This assignment serves a number of purposes:

1. It provides students who do not do well on exams an opportunity to show their knowledge of the material.

2. It provides course participants an opportunity to receive feedback on two important skills:

a. the ability to compose a cogent, fact-based paper, and

b. the ability to analytically reflect on everyday interactional experiences using sophisticated, systematically developed concepts.


Your paper should be a Goffmanian analysis of the identity presentation and negotiation practices of people you have observed as they engaged in instances of interpersonal communication. That is, your paper should reveal the ways in which people, as individuals or performance teams, went about creating, maintaining and negotiating their identities at the same time as others they interacted with in specific interpersonal interactions. For instance, how did they try to create a specific identity through the use of the whole range of signs (manner, appearance and setting signs) that they had at their disposal. How did they try to idealize, or negatively idealize themselves? Moreover, your paper should reveal how they did all this in the context of both the real and imagined (or explicit and implicit) expectations of Western culture (assuming the subjects are, in fact, Westerners or Westernized people). For instance, how did the people you observed deal with the fact that they were culturally expected to create a unique self when they could really only conjure up a vision of a type of person. Or, how did the people you observed deal with the fact that they were culturally expected to create a consistent self when also truly expected to be appropriate to the specifics of the situation they were in or the people they were with. This example of interpersonal communication must be an actual conversation not fictional.Be sure to read the several paragraphs by Goffman that I have included. Use it as a guide to your paper.

Note: There is no magical number of how many communication activities or events you need to observe to write this paper. You can look at as few as one communication event or activity, or any amount more than that. Further, you can use your memories of past communication experiences to write your illustration essay, though I strongly recommend you use recent memories if at all possible.


Papers must be between 5-7 full pages of text (i.e., not counting any title pages, bibliographies, transcripts, etc.). A transcript of the conversation (s) is required.They must also be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and use a standard serifed font (e.g., New Times Roman) in a standard font size (e.g., 12-point for New Times Roman). You are not expected to use any outside sources for this paper, but all such sources must be cited using either MLA or APA format. Papers must be saved in Word formatted and uploaded to Blackboard as directed.


I will base my assessment of your paper on such things as the number of concepts related to the topic of identity communication that you use in your analysis, the accuracy with which you describe those concepts and use them to illustrate and analyze, the clarity and specificity with which you describe the interactions you analyze and illustrate in the paper, the clarity with which you articulate your thoughts, and the logic of your papers paragraphing and arguments.

DUE DATE: I strongly recommend that you submit your paper by