For this assignment, you will write a profile of an individual who represents a career, a cultural trend, a movement in history, a philosophy, or a larger social issue using details you get from personal interviews and observations. You do not have to admire the person you write about, but you should find their accomplishments, lifestyles, or philosophies interesting and maybe even fascinating to explore. You also do not have to choose someone who is well known. Sometimes the most interesting profiles are about ordinary people. For example, do you know anyone who is from a different culture or someone returning from a different culture, such as Afghanistan? Or do you know someone who has a job that connects to an interesting subculture (tattoo parlor, beauty pageants, etc.)? Whomever you pick as your subject, you should be able to connect this individual to something larger within our culture or to a larger theme. Of course, you also need to take care not to generalize. It is up to you, as an ethical and truthful writer, to find some kind of balance. Dont let your preconceived notions (we all have them) shape your essay; rather, the evidence you gather should shape your essay. You can choose to profile someone you do not know or someone you do know who has past experiences that fit this assignment.
Youll build upon English 150 writing assignments by incorporating narrative elements and details that convey meaning, and youll do research, but rather than using library sources, youll be doing your own research by interviewing and observing the person youre profiling. Well go over the process of conducting interviews, and well watch some interviews being conducted via the Shoah Visual History Archive, but you want anyone you speak with to know who you are and why you are talking to them. Youll need to ask their permission to use their words in your paper, and youll need to cite your interview properly. Youll also, of course, want to be as safe as possible, not putting yourself at any kind of risk to garner an interview with someone.
PURPOSE: Profiles are word portraits. They are not biographies, filled with facts about when someone was born, where the person grew up and went to school, or if the person got married and had kids, and so on. Instead, profiles paint a picture of some piece of a persons life, leading to an interpretation of what is interesting or important about that person and that persons world. A profile is an extended look at one person, and the subject is that person, not the writer. Therefore, your voice should call attention to the profile subject, not to yourself. Keep your subject in the foreground and yourself in the background. The purpose of a profile is similar to an academic case study and can be used in several ways in academic writing: as part of a larger argument; as part of a larger project, such as an ethnography; and as a means of examining in detail one aspect of a culture, an idea, an eventanything that affects peoples lives.
AUDIENCE:Your reader wants to learn about the person but also about the culture or lifestyle or theme that the subject represents. Readers want to discover something in your profile subjects life that reflects on their lives as well. Much of the pleasure of reading a profile, for the reader, comes from the way the writer presents detailed information about the subject. To make the information entertaining as well as readable and interesting, profile writers interweave bits of information into a tapestry that includes vivid descriptions, lively anecdotes, and arresting quotations
LENGTH:Three (3) to four (4) double-spaced pages (not including the title page, Work(s) Cited page or anyoptional visual aids).
PROCESS:Your paper should be 1) organized around a larger, central theme, 2) present or suggest a question, issue, or problem that anticipates the final view of the subject, the totality of the writers theme, and 3) be supported through specific, insightful details, stories, and/or visuals (rhetorical conventions of the genre). For example, a profile about a student athlete might explore the tension between the demands of academic work and athletic training.
Questions to help focus your profile and find your theme: