Autobiographical writing is a kind of storytelling or making sense of things through a personal reflective narrative. This cultural autobiography is a personal narrative and interpretation about your life from within this identity culture. It should explore your personal history, including the formation of your identity, beliefs, and perspectives on various aspects of society.
Think critically about cultural identity with a focus on the continuum of roles, beliefs, behavior, and patterns within society.
Create a reflective essay that identifies social and cultural factors that help shape one's identity by creating a cultural autobiography.
Prepare and deliver an oral presentation.
“Who am I?” is a question all of us ask at some time in our lives. Knowledge of social and cultural roles, beliefs, behavior, and patterns begins with an understanding of one’s own cultural assumptions, socialization processes, and behaviors. By examining our cultural background, we can enhance our knowledge about the importance of culture and tradition for others.
Many Americans believe they "have no culture." Ethnic minority group members tend to be more aware of their social and cultural dichotomies than the dominant group in America. Simply because many ethnic minority cultures are not validated by the dominant or mainstream culture and stand in recognizable contrast to it.
Watch the videos: Culture and How it is Defined
The first lesson in the humanities is to make people aware of their contributions to culture (civilization), and the second lesson is to teach them about other cultures (societies). By this dissemination of the truth about individual peoples' cultures, a better understanding among them and a proper appraisal of each other should follow. This ancient adage "Know thyself" is traditionally ascribed to ancient Greece. However, the Greeks imported their philosophical foundation from the ancient Egyptians. According to Plato, Solon, one of the Seven Sages, received his education in Egypt. Pythagoras, another pillar in the formation of Greece, also studied under Egyptian instruction. In ancient Khemet (known today as Egypt), above the entrance of each temple and lodge serving as an academic and scientific learning center, appeared the phrase: "Man Know Thyself." Thus, it is the real source of knowledge education begins deep inside each person.
Watch the video clip from The Matrix
A Cultural autobiography is a reflective, self-analytic story of your past and present. Your cultural autobiography will not be comprehensive because of the complexity of your life experiences. The assumption underlying this assignment is that things do not merely happen to us. We are active in interpreting and assigning meaning to experiences in our lives. In turn, these experiences influence the way we see the world and what we believe and value. This assignment gives you the opportunity to heightened awareness of your relationship with the terms culture and civilization explore and present your cultural identity by writing a cultural autobiography and delivering an oral presentation.
To complete this assignment, you are asked to reflect on your life through a cultural and historical lens. You may wish to explore family history with parent/s, grandparents, and extended family: "What was life like for you back then" and "What was I like" is a great conversation starter? Then listen to what he/she has to say. Then decided what you learned and if you will use the information. In the beginning of this course you were assigned to complete several self-assessments related to identifying social and cultural dichotomies. These self-assessments connect meaning to your preferences and styles, and generate deeper reflections that can help you tell your story. You can use the information from the self-assessments to validate the events and experiences that help you understand your patterns, behaviors, choices and the beliefs you hold.
Focus your essay on aspects of your life and your interpretation and analysis of how that has shaped you. Use whatever description, scenes, and dialogues that you wish. Your essay needs to have a consistent theme while describing specific events or memories from your childhood, formative years, or present day. You might choose to create one long narrative or multiple shorter narratives. Feel free to be more creative, such as including a poem, lyrics, quote, images, etc. This is meant to be a “creative reflective composition. I am the only one who will read your paper.
Describe your culture and how analyzing this culture is important to your success in your community, education, social, and career setting. This culture MUST be one that you were born into and have lived within for all or most of your life. We will explore how culture is just one of many identities you have and will use the “Identities of the Self” Worksheet later in this document to do this exploration. This assignment has a four-step process below.
Step 1: Ask yourself some questions. Provide answers to some of the primary demographic categories:
Formal education level
Consider other elements of your experience and environment not usually measured as statistics. Use the following questions to prompt ideas for or as a springboard for preparing your unique cultural autobiography:
Your name. What is the origin of your family surname? What is its meaning? Are there any naming traditions or ceremonies?
What languages were spoken during your childhood?
Geographically, where are your grandparents' and great-grandparents' place of origin? What do you know about their childhood, religion, politics, schooling, marriage, attitudes about death, loss, mourning, rites of passages, etc.? Are there things about your family’s history you would like to know but no one seems to want to talk about or share?
What historical events (e.g., depression, World War I/World War II, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Attack on 911, economic recession of 2008, civil unrest, Covid-19 Pandemic) affected your family most?
Identify a family ritual, practice, ceremony you value or have especially enjoyed, or a significant event in your life. Share an important author, book, film, or book you enjoyed.
Have you ever experienced interpersonal conflict or prejudice because of your race, ethnicity, gender, cultural group, disability/special needs, or an organization you were involved with? What was the setting—school, work, place of worship, neighborhood, friends, etc.? Was this conflict resolved in any way, and if so, how?
Describe a hobby or activity that is culturally related?
What questions evoke the most profound wonder in your mind at this time in your life’s journey?
What (people, places, events, situations) generate energy for you? What are you good at that helps you overcome the challenges that life brings you?
How does your socioeconomic status/social class influence how you move in your community and the larger society?
Where did you grow up?
Where did you go to school?
What was the most critical/saddest/happiest moment of your life?
In what ways has your culture been taught to you?
How would you describe communication style?
What’s your career goal?
How would you define success?
You can use the Cultural Identity Chart to help facilitate answers to the questions above or to help you consider the many factors that shape your social and cultural identity. The sample cultural identity chart is a diagram that is filled in with words and phrases that describe who the person is as well as the labels placed on them by society. For example, your role in a family (e.g., daughter, sister, mother), your hobbies and interests (e.g., guitar player, football fan), your background (e.g., religion, ethnicity, nationality, spiritual practice, place of birth) etc.
Step 2: Develop your answers into a narrative Consider the stories that accompany your answers. Choose an experience that stands out to you as meaningful in terms of who you are today. Or, you may choose several experiences/stories. You have the choice to write about one experience in detail or about many experiences that make up a chronological timeline of your life.
Step 3: Organize your ideas. Once you decide what you will write about, create a rough outline or draft as a way to organize your paper. Write out your ideas and put them in the order you want to say them. Think about how you would like to introduce the essay and how you would like to conclude it. You can write the introduction and conclusion after you write and organize the paper.
Step 4: Write your essay Reflect on how the experience has shaped how you value and evaluate the world around you and how it has shaped your thinking, roles, beliefs, behavior, and patterns. In other words, how was this experience important to you? Ultimately, you should present a paper that explores who you are and why. What do you think are the opinions, beliefs, assumptions, stereotypes, and biases that serve to form you and your views, and, even more importantly, how were they developed? You do not need to answer all of these questions in your essay; instead, they are areas you may choose to explore.
Your essays must be a minimum of three (3) to five (5) pages (750 - 1250 words). It needs to be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, free from grammar and punctuation errors, and have a legible 12-point serif font size (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma, Century Gothic, or courier). Do not use any fancy font and avoid non-serif fonts.
Use MLA style when writing your citations.
Submit your essay via an online text entry as an attachment to the Canvas assignment.
Evaluation of your grade will include its thoroughness, level of detail, use of specific examples, and depth of thought. Review the cultural autobiography rubric below.
The cultural autobiography essay assignment is worth 100 points and is due April 27, 2021. This is meant to give each student time to develop and edit their presentation based on feedback from their essay.
You are also required to create and deliver a five to an eight-minute oral presentation that summarizes your cultural autobiography reflective essay. In your oral presentation, only share what you feel comfortable with. On the day of the cultural presentations, you will come prepared to talk about highlights from your cultural autobiography. The oral presentation is worth 100 points and is due May 4, 2021.
The attached documents contain process information that may be useful in helping you write your cultural autobiography essay:
Review the attached rubric to understand the criteria for your essay.
Watch the three (3) digital cultural autobiographies for ideas of what you could create.
Digital Cultural Autobiography by Crystal Balderas
Digital Cultural Autobiography by Loida Cruz
Digital Cultural Autobiography by Toni Monroe
If you need assistance or support contact student services:
Tutoring Center: The Tutoring Center is an excellent resource that all students should use. Free tutoring by trained individuals is available both by appointment and on a walk-in basis.
NetTutor: A free comprehensive web-based online tutoring service accessible from the course site in Canvas, 24 hours a day, and seven (7) days a week to all currently enrolled students. Get help in subjects such as Math, English, Science, Social Science, Writing.
Can't change a rubric once you've started using it.