Compiling Thoughts of Confusion

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Well, I feel as though the first half of this semester has been nothing but a blur.  So many assignments, so little time.  That's the best way to explain how I've felt through the course of these eight weeks.  From the emotional struggle with my family and friends, to the balancing of insane amounts of homework, I feel as though this fight with my sanity has been unbelievably beneficial.  Although I wish that I could not admit this, I have not been able to adequately balance the blogging for this course in terms of communicating with others, but I feel as though my sparse interaction with other students, when given, has influenced some pretty thought-provoking conversations that I only wish I had the time-management skills to handle the 90+ blog entries and comments that is necessary for this course.  I apologize in advance for any confusion that this portfolio may create, but I strongly feel that this confusion and even absence of thought allows for me to reflect on the past half of the semester and improve my communication skills further in the future seven weeks.

Coverage and Timeliness

As mentioned in the cover letter portion of my portfolio, I have had quite the struggle with posting comments and even on compiling my own thoughts into a single entry.  Most of the time, my thoughts have been sporadic and somewhat brief.

Taking a look at the majority of my works, timeliness has been an issue that I have fought with.  However, the few pieces that I did manage to finish prior to classtime on the given days had some interesting topics that I discovered or analyzed.  For example, in "There Are Only 2 Certainties in Life: Birth and Death," I came up with the possibility that Emily Dickinson's "New feet within my garden go" poem takes on the meaning of the cycle of life and death with the mention of flourishing plants and their contradiction in nature: ice, cold snow.  It was this poem that allowed me to understand further the topics in other pieces like Bartleby, the Scrivener.  Although this discussion was not quite in-depth, I was able to successfully express my opinion of Bartleby acting in the manner that a class clown would to a teacher, and how the teacher, in return, would act.  Also, in "Symbols All Around," I finally came upon the revelation (Yes, I said revelation.) that you, as an English scholar, can make any answer to a symbol correct SO LONG AS YOU PROVIDE PROPER BACKUP.  I will admit this: I have always been one to argue by the book.  I would never really disagree with a statement, because I would not really think out of the box, so I feel that this "epiphany," so to speak, has helped me to work on furthering my debatable claims.

In terms of coverage, I feel as though a list of my entries fall under this category, simply because (and I am laughing as I type this) I was able to finally master a blog type other than that of the one I currently use, which is on  I also, was able to make sure that I did blog something on each required text, although a bunch of these were late, due to stress with other assignments, this course included.  The list of the following are included examples of where I was able to link back to the course website:

- Yes, I am aware that this leads to the course page itself, but this was for the earliest assigned response where we just had to post a quote from the first two chapters of the Foster text on the course page.


At the start of the blogging process, I feel as though I put forth a great deal more than my peers.  I felt very proud, as a matter of fact, when Dr. Jerz specifically pointed to my enthusiasm on covering the topic of Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and the comparison that I made to the popular film, It's a Wonderful Life.  This notice was made right in the middle of class, as well!  This entry discussed the similarities between the situation that Rip is in with his traveling to the future and seeing what life turned into without him and the role of George Bailey in the film and how the angel, Clarence, helps George to see what life would be like if he died.

Another entry in which I feel that I put in quite a bit of writing was in my post on The Scarlet Letter and the use of imagery and word choice in Chapter 1 in the description of the rosebush outside of the prison.  In this entry, I discuss the smoothness of word flow and the imagery in terms of how the senses can all appeal to this single symbol of a blooming rose by a building of dreary appearance.

Though I spent a lot of my words on the novel The Scarlet Letter, I feel as though all of the entries were necessary.  One in particular would be the discussion of the letter "A" that Hester wears and how it appears to give her supernatural powers that protect her against harm and all of its ways.  This entry allowed me to reveal my inner "word vomit" in terms of what I was thinking about the image.  I feel as though discussing this entry gave me the ability to really ask questions and think more in-depth about what I was reading.

My final entry for this category is the one that I feel has done the most for my development as a writer and researcher, and that is the entry on Emerson's Nature, Chapter III: Beauty.  In this entry, I discussed the deeper delving that myself and one of my classmates, Cassie, did on the meaning of Emerson's geographic locations.  For both of us, myself especially, this revelation truly was astounding, and I felt as though I had accomplished quite a bit by doing this extra research of the topic.  From now on, if I come across a topic that is unfamiliar territory, I will be consulting with my friend, the Internet.


Discussion was a very heavily relied upon portion of this project of blogging, because in order to understand what we are learning in the class, it is important that we remain open-minded to what the other peers have to say about our own thoughts.  No topic is too obviously black and white that we cannot add some two cents into the mix.  Take for example the discussion held on Chapter 3 of Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor.  I have always been a big lover of vampires in literature, but it never occurred to me exactly how prominent these figures are in terms of those who take advantage of the pain of others.  That topic sparked a very interesting and long discussion between myself and 4 of my classmates.

Another time when a discussion was brought up was on a very popular topic - the language of the village children in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. This subject was very funny to read my peers' responses too, especially seeing as how even Dr. Jerz responded to the conversation!  Michael McCullough, I feel, left the most humorous response in saying that this language was an omen to our society, as if to say that we're all doomed to speak as such.

In addition to these two major discussions, another entry, on Washington Irving's "The Wife."  My classmates and I all discussed the importance of Mary being seemingly too innocent for her own good, especially with the absence of her thoughts in the story to back up her motives for acting so "okay" with her husband's loss of wealth.


In terms of interaction with the other students, I feel that commenting on their blogs in general would be best left to the "Xenoblogging" category.  However, one particular entry of my own refers over to a previous work of my own in which I am acknowledging a comment made by another student, Valerie Susa.  Valerie and I had conflicting views on Pearl and her position in terms of attitude in the reader's eyes, but after a great deal of reflecting (and by great, I mean a good solid couple of weeks), I began to "see the light" and I further understood her opinion on Pearl's attitude of the "pompous" child being simply because she has had a lot on her shoulders and deserves some praise.  Why not have the child add her own self-compliments in order to raise up her self-esteem?

Another portion of this conversation actually took place in a post that Valerie herself wrote on the same topic.  I began a discussion with her by entering a very long comment to the blog, and not long after, she responded to the comment, with another student's response, Stefanie Wiegand, following soon after.


Each of the following links were examples of where I was able to make an attempt at showing true focus and interest in my peers' work and their views on the works that we have studied. Considering that I have not made too many comments, I still feel as though I have accomplished quite a bit, because when I did engage the text, most of the time I was able to spark tiny conversations in the others' brains that soon flourished into some pretty lengthy discussions on absolute randomness that somehow managed to remain within the subject!  I feel pretty darn excited about that!

This group is a few examples of where I was the first, el primero, to comment on my peers' blogs!  Might I also add how excited I was by the fact that I was first and that I somehow managed to spark more students to respond! :)


Upon compiling these works into an incredibly shabby portfolio, I did happen to come across these particular entries that I thought were amusing and incredibly random.  Take for example my entry on the Nights with Uncle Remus podcast.  The thing I did to end my entry was to include a somewhat blurry but funny picture of a bottle of Brer Rabbit molasses!  Also, for the John Henry post, I found it hilarious how, the second I decide to consider what to write about, the episode of Spongebob Squarepants comes on where Spongebob is depicted in the same sort of conflict as John Henry - man vs. machine.  Another example (that I nearly forgot as I rush through finishing this project - and I said I work better under stress… -___-') is where I discussed Emerson's Nature in terms of Chapter VII: Spirit and I linked the site to an image of Our Lady's Grotto here on Seton Hill University campus.  I felt as though linking to this image was a stronger way to explain my spiritual connection to the location than just to give a summarized description of the place.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. 


Well, I guess this is it.  I have been fighting to maintain my sanity throughout this project, and I'm pretty sure that I am getting carpal tunnel from all of the typing that I have done over the past week, but I feel as though I have truly accomplished something here.  All problems aside, I feel as though I have now begun to see the importance behind the blog.  Though it is quite a pain, both figuratively and literally, to keep up with it, each entry that I create helps to make me recall all that I have learned about the subjects I am covering.  I sure hope that I can continue to improve on this skill… Especially with NaNoWriMo coming up… Thanks so much to all who have helped me maintain my sanity while completing this portfolio, and I look forward to providing you all with more interesting reads to come!

- Alexi J. Swank

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This page contains a single entry by Alexi J. Swank published on October 13, 2010 1:27 PM.

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