Compare and contrast how your two autobiographies

1. You are asked on page vii of the study guide to test the following assertion as you complete the course readings: “Autobiography interprets the encounters of the writer with him- or herself, with his or her community, and with the environment.” The guide also states that African/South African autobiographies focus more on and highlight more the community and collective consciousness, whereas “Western” autobiographies center more on the self and have a more personal, individual focus. To help you appreciate the effect of these differing perspectives, you are asked in this assignment to prepare two brief autobiographies (one to one-and-a-half typed, double-spaced pages each): one concentrating on you as an individual and your achievements and the other following a more community-oriented approach. Then, in one to two additional pages, do the following:

Compare and contrast how your two autobiographies differ and how they say different things about you and your culture (community and environment). Consider whether a person’s “self” can be clearly distinguished from the society in which he or she lives. Formulate your response in your own words. When it is appropriate to use quotations or paraphrase from your text materials or other sources, be sure to cite your sources properly by giving page numbers in parentheses or using footnotes or endnotes. The assignment should be a total of between three and five typed, double-spaced pages. When you have completed the assignment, proofread it for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation before submitting it to your mentor.

2. As stated in the study guide, autobiography in South Africa “very often explores identity which is hybrid, expressing the heterogeneous or diverse contexts (e.g., urban and rural; local and overseas) in which the writer is placed . . . and which impart to him or her an unstable, shifting identity” (p. ix). Using this statement as a point of departure, write an essay on the usefulness of the term hybrid to describe Sindiwe Magona’s identity as portrayed in To My Children’s Children.

Discuss uncertainty and in-betweenness, as well as the author’s use of the phrase “losses, lacks, lapses.” Do not simply retell the story. Rather, talk about it in critical terms. For example, speculate on the polarities that form the author’s emerging identity. Consider how the author grapples with disparate elements and influences in the world from which she must make herself. Discuss the choices she faces and how she deals with them. Formulate your response in your own words. When it is appropriate to use quotations or paraphrase from your text materials or other sources, be sure to cite your sources properly by giving page numbers in parentheses or using footnotes or endnotes. The assignment should be a total of three to four typed, double-spaced pages. When you have completed the assignment, proofread it for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation before submitting it to your mentor.

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