Now that you’ve made (at least) one pass through Stitches, A Memoir, by David Small, your final assignment is to respond to the following questions in the form of an essay or a blog post. There are no length requirements, but your responses should fully explore the questions posed. Go beyond a surface-level response. Keep in mind that this your final for this unit, so you should handle it in a way that reflects your careful consideration.
Mama had her little cough … <KNH!> once or twice, some quiet sobbing, out of sight … or the slamming of kitchen cupboard doors. <WHAP!> <WHAP!> <WHAP!> That was her language.
For example–if you are working on responding to question 1, if you just tell me that you thought reading the book was “fine”, that it’s similar to reading a traditional memoir because “it tells a story”, and that it is different from reading a traditional books because “there are pictures”–that’s not a well-developed response. If you give me specific examples from Stitches to illustrate why you did or didn’t like it; you describe strategies and/or methods that work for reading both types of books; and you give specific examples of how the process of reading a graphic novel and a traditional book are different, you’ll be golden. The more specific you get, the better.
David: I … she … she’s … craze- y!
Mama: Listen to me: I don’t ever want to hear you use that word again! Do you hear me? NEVER!
Before beginning your responses, you should consider engaging in a second read-through to “catch” things you missed on your first read. As I have mentioned before, I have read this book in the neighborhood of 10-15 times and I catch something new every time!
1. What did you think about reading a graphic memoir? How is it similar to reading a traditional memoir? How is it different?
2. How did the elements of the graphic novel contribute to your understanding of the story? For example, think of the graphic weight of the lines, and the frames; the surreal vs. real (How can you tell the difference?); changes in drawing styles; foreground, midground, and background; speech bubbles, thought bubbles, and special effects lettering; the facial expression and body language of the characters. Get specific. Give me specific examples from the book. Use page numbers and descriptions to explain your response.
And that is not all! What about the literature he’s been reading? Talk about that. All those books in his room. All that SMUT!
Before you answer the next questions, do the following:
Read this article —> New York Times: Finding a Voice in a Graphic Memoir.
You already watched this video —
— but you can watch it again, if need be.
3. How does reading this article and watching the video contribute to your understanding of Stitches, A Memoir? Was there anything that surprised you about either of them? (Be sure to explain why.)
4. Do you believe that graphic novels/memoirs should be included in an academic setting, like this Contemporary Literature and Writing class, or other classes? Why or why not?
You’ve been living in a world full of nonsense, David. No one had been telling you the truth about anything. But I’m going to tell you the truth. Are you ready?
Respond to the above four questions in a typed, 12-point, double-spaced essay OR post it as a blog entry. Your choice. Email me no matter what–either to send me your essays as a PDF or send me an email stating something to the effect of “I posted my essay as a blog post,” no later than Tuesday, April 21, 2015, by 11:59 PM.
I’ll be assessing your writing on…
CONTENT (65%): Are your responses fully developed, thoughtful response? Do you go beyond the surface of what the question is asking? Did you use specific examples? Were your responses accurate?
DICTION (10%): Do the word choices you made convey the ideas you are trying to express? Is there a way to say what you want to say more clearly?
CONVENTIONS (25%): Did you edit? Did you follow the rules of Standard English? Did you use paragraphs? Did you use 12-pt font? Did you double-space?
(All quotes in bold above are take from Stitches, a Memoir, by David Small.)