Identity and religion

Personal Essay Assignment


In this course we are examining two very personal topics: identity and religion. However, in the early modern period both identity and religion were extremely public aspects of one’s life. Early modern people were constantly under scrutiny for their opinions and beliefs, and could face harsh penalties for not conforming to dictated and legislated norms. This essay asks you to take a critical look at your own experiences with both religion and identity, and to examine social pressures you have experienced in your life.

For this assignment, you will write a first person narrative describing your experiences with identity and religion. You will then describe the social pressures you have experienced or witnessed – those pressures that attempt to force individuals to alter themselves (including religion and identity) to conform to some kind of societal norm. Consider the following questions as you write your narrative essay:
What does ‘identity’ mean to you?
What role does religion play in your life? In the lives of those around you?
How did you come to know yourself in the way you do now?
What makes you, you?
When did your belief/moral/ethical system contradict what others wanted you to believe?
When have you faced social pressure to change?
When have you witnessed others being pressured to change their identity or religious beliefs?
How did you respond to pressure to change?
Why would others want to change you, or change those around you?
• Reflect on your own understanding of identity and religion
• Reflect on your experiences with major course topics
• Identify differences between personal experience and social expectation
• Critically examine the motivation behind social conformity

• First person narrative
• 3-4 page essay (full pages – 2.5 pages is not 3)
• Respond directly to the prompt
• MLA formatting: double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, 1” margins
• Microsoft Word compatible

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