Nature Memoir

Nature Memoir (60 points)

Students will compose a memoir that explores an event or experience that is connected to nature from your past. Choose a topic that is both engaging, and one that can be scrutinized for broader implications and meanings, as seen in the course readings. To do so, go beyond describing events; make sense of them for readers and/or connect them to broader ideas or themes. The course readings offer many examples of the nature memoir, which as we’ll see, is rather broad as a genre.

  • Genre: Memoir
  • Length: 1200+ words
  • Timeline: see Schedule

Scoring Guide: Nature Memoir (60 points)

(10%) Writing Process

  • Meets draft and revision deadlines, participates in peer review, completes self-evaluation.

(50%) Content of Nature Memoir

  • Contains first person narrative of author in nature – in some capacity.
  • Provides a detailed, if not exhaustive, nature component – with some specifics of location and identification of flora and fauna (i.e. not just a tree, but a willow).
  • Develops a new understanding or broader significance of the experience (i.e. not a journal entry).
  • May include photos, drawings, and other visuals.

(30%) Genre and Audience Awareness

  • Develops a strong, engaging voice (e.g. humorous, urgent, sensual), mixing self-awareness of narrative with some contemplative distance from the experience.
  • Demonstrates audience awareness: doesn’t read like an engineering report or technical field guide – accessibly written with a public audience of readers in mind.
  • May ask something of the reader, perhaps connected to a new appreciation of environment or place, or a sense of advocacy or stewardship for environment.

(10%) Delivery and Structure

  • Employs a meaningful title.
  • Contains a beginning, middle, end – if loosely structured.
  • Edits prose for polish and professionalism.

Peer Review Questions for Nature Memoir

Content of Nature Memoir

  1. How effectively does the author capture the narrative component of the nature memoir – the author’s experience in nature? What makes it compelling or interesting or provocative?
  2. In the author’s description of nature, which description is the strongest? Why?
  3. How effectively does the author connect the narrative component of the nature memoir to a broader significance or meaningfulness? Why?
  4. In terms of content, what should the author focus on when they revise? Why?

Genre and Audience Awareness

  1. How would you characterize the author’s voice in the piece? Describe it. How does it contribute to the memoir’s purpose and the reader’s engagement? It will help to point to a moment or two from the memoir.
  2. In your own words, what is the author trying to get the reader to consider – beyond recounting the author’s experience in nature?
  3. Eventually, the nature memoir will be published on the author’s website. What images, links, videos would be helpful to include for an online reader?
  4. What can be improved, further elaborated upon, more fully analyzed, etc. when the author revises?

Self-Evaluation for Nature Memoir

Answer the following questions and then submit your self-evaluation with your nature memoir.

  1. What’s the word count for your memoir?
  2. Why did you choose this nature experience(s) over others? What helped you make your final choice?
  3. What do you want your reader to take away from your memoir? Why?
  4. Of the nature memoirs we read in class, which two or three were most useful for you and why?
  5. What was challenging about writing the memoir? Enjoyable?
  6. Describe the peer feedback you received. What was the most helpful feedback you received, and why?
  7. What did you focus on when you revised?