

I threw

I lied about

One time on my birthday

If I could

I wish

I’ve thought about

I have stepped on

I think of

I dream of

I forgot

I have eaten

I miss

If I had three wishes

I’ve lost

I was never so sad as when

I wonder

When I went camping

I believe

I dared

I’ve opened

I have fallen asleep on

I want to

I look up to

I’ve traveled to

When I was little I wanted

I rode

One time my dog/cat/bird/horse

My dad is

I’ve tried

My mom is

It’s really awkward when

I’ve been dared to

My most embarrassing moment was when

I have prank-called

I never

I have worn

I live for

I stepped on

I smelled

I want to be

I can’t stop

I lied about

I woke up to

I’m scared of

I hate

I hope

I wish I could forget

I’ve closed

Narrative Assignment #3: Choose one: Letter to Future Self OR This I Believe

Choice A: Letter to Future Self

Assignment Summary and Rationale

Having finished reflecting on your life, in order to truly capture yourself, you must now do some preflecting* as well. Thus, you will compose a Letter to Your Future Self for your autobiography. This should serve as a capstone, articulating the way you are now and the way you foresee your future

*predicting your future reflection

Writer's Purpose

The purpose of doing this “Letter to Your Future Self” are:

  1. To provide a record of your life and who you are now

  2. To anchor in time your current views, attitudes, philosophy, and outlook

  3. To explore your feelings, values, and opinions about a variety of issues

  4. To explore your hopes, dreams, goals, and plans for the future.

  5. To create a document that, years from now, will have significant value to you


You will be writing a 1-2 pg. letter – single-spaced

Use “today’s date” for your letter.

***For fun, you can bring in a stamped envelope & we’ll send you your letter in 10 years.


This “Letter to Your Future Self” has six parts:

  • Who I am, what I like about myself; what I don’t like about myself; what I’m proud of; what I think about; what bothers me; problems, obstacles, concerns, likes, dislikes, joys, frustrations; my hopes, fears, dreams, etc.


  • a description of: my home, bedroom, school, neighborhood, town; my favorite places to go; pet(s), possessions, clothes, religion, current events; FAVORITES – books, music groups, movies, TV, etc.


  • my hobbies, pastimes, sports, school activities; activities that de-stress me, activities that empower me; activities that make me feel more confident; favorite snacks and foods; how I spend my weekends and vacations; special activities I do, organizations I belong to, etc.


  • my family, siblings, aunts & uncles, grandparents, friends, best friend(s), teachers, romantic interest, “him” or “her”, who I like, people who empower me, people who inspire me; people I’d like to know better, people I admire and respect, important people in my life, people who annoy me, etc.


  • where I was born, where I lived, growing up, childhood accidents, childhood memories, schools I attended, previous pets, trips I’ve taken, important events in my life so far, former friends, former teachers, teams I played on, previous romances, how these events people and places have contributed to who you are today etc.


  • predictions, what I want to do, my short and long range goals, what I’m looking forward to; what I’m dreading; my goals, my hopes and fears for the world; summer vacation, high school, college, marriage, employment, outlining a plan of action including potential obstacles and strategies to stay focused, etc.

This “Letter to Your Future Self” is for you, and it should deal with the elements and aspects that are important and real in your life – the good, the bad, and the ugly! The more honest you are with yourself, the more you will appreciate and value your LTS in years to come.

Narrative Assignment #3: Choose one: Letter to Future Self OR This I Believe

Choice B: This I Believe The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men & Women

Assignment Background

In the 1950s, journalist Edward R. Murrow hosted This I Believe, a weekly radio series inviting listeners “to write about the core beliefs that guide your daily life.” At a time of political and cultural anxiety, the show asked Americans—known and unknown—to articulate their personal philosophies of life. And millions of Americans “sat by their radios and listened to This I Believe. For five minutes each day, they heard from statesman and secretaries, teachers and cab drivers, all of whom spoke about their most deeply held beliefs” (Parrott).


Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. The shorter length forces you to focus on the belief that is central to your life.


What do you believe?

This will be challenging—it requires intense self-examination, and many find it difficult to begin. To guide you through this process, use the following guidelines:
Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heartwarming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.
Be positive: Say what you do believe, not what you don’t believe.
Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. Read your essay aloud to yourself several times, edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief.

The Art of Being a Neighbor, by Eve Birch
I used to believe in the American dream that meant a job, a mortgage, cable, credit, warranties, success. I wanted it and worked toward it like everyone else, all of us separately chasing the same thing.

One year, through a series of unhappy events, it all fell apart. I found myself homeless and alone. I had my truck and $56.

I scoured the countryside for someplace I could rent for the cheapest possible amount. I came upon a shack in an isolated hollow, four miles up a winding mountain road over the Potomac River in West Virginia.

It was abandoned, full of broken glass and rubbish. When I pried off the plywood over a window and climbed in, I found something I could put my hands to. I hadn't been alone for 25 years. I was scared, but I hoped the hard work would distract and heal me.

I found the owner and rented the place for $50 a month. I took a bedroll, a broom, rope, a gun and cooking gear, and cleared a corner to camp in while I worked.

The locals knew nothing about me. But slowly, they started teaching me the art of being a neighbor. They dropped off blankets, candles, tools and canned deer meat, and they began sticking around to chat. They'd ask if I wanted to meet cousin Albie or go fishing, maybe get drunk some night. They started to teach me a belief in a different American dream — not the one of individual achievement but one of neighborliness.

Men would stop by with wild berries, ice cream, truck parts and bullets to see if I was up for courting. I wasn't, but they were civil anyway. The women on that mountain worked harder than any I'd ever met. They taught me the value of a whetstone to sharpen my knives, how to store food in the creek and keep it cold and safe. I learned to keep enough for an extra plate for company.

What I had believed in, all those things I thought were the necessary accouterments for a civilized life, were nonexistent in this place. Up on the mountain, my most valuable possessions were my relationships with my neighbors.

After four years in that hollow, I moved back into town. I saw that a lot of people were having a really hard time, losing their jobs and homes. With the help of a real estate broker I chatted up at the grocery store, I managed to rent a big enough house to take in a handful of people.

It's four of us now, but over time I've had nine come in and move on to other places from here. We'd all be in shelters if we hadn't banded together.

The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It's not so much about what I can get for myself; it's about how we can all get by together.

I am Still the Greatest, by Muhammad Ali

I have always believed in myself, even as a young child growing up in Louisville, Ky. My parents instilled a sense of pride and confidence in me, and taught me and my brother that we could be the best at anything. I must have believed them, because I remember being the neighborhood marble champion and challenging my neighborhood buddies to see who could jump the tallest hedges or run a foot race the length of the block. Of course I knew when I made the challenge that I would win. I never even thought of losing.

In high school, I boasted weekly — if not daily — that one day I was going to be the heavyweight champion of the world. As part of my boxing training, I would run down Fourth Street in downtown Louisville, darting in and out of local shops, taking just enough time to tell them I was training for the Olympics and I was going to win a gold medal. And when I came back home, I was going to turn pro and become the world heavyweight champion in boxing. I never thought of the possibility of failing — only of the fame and glory I was going to get when I won. I could see it. I could almost feel it. When I proclaimed that I was the "Greatest of All Time," I believed in myself. And I still do.

This I Believe Brainstorming

What do you BELIEVE?

DIRECTIONS: In the space in front of each belief statement, write an “A” if you agree or a “D” if you disagree. This is for you, so be truthful and thoughtful. Think of personal experiences on which you can base these beliefs.

_____ Life is fair.

_____ Doing what’s right means obeying the law.

_____ Words can hurt.
_____ Knowledge is more powerful than fear.
_____ Police are your friends.
_____ We all have the choice of moral responsibility.

_____ What goes around comes
_____ There is a great need for empathy.


_____ How you act in a crisis shows
_____ Silence is dangerous.

who you really are.

_____ Love conquers all.
_____ We are all strong.

_____ An eye for an eye…
_____ Bystanders passively collaborate.

_____ People learn from their mistakes.
_____ We all need to learn to care.

_____ You can’t depend on anyone else;

you can only depend on yourself.

_____ If you smile long enough, you become happy.

_____ Miracles do happen.

_____ We all have choices.

_____ There is one special person for everyone.

_____ Money can’t buy happiness.

_____ Killing is wrong.

_____ Doing what’s right means obeying the law.

_____ Knowledge is more powerful than fear.

_____ We all have the choice of moral responsibility.

_____ There is a great need for empathy.

_____ Silence is dangerous.

_____ We are all strong.

_____ Bystanders passively collaborate.

_____ We all need to learn to care.

DIRECTIONS: Now put stars next to the five belief statements that are most important to you.

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