Literacy Narrative, Part 3

Due: 3/25

Return to your alphabetic narrative and revise, taking into account the further thinking you did as you created your comic. You can (and probably should) really rethink, rearrange, and reenvision the literacy narrative — rather than merely replacing words with other words. You should have a much clearer sense of the ideas or tensions in your literacy narrative now, after having drafted an alphabetic narrative and then a comic narrative, so go back and write it as an essay.


Publish the new version of your literacy narrative as a page on your site. Then publish a reflective post that links to that page and answers the following questions:

  • How has the entire literacy narrative project helped you to meet the Learning Outcomes for this class?
  • How was it to return to the alphabetic literacy narrative after having created your comic? How did you think differently after having worked in the visual medium and now returning to a text narrative?
  • How do you see the story you are trying to tell in different terms now? Was your analytical thinking process any different?

Parts 1 & 2

Literacy Narrative, Part 1

Literacy Narrative, Part 2

Literacy Narrative, Part 2

Parts 1 & 3

Literacy Narrative, Part 1

Literacy Narrative, Part 3


Now that you’ve completed a draft of your alphabetic literacy narrative, gotten feedback from me, and perhaps read some of your peers’ narratives, it’s time for you to make your own comic narrative about your literacy. For your narrative to be a comic, it must include some words and some images. You are free to veer away from your alphabetic narrative in whatever ways you’d like (you are not bound by the draft you already published to your site), and in fact you will need to fundamentally rethink your narrative in at least some ways in order to make it work as a comic instead of just an alphabetic text. Ultimately, your goal is to both tell a nonfiction, autobiographical story about yourself as a writer/reader and to connect your own personal narrative to the experiences of other people as well — to convey what’s at stake in your narrative.

As you develop your comic, you should refer back to Scott McCloud’s Making Comics, which we read earlier in the semester, and especially the “Clarity” diagram. You will need to make choices about moment, frame, image, word, and flow as you draw your comics. You can experiment in order to develop the style that seems appropriate to the story and ideas that you are presenting — your goal is to create a clear narrative that makes your argument in a way that your readers can grasp, and that might entail playing with techniques that are new to you.

You can make your comics by hand or you can use digital methods.

You can incorporate photographs or other media if you’d like.

Turning your alphabetic literacy narrative into a comics comes in two steps:


Due: 2/23 (in class)

Length: 3-4 pages (ballpark)

In class on 2/23 we will workshop the drafts of your narratives, so come to class with a rough sketch of the complete story you are telling. It should actually be rough — stick figures are fine, as are notations that explain what you are aiming for if it doesn’t come through in the rough sketch. You need the storyboard to be just detailed enough that your peers can read it and understand the 5 choices you are making and see what you are doing in the story, so that they can give you productive feedback, but not so detailed that you will feel invested in the storyboard as if it is a final product and won’t make revisions based on that feedback.

You can bring in a hard copy of your storyboard or you can scan it and publish it to your site. (I will eventually ask you to publish the storyboard before you complete the final draft, so if you can go ahead and do that before class on 10/31, but it’s fine for that class if you bring a hard copy.)

Final Comic

Due: 3/23

Length: 3-4 pages (ballpark)

After you’ve gotten feedback on your storyboard, make a final version of your comic. If you have drawn it in an analog space, get a really nice scan or photograph of it (if you are taking pictures with your cellphone, do make a concerted effort to get really good photos) and upload that to your site. It can be published to a single page or across a few separate pages.

Once you have published the page, write and publish a reflection post that links to your comics page.

Literacy Narrative, Part 1

Due: 2/9

Length: 500-750 words


Before you begin to write your literacy narrative, you should complete the x-pages prewriting assignment described here. Once you’ve finished that prewriting exercise, you can begin drafting the literacy narrative itself. Spend a good 45 minutes to an hour on the prewriting exercise.


Now that you’ve done some brainstorming, write an essay in which you analyze the key experiences that shaped the way you read and write.

Take a step back and reread the freewriting you did, looking for any interesting patterns that you surfaced about your history with reading and writing. You do not need to directly address the questions above or include points from the brainstorming you’ve done, but hopefully in the process of freewriting and thinking about those questions, you’ve recognized some issues or patterns that are interesting enough for you to analyze more carefully.

You’ll have opportunities for revision and later in the term I will ask you to remix the writing you’re doing here into a graphic narrative but for now just focus on drafting this essay.

Nuts and Bolts

Publish your narrative as a page (not a post) on your class website (make certain to add it to the menu, so we can all find it).

As with everything you publish for me this semester, you need more than just words for your narrative — you must have at least one image, video, or audio file with your narrative. You’ll need to provide a caption and give credit to the creator of the image (even if it’s your own). I’ll have some additional resources on Creative Commons and finding CC-licensed images with Flickr (or refer back to the first sketch assignment for more).

Reflection Post

Once you have published the page, you need to also write a separate blog post. That post should link to the page you have published and reflect on the process of writing it. (How to add a link in posts and pages)

Further instructions for the reflection post here.

Parts 2 & 3

Literacy Narrative, Part 2

Literacy Narrative, Part 3

X-Page Exercises: Reading and/or Writing

This is a pre-writing exercise that is designed to help you prepare to complete your first quest, writing the literacy narrative. I’ve adapted this exercise from the Lynda Barry’s “x-page” warmup exercise in the book Syllabus. It should take you 45 minutes to an hour to complete this exercise.

I’m going to describe the steps in text below and I will also include an audio recording of me reading these instructions out loud and pausing for you to write in response. You might find it helpful to play the audio and simply write in a notebook or type on your laptop as you listen instead of having to come back and read text as we go — if nothing else, it might stop you from spending longer on the steps than you need to, so I suggest you try it. If the audio is not helpful for you, for any reason, then you can read the same instructions below.

Audio Prompt for this assignment

Ten Memories

Think back over the course of your life so far and make a list of ten memories that you associate with reading and/or writing. Just take about 3 minutes and make a numbered list of ten memories that come to mind.

Pick One

Then, read over your list and pick the one memory that seems the most vivid to you. Circle it. Then on a new page, write that memory at the top of the page as if it were the title of a story and draw a big X across the page. (If you’re typing on a laptop, the big X is optional)

Twenty Questions

Picture yourself in the memory that you are exploring and then write the answers to the following questions anywhere on the page. Pretend we are having a conversation, so you can see the image but I can’t so I’m going to be asking you these questions to help me “see” the image too. Keep writing until the next question is asked — no detail is too small or unimportant.

  1. Where are you?
  2. What time of day or night does it seem to be?
  3. What season does it seem to be?
  4. Where is the light coming from?
  5. What kind of light is it?
  6. What’s the temperature like?
  7. What does the air smell like?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. Is there anyone else in that place with you?
  10. What are they doing?
  11. Why are you there?
  12. What are some of the sounds you can hear?
  13. What are some of the things you can see?
  14. What’s directly in front of you?
  15. If you turn your head to your right, what’s there?
  16. If you turn your head to the left, what do you see?
  17. What is behind you?
  18. What’s below you and around your feet?
  19. What’s above your head?
  20. What emotions are you feeling in this space?

Once you have jotted answers to those 20 questions on your x-page turn to a new page and freewrite for 10 minutes about that memory. There are no wrong or right things to write about or ways to write about the memory. Just start by elaborating further about any of the details you jotted down on the x-page and then keep writing without stopping about whatever thoughts are coming to your head about that memory. Try not to censor yourself or worry about the quality of what you’re writing. At this stage, all you are doing is generating ideas — you will think about structure and wording later.

Now look back at your original list of ten memories. Are there any other memories that you’d really like to explore further? You don’t need to repeat the entire process described above for the memory (though you can, if it seems like it would be useful) but do jot down some thoughts about any of the other memories on your list that seem worth thinking more about right now.

Building from Memories, Asking Questions

Now that you’ve taken the time to write about one or more of those memories, pause to consider the following questions about your history with reading and writing. They may or may not directly connect with the freewriting you just completed. Jot down brief responses to these questions:

  • How did you feel about reading and writing as an adolescent — say, during middle and high school? What sorts of experiences did you have as a reader and writing in school?
  • What are your experiences with social networking sites like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or others? What do you remember about your first experiences with such sites? Do you text on a smartphone? What sorts of experiences have you had writing to/for people with those sorts of technologies?
  • What are some of the biggest struggles you have had as a reader and/or writer?
  • What are some of your best moments as a writer?