This site is an archive of all the various works assigned to me throughout the Spring 2018 semester of English 101. More details on each assignment and other students’ work can be found on Professor Morgen’s site.
Coming into my English 101 class, I strongly disliked the idea of writing. It’s always been a struggle for me to take what is in my head and put it on paper in way that seems knowledgeable. But what I learned from this course is that my focus should not be so much on the way my work looks or sounds, but rather to think about my argument. The common theme throughout all the forms of writing was to have an argument and then to provide in depth evidence to prove it. I know this sounds obvious, but my experience with writing had always been to meet the minimum requirements and to check off all the boxes on a rubric. Just the simple shift in mindset made me consider my own intentions while writing which allowed me to develop greater skills in relation to critical thinking and expression. Unbeknownst to me, throughout the class I have encountered all of the course outcomes and met them with success.
The first outcome listed is in reference to rhetorical composition and states that students should be able to compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes with attention to rhetorical situations. Throughout this course, I have been required to write in numerous forms of text varying from essays to comics to visual models. It’s easy to tell upon my reflection of the semester that all of the organization had similar themes although the actual formats were vastly different. The first step in any assignment was to to form an argument based off of information gathered throughout the reading. Once the information is gathered, the way in which the information is presented is the one of the only ways that the assignments differed. For example, one of the assignments I had was an essay that required a comparison of the usage of vignettes in two different books and another assignment was one in which we had to create a visual model of some sort of recurrence or theme in the book. For both assignments, I had to begin by searching the books for evidence that I could use to structure my argument. Then, the main way that the assignments differed were in the manner in which the arguments are being presented. Nonetheless, both assignments had the purpose of making me consider which way I can prove my argument in the most effective way within the parameters allowed.
The next outcome states that students should be able to summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as they undertake scholarly inquiry and produce their own arguments. The most important way in which I grew as a reader and writer this semester was to start to think about the authors’ intentions in their works. It became much easier to write about anything when viewing a piece of work through that lens. Whenever I would read anything, I would finding myself breaking down every choice the author made and questioning why they would choose it. Similarly, I began to consider the same question while writing my own works; I began to consider my audience. For example, while writing my comparative essay about vignettes which I mentioned in the last paragraph, I would constantly stop myself and ask, “Is this point interesting? Why?”. Specifically in that essay, rather than to just say that both authors used vignettes, it was more interesting to say, “They used vignettes to allow the reader to peer into these places to which most people would not have access and furthermore used the style of the comics to create a an emotional response from the reader that would allow them to create their own opinions.” In summary, this course was the first time in which I truly began to consider the audience; I began to think more critically so that I can form an argument about something that I find intriguing rather than something that is simply relevant to the topic.
The final outcome states that students should understand and practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection. As mentioned in my introduction, I entered this semester despising writing because I felt so directionless whenever I was required to write anything. I didn’t make any outlines or really consider what I was writing about; I would just start writing and desperately keep going until by the end my brain was fried and I was left with something that could technically be called an essay. This lack of structure is clearly evident by one of my first assignments of the semester in which I had to write a short essay explaining my first experiences with literature. I obviously fell back into my old habits because I didn’t even consider to divide the text into paragraphs; the entire thing melted into a long wall of text with no discernible framework. The next part of that assignment was to turn that entire block of text into a comic. Reflecting on that work really made me want to change the way I wrote, so I overcorrected the problem by creating an extremely structured comic which almost seemed robotic. Nonetheless, after taking what I learned from both of the writing processes, I learned how to find a balance of both. I began to get my act together and started using a structured outline where I’d list all the majors points that I wanted to address. Under each point, I’d list several more questions or specifications of the point and list a couple sentences for each. Basically at that point there’s already a full essay which makes it really easy to convert it into any other format of literature or to further develop an idea. I found that with this process I could build the bones of any literary work, and revise and add on to it in order to form a clear picture of what I was thinking.
This semester allowed me to have a greater understanding of where my skills lie as a writer. Though I wouldn’t say that I’m quite adept at writing, at least I find it much more bearable. The most helpful aspects of writing that I learned were the same as the outcomes listed for this course. These skills are extremely relevant to any subject I take throughout my life: the ability to analyze an author’s intentions and the ability to organize my thoughts effectively. Furthermore, the skills I take away from this course help me be a more active member of society by being able to communicate my thoughts more clearly and by spending more effort in understanding the perspective of others.