Writing about Consumption

Personal Narrative Assignment overview:
This assignment asks students to write a personal narrative about an experience related to their consumption.

As part of this narrative, pick an object that can work as a “symbol” of your topic and can represent your theme/ thesis. If you’re writing about your eating habits, it could be a huge NY strip steak or a McDonald’s burger. If you’re working on your shopping habits, you could focus on an object you desired and/or purchased recently. If you’re writing about a place, then you can focus on that. Do not tell me how you feel about the object/place, but instead show me how you feel in the way you describe it. Show me your passion and make me love (or hate) the item. Make sure you include:

  • One detail that appeals to sight—what the item looks like.
  • One detail that appeals to taste—what the item tastes like.
  • One detail that appeals to touch—what the item feels like.
  • One detail that appeals to hearing—what the item sounds like.
  • One detail that appeals to smell—what the item smells like.

Get imaginative here. If your item doesn’t actually make a sound, then what kind of sound do you think it might make if it did? If it speaks, what would it say to you? Or would it make another kind of sound? Or, you can describe the sounds surrounding you when you eat the object. If it isn’t something you normally taste, then what do you think it might taste like? (I’m not asking you to taste your pink cashmere sweater, but maybe it looks like cotton candy or bubble gum?) Or what tastes do you associate with it? If you’re writing about a place, you can describe what the trees might taste like, or you can describe tastes that you associate with the place—did you go on picnics there? Do you remember the taste of charred hot dogs and potato chips? Or did the ice cream truck stop there and you remember the sweet, cold taste of an astropop?

Research Paper Assignment overview:
Write a 5-6 page research paper that addresses an issue of consumption/environmental awareness arising from the field research you completed in your consumption logs.

  • Focus one of the areas you kept track of in your consumption log. This will give your essay unity and focus. Choose the area that you found most interesting and that you feel you would enjoy finding out more about.
  • You will come up with a specific focus related to your area and develop a research plan in which you pose questions you’d like to know the answers to. (You can think about some of the questions on the consumption log for starters.)
  • Your essay should contain an engaging and coherent discussion of your findings as well as a detailed critical assessment of your daily living habits over the course of seven days. As you reflect on your findings, you will consider how you can make a more positive impact on the earth, immediately and over the long term.
  • You can relate your personal habits and consumption to national habits and/or the global affects of your behavior.
  • In your conclusion, you should consider the specific changes you foresee in your patterns of consumption and the impact those changes can have.
  • Your essay should include citations from at least 4 different sources. At least two of these sources must be academic sources. The other two can come from general information sources like Newsweek, as well as from the internet (reliable and unbiased websites).
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