Here is a third and last post in connection with our new BYU/theatre & media arts autobiography class. It’s the final paper. Students are to ask themselves each of these questions, and answer them. In considerable detail! You could try this too, or impose it on your poor, cowering loved ones…
Where are you from? What is your village, or town, or city?
What state or province, county or duchy?
What country are you from?
How, very specifically, have all and each of these locations formed and affected
From whence your ancestors?
Father’s family (town, province, etc.)?
What have you inherited from your ethnic forebears? What else? What else, in addition to those first two things?
How long ago did your ancestors come from that old country? How has the
passage of that amount of time affected you?
Describe your parents’ marriage, whether extant or defunct. What are the
assumptions and aspirations, or the cautions and warnings, that you have
taken away from that union?
How many kids are in your family? Which number are you?
What, very specifically, has each sibling done with, for, or to you? Answer that question again. And again.
Are you a man, or a woman? Define, thoroughly.
Describe the layout and culture of your elementary school/s. How did it or
they form you?
Describe the layout and culture of your junior high school/s. Ditto.
Did you sustain, or object to these school cultures? What traces has that whole negotiation left upon you?
Who are the thinkers that have most affected your own thought? What,
specifically, have you absorbed from their philosophy? Or, what have you
adapted from them, and how, and what has it all turned into?
Identify and describe ten memorable experiences. What makes them so?
Identify and describe ten more memorable experiences.
Identify and describe five personal triumphs. How did they raise you up?
Identify and describe five personal traumas. What marks did they leave?
What do you do now, or avoid, that you didn’t previously?
What are three awards that you have received, and what did the receiving of
same do to you?
Describe your three most serious punishments. Did you deserve them? Did
they mark you, or your attitudes, or your relationships?
What is your most ardent desire? The next most ardent desire?
What are you scared of?
Of what are you most proud?
What are you next most scared or proud or ashamed of?
With what event, or person, or character, do you most identify? One more time.
To what historical period are you most drawn? Why?
What is your native topography? Ocean, forest, mountain, plain? How has
landscape inflected or affected your personality, or the way you set about
What is your race, or ethnicity? How exactly are you Caucasion, or Asian, or
African, etc.? What do you really know about your racial or ethnic backgrounds,
and how are they manifest in what you think and do?
Are you a person of colour? What does that mean, or what has it meant?
What do you think and feel about the various other colours, races and
Are you a combination, or hybrid, of ethnicities? What about that?
Or, do you most affiliate with an immigrant society, and with the idea of
assimilation? Why is that? What does it all mean?
What are your parents’ jobs? How have parental vocations gone on to form or
affect your lifestyle?
Can you actually make anything, or do anything? What effect does this
making/doing, or maybe your post-modern ineptitude, have upon you?
Are you a Mormon? How did that happen? When? What parts of Mormonism,
exactly, are most important to or in your life? And, or, what do you
resist? Why? How does that show up?
Do you have an especially beloved Sunday School or seminary teacher, a class
or quorum advisor? Is there one that drove you crazy? What do these
proclivities say about you, or maybe your discipleship?
What were you, or what was your family, before the LDS church came upon the
scene? What are the virtues and contributions of that background, or
What is your class background? How far back was it that your forebears actually
rolled up the sleeves and worked by the sweat of their faces? What were their specific
crafts or skills? Are those crafts and skills presently a part of your life, or your family
What educational inclinations or allegiances do your families have? And, or, what
professional? How do all of these break down? Is it Arts and Letters, or Humanities? Are
there social scientists? What of chemistry or biology, physics or astronomy? Agriculture?
Engineering? Manufacture? Transportation? Retail?
Do you match up with the general drift of your family, professionally
speaking? Why, or why not? What are you trying to say, or prove, by going
in your present direction?
What are your tastes? Do you know how to describe them? Where did your
tastes come from and how?
Why do you wear and like the clothes that you like and wear? How did that happen?
Who are your favourite authors? When you were five years old? Ten?
Twenty? Every year in between?
Why? What do each of these authors describe, imply, desire, advocate? What
in their tone or sensibility draws you to them? What righteousness do they
model, that you want to replicate? What rebellion draws you, and tempts to
Which writers bug you, and why? What does your resistance say about you?
If you don’t have favourite authors, what happened?
Do you like music? Do you make it, or just take it? What instrument,
ensemble, period or idiom or ensemble size most pleases you?
What caused you to prefer this film genre, or that televisual idiom?
Name ten favourite films. Why?
Name ten favourite filmmakers. What about them?
Do you think those are appropriate? What does “appropriate” mean, or look like, to you?
What were your favourite sports teams when you were a kid? List them by
individual sport. What drew you to them? Which were your second and third favourites, and why?
Who were your most admired athletes? What did you admire in them? Do you
feel the same way now? What does that mean?
What sport did you actually play? How did that happen?
What was your position, or event? How did that come about? How did it affect you?
Were you athletic, or not? What effect did that have?
Which team did you hate? What or who caused that?
How many other things do you actually despise? Why? What does that say
about you, or the things, or the world itself?
Name five painters that you love, or that fascinate you, and why.
Five poets, and five poems.
Memorialize five pets. What were their names? What were they like, very
Ten singers, or groups, or musical ensembles.
Your most influential grand/parent, aunt/uncle, boyfriend/girlfriend? Your other most influential grand/parent, aunt/uncle, boyfriend/girlfriend? One more time.
What family births do you actually and intensely remember? What did they teach you about the world, or about yourselves?
What about death, or deaths?
List all of your jobs. How did they help or hurt you, very specifically?
Ditto, church callings.
What are your three top interests, presently speaking?
More pointedly, are you obsessed with anything in particular? How did that
happen? How is it manifest? How do you feel about that, seriously?
Is there a certain idea that somehow embodies you, or that you wish embodied
Finally, and in sum, who are you?