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ESSAY #3: A SENSE OF PLACE AND A SENSE OF SELF

We Southerners have a sense of place, and a sense of place gives you a sense of self. (Cokie Roberts, news analyst)
My quest to encounter the glories of Africa’s past would be a journey of discovery, for readers and viewers, of course, but for me as well. (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)
INTRODUCTION
On our journeys of personal growth and self-discovery, we are shaped by the places we visit and inhabit such as homes, schools, spiritual sites, historic places,
museums and galleries, graveyards, and natural settings just to name a few. As news analyst Cokie Roberts says, “a sense of place gives you a sense of self.”
Essay #3 is based on a place of interest to you and your personal response to that place. Journey to a Houston area site take notes, collect a brochure or print a
website associated with the place, make your fundamental decisions (purpose, audience, tone/persona, strategies, tentative thesis, and optional rough draft/scratch
outline), determine your organization, and write an essay that will engage an HCCS student body eager to explore and learn about the diverse sites in and around
Houston. The audience is also interested in your personal reaction to the site.
Essay #3 is also your mid-term essay. As a mid-term, it is a combination of Essay #1 (Memory and Memoir) and Essay #2 (Exploration and Exposition). Your essay is part
memoir (in that you will be looking back on your visit and expressing a tone) AND part expository (in that you will be informing and explaining.)
In your essay you first want to give the reader a “sense of place,” perhaps even tap into the “soul” of the place, its genius loci, or what you perceive to be “the
distinctive atmosphere or pervading spirit of the place” (American Heritage Dictionary). However, this essay is also about your personal response to that place, your
“sense of self” in the place. How does the site impact you?
This writing project creates expectations as you consider the questions: What place will I select to visit? Why do I want to go there? What do I gain from travel? What
do I hope to discover? What will I learn?
After you have made your visit, you will confront other questions: What have I learned? Was my initial perspective changed? Has my visit been scholarly/academic or
personal? In any way did my visit transform into a pilgrimage? Does my visit in any way become an extended metaphor for something larger? Was my journey in any way
symbolic? (Note how the leather straps function in Henry Louis Gates’ essay “Rope Burn.”)
WRITING ASSIGNMENT
Write an in-class essay between 500 and 750 words about your visit to a Houston area site.
On your planning page, make notes about your (1) purposes, (2) audience, (3) tone(s), (4) strategy(ies), and (5) a tentative thesis. You might also want to write a
scratch outline.
Your purposes are to reflect, express, inform and explain.