Expository Essay: Surnames & Identity

07Sep 2021 by
Names are important, perhaps more important than we realize. This assignment requires students to write an Expository Essay about the way in which their surname (last name) reflects or does not reflect their identity and/or the identities of people they know who share this name. This essay should be no less than three well-developed paragraphs.

What is your gut feeling, right now, about your surname? Develop a thesis statement based on this feeling and include it in your introductory paragraph. Why do you feel the way you do? Feel free to write in the first person (“I”) throughout this essay. 

As you write your essay, consider the following questions for inspiration. What was your earliest awareness of your surname? Did people shorten or vary your surname as a term of endearment or a term of derision? How did you react to these usages of your name? Did it affect your perception of yourself? How did your understanding of your name change as you matured?

Then conduct a brief interview with someone who shares the same last name as you. Ask them these same questions this essay asks of you. 

Finally, compare and contrast your understandings of your surname with those from the above sources. Conclude the essay with your thoughts about the way you perceive you name now.

For more information on the nature of an expository essay — it’s really just the exposition of new things — follow this link to the Perdue Online Writing Lab’s explanation: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/expository_essays.html

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