Book: The College Writing Toolkit
Chapter: 2. The Personal Essay as a Tool to Teach Academic Writing
In the first chapter, “The Personal Essay as a Tool to Teach Academic Writing,” Olivia Archibald considers how best to introduce first-year students to new forms of discourse and techniques of revision. She advocates the use of the personal essay as a tool to teach academic writing, arguing that classic essays by authors such as George Orwell and Annie Dillard can fruitfully be used to make students aware of and to learn to balance within their papers two essential components of academic writing: the “inner story” of evaluation and reflection, supported by the “outer story” of description. With a wealth of practical detail, Archibald describes a workshop sequence through which students draft and revise their own essays about an experience of personal transformation. Through this process, novice writers develop the rhetorical skills they need to make the subsequent transition to writing thesis-based argumentative papers, using Archibald’s “inner/outer” frame.