Paper #1: Autobiography
About Your Readers:
In this class, we have discussed the importance of making your
readers care about your "problems," and therefore your essays. So,
before you begin to plan and write your first paper, you should know
a few things about your readers (i.e., your classmates and your
1) They are familiar with the text that you are writing about.
2) They do not need a summary of this text.
3) They want to understand better how this text functions as
4) They do not need an analysis of episodes or events in the text,
except when these episodes allow you to comment on the text
as an autobiography.
About Your Assignment:
Select one of the questions on the back of this
page. These questions should be familiar they have been pulled
from your e-mails and our class discussions about Mary
McCarthys Memories of a Catholic Girlhood and Nick
Hornbys Fever Pitch. You may have addressed one of these
questions in one of your introductions. If so, you may continue to
write on that question.
In a 3-4 page paper, you should answer the question that
you have selected. This paper should have a one-paragraph
introduction, in which you lay out the status quo, the question, the
consequences of answering or not answering the question, and your
answer to the question (your thesis). In the body of your essay, you
should develop the question and your answer to it, using concrete
examples from the text(s) to support your answer/ thesis. Your
conclusion, as we have discussed in class, should mirror your
Your introduction will be due on Wednesday 9/19.
Your paper will be due on Monday 9/24.
Questions for Paper #1:
1) Is Mary McCarthy a reliable narrator? How does her reliability,
or lack thereof, impact her autobiography?
2) What is the function of the "To the Reader" portion of
McCarthys autobiography? What connects it to the rest of her
3) Why does McCarthy choose this form for her autobiography? (You
will first need to define the form of her text.)
4) What role does memory play in McCarthys autobiography?
How does memory affect her text?
5) How and what does McCarthys discussion(s) of Catholicism
contribute to her autobiography?
6) Why does Nick Hornby base his whole autobiography on football?
7) How does Hornby structure his narrative? Why does he choose
this form for his autobiography?
8) How does Hornby think of time and how does this affect his life
and, more importantly, his text?
9) What role does memory play in Hornbys book? How does
memory affect his autobiography?
10) How does Hornby discuss his personal life? How large a part
does his personal life play in his autobiography?
11) When compared to hooks and McCarthy, and their respective
texts, why is Hornby so much more reliable as a narrator?
12) The relationship between the author and the authors
memories varies from McCarthy to Hornby. How do their autobiographies
reflect this difference?
13) hooks talked about the problem of "secrecy" in her essay
"writing autobiography." How do McCarthy and/ or Hornby treat this
14) How do the purposes of McCarthys and Hornbys texts
differ? How do these differences impact the forms, styles, and/ or
themes of their autobiographies?
Note: Remember that each of these questions
represents a conceptual problem a problem that
destabilizes our minds. Do not try to turn these conceptual problems
into tangible or pragmatic problems. These problems will not be
problems for all possible readers, but rather for our small community
of readers. The consequences will involve costs to or benefits for
our understanding of the autobiographies we have read so far this