Intellectual Autobiography

Below is what the assignment is: You cannot possibly write your full life story—not even your “life of the mind” story—in four to six pages.  Therefore, you must select what is most important for your ultimate aim—and for the purposes of this assignment, your aim is to tell a story with a particular message.  The message you want to tell is that you have had a life that inclines you toward a certain disciplinary view of the world.  Please stress the following:   Why you chose your area(s) of study   The key events, situations, and influences that led to your disciplinary interests What is it exactly that interests you about your discipline (be sure to be as specific as possible and include specific concepts, topics, methods, or perspectives of interest) Your values, skills, and strengths (and if relevant, weaknesses) How you plan to use your disciplinary knowledge and skills in your future, especially in your future career plans or goals What real-world problems are you interested in solving? How will your discipline assist you?   You may find that you have difficulty selecting what to write.  Perhaps you feel your life (intellectual or otherwise) has lacked direction and that to admit your life was not focused from day one would somehow be held against you.  Don’t worry, it won’t.    Some of you may not want to disclose certain things about your lives, while others may dwell on events or activities that may not necessarily be looked upon favorably by others.  Remember, this is not an exercise in confessional writing.  Your goal is to help other people understand what disciplinary perspectives guide the way you make sense of the world and how you came to adopt those perspectives.    Here are some additional rule-of-thumb guidelines.   Assume a general reader who does not know you personally Remember: this essay will be made public on Canvas, so do not disclose anything of which you are ashamed or any illegal activities Do not dwell on the negative.  If you find yourself wanting to discuss some major negative event, such as an accident or illness, try to emphasize what you learned from the experience rather than the disappointments or shortcomings it may have caused How you structure this intellectual autobiography is up to you.  There is no one right way to go about it.  You might write it as a personal narrative.  You might write it as a reflection on your goals in your profession or more broadly in your life.  You might write in first person (so, yes, you can use “I” in this paper!)  You might write it in third person, as if you’re profiling someone else.  The truly adventurous among you may find a way to make it work in second person. You may decide to write in one smooth linear narrative, in a chronological but fragmented style, or in a way that jumps around in time and space.  It’s up to you.  Have some fun with it!

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