Topic 2: My Zeitgeist: The Personal Essay (Zeitgeist Genres 1)

George Orwell in his story “Shooting an Elephant” shows clearly how the personal essay can be used to explore a wider social issue through the lens of personal experience. The initial naivety of the protagonist and his uncertainty of his place in the world he find himself in assists us in seeing a side of colonial power struggles and empire in a way that we might otherwise not be privy to.

My zeitgeist is one of changing gender perceptions, parenting two small children, mental illness and conducting both study and work online. Although I had a wide variety of zeitgeist issues I could discuss I struggled with this genre of narrative, as through my studies I have primarily been writing academic essays, and the change from objectivity to subjectivity was an immense challenge, particularly as every draft I came up with felt a little conceited and self-centered.

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