Fall 2022 English 2110
Doyle Essay Due: 9/16 (posted to Moodle)
2-3 pages in length
May include up to 2 sources
First Draft (Due 9/6)
One of the most striking aspects of Brian Doyle’s “Joyas Voladoras” is the essay’s movement—how it shifts, sometimes seamlessly from subject to subject, fact to philosophy. You could describe Doyle’s essay as having four major movements. The first is the hummingbird, then the blue whale, then a discussion of the heart in many contexts. And finally, in the last paragraph, Doyle broadens his discussion to include the human “heart”—the organ said to contain our love, loss, and pain. Each of the four movements contains some reference to the heart. Ultimately, then, “Joyas Voladoras” is an essay in which one central image repeats in four movements, tying the essay together through the metaphor of the heart.
Doyle’s essay makes very smooth transitions, despite the fact that the subjects he writes about might seem quite different at first. After all, a hummingbird and a blue whale would not occur to us to be similar creatures—ones we might put side by side in an essay. But Doyle connects all of these creatures in order to say something about the human condition. As you think about the ways that Doyle makes these connections, write an essay in which there are four major shifts in topic. Your four topics might seem unrelated at first, but your challenge will be to connect them in some way. In so doing, you may find that writing in this particular form—and making these connections—allows you to learn or inquire into a subject in a new way.
Your essay should begin with a single image, as Doyle does with the hummingbird. This image should be something you can describe in detail, something you know a lot about or want to inquire into. Then, allow this image to lead to the next. You may do this associatively in the process of writing, or you may try to plan ahead. The idea is to transition three or four times, and to highlight the ways each of your four topics are connected. You might consider, also, the way that Doyle’s final paragraph brings all of the prior images of the essay together. How might you make these kinds of connections at the end of your essay? In this sense, your prompt invites you to imitate Doyle’s movements. You should think of these movements as both imitating the structure of Doyle’s larger essay and imitating the structure of his sentences, the structure of the moves and choices you see him making as a writer. Your challenge is to understand those moves and choices, and to demonstrate that understanding through making similar moves of your own.
We will brainstorm various Doyle moves in class beforehand and your task will be to play with image and form by imitating at least two of these moves in your own essay.
Fall 2022 English 2110