The Body Biography
For your chosen character, your group will be creating a body
biography -- a visual and written portrait illustrating several
aspects of the character’s life within the literary work.
Obviously, begin by drawing in the outline of the body. I
have listed some possibilities for your body biography, but feel
free to come up with your own creations. As always, the choices
you make should be based on the text; for you will be verbally
explaining (and thus, in a sense, defending) them. Above all,
your choices should be creative, analytical, and accurate.
After completing this portrait, you will participate in a
“showing” in which you will present your “masterpiece” to the class. This “showing” should accomplish the
Body Biography Requirements
- Review us on the literary work that involves your character
- Communicate to us the full essence of your character by emphasizing
the traits that make the character unique
- Promote discussion of your character
Although I expect your biography to contain additional dimensions,
your portrait must contain:
Body Biography Suggestions
- A review of the work’s events
- Visual symbols
- An original text
- The five most important quotes (either exposition or dialogue)
relating to your character (be sure to attribute correctly and
- Placement - Carefully choose the placement of your
text and artwork. For example, the area where your character’s
heart would be might be appropriate for illustrating the important
relationships within his/her life. . The hands might refer to
actions or accomplishments of the character
- Spine - Actors often discuss a character's “spine.” This is his/her objective within the work. What is the most important
goal for your character? What drives his/her thought and actions?
The answers to these questions are his/her “spine.” How can you illustrate it?
- Virtues and Vices - What are your character's most
admirable qualities? His/her worst? How can you make us visualize
- Color - Colors are often symbolic. What color(s) do
you most associate with your character? Why? How can you effectively
weave these colors into your presentation?
- Symbols - What objects can you associate with your
character that illustrate his/her essence? Are their objectives
mentioned within the work itself that you could use? If not,
choose objects that especially seem to correspond with the character.
- Formula Poems -
These are fast, but effective “recipes” for producing
a text because they are designed to reveal much about a character.
See link for suggestions.
- Mirror, Mirror - Consider both how your character
appears to others on the surface and what you know about the
character’s inner self. Do these images clash or correspond?
What does this tell you about the character? How can you illustrate
this mirror image?
- Changes - How has your character changed within the
work? Trace these changes within your text and/or artwork.
Adapted from a presentation by Cindy O'Donnell-Allen.
To see Student
Samples. To see a movie of examples on the
short story “Miss
Brill” by Katherine Mansfield.