Portfolio 5 – American Literature

Depth: The term paper draft was definitely time consuming for me, because I had to organize what I wanted to say. I had to find a definition for the ‘American Dream’ by a well-known person, but every quote was so different that I ended up using three quotes to explain the concept. That explanation took about a page and then I got into the stories that I decided to analyze. I only wrote about The Great Gatsby because I wanted to see what Dr. Jerz’s thoughts were before I went any further, but I had no problem making the 4-5 page requirement. I had a lot to say because I am really interested in this topic. Another assignment that satisfies the depth category was the Creative Critical Project. I absolutely love The Great Gatsby so I decided to recreate the scene where Gatsby and Daisy reunite at Nick’s house. I asked three people to help me act it out, and I directed it and as we went through the scenes, I nitpicked because I wanted it to represent my interpretation. Another assignment that I put a lot of thought into was my Term Paper Revision. I went to Dr. Jerz’s office to go over the mistakes I made on my draft to see how I could improve and I learned that once I start using the American Dream to prove something about the books rather than the other way around, my paper will be more solid. The revision took time but I think I finally made some original statements that use the American Dream to prove them.

Riskiness: One safe post was when I completed the term paper peer review reflection. I was assigned four drafts to read and I made a few comments on each paper. I did the reflection by stating some of the downfalls of the papers and what they did good, but I did not spend much time analyzing in depth what they could have done to improve.

However, one risky assignment that I completed was the Creative Critical Project. This was risky for me because I am still not very confident with iMovie Maker and I have never filmed a scene before. Directing gave a different perspective to the scene and I found myself making sure everything was in order. Making sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do was a challenge since one of them did not even read the book before. I also was risky when editing it because I made the beginning scenes black and white to represent Gatsby’s mood. When it turns to color, it shows that Gatsby’s expectations are coming to life. Another risky assignment that I completed was the term paper prewriting. This was risky because I am always unsure about my thesis statements. Coming up with one for this paper was difficult because the two stories I discuss are not of the same time period and look at the American Dream in a different way, but they both have the American Dream concept. It was also risky when coming up with the conclusion, because I think as the writer you can only know what your conclusion is until you finish the paper and I did not even finish it by that point. Writing the conclusion was very difficult.

Intertextuality: My Portfolio 4 for this class involves intertextuality because I have to collect all of my work for that part of the semester and organize it and come up with my best work to display. I also see how I have improved over the semester, which is the whole point of taking a class, to improve on your skills. Each time, I feel like my overall progress is improving and that is shown by the assignments I put into each portfolio. Another assignment that used several sources to create was my Term Paper Revision. I had to find articles to make original statements about The Great Gatsby and The Glass Menagerie. Using the database has become second nature to me because I have had to do it for so many other classes before.

Discussion: The term paper peer reflection was where we had to read four drafts of the term paper of our classmates. Through this process, I learned that summarization in our papers in not necessary and that we could not just use the articles to prove what was already known about the stories we chose; we had to create an original statement. I think some people are still making that transition of deciphering between a college paper and a high school paper, and the difference is that with a college paper you make an original statement, whereas in high school, you use articles to summarize the story or prove something about the story. Plus, the reviews reaffirmed that a thesis is a work-in-progress. You only know it until you get closer to the end of the paper.

The Progress Report (Term Project) assignment allowed me to see if I was on the right track because of the feedback I got from some of my peers. At the time, I got the general opinion that I was on the right track and by reading my peers, they seemed to be on the right track as well. They were working on their projects at a steady pace.

Timeliness: The term paper prewriting assignment was turned in on time, which allowed me extra time to access what I needed to work on. I found out that my thesis definitely needed work and so did the way I needed to organize my paper in general. I think I was trying to prove something about the American Dream rather than prove something about the books BY USING the American Dream concept. We just had to write a sample intro, body, and conclusion, which put me on edge, but it gave me a sense of where my paper needed to go. I also submitted the Term Paper draft in extra early because I knew from the prewriting that my paper needed work. I think the feedback from Dr. Jerz on the Draft showed that the extra time to work on it paid off, because I was able to make some original statements about the stories.

Coverage: One assignment that I completed was the Peer Reflection for the Term Projects. I was assigned five projects to review and most of them had audio, which I had no problem accessing. It was a pleasure to watch all of them, whether it was a Powerpoint, video, or something else. Danielle Sidoti’s really stuck out to me because she incorporated videos of people acting out the parts in The Glass Menagerie and she also asked them questions. I think it definitely deserved a high grade for the critical approach part of the project. Another assignment that I completed was the Portfolio 4. Every portfolio that I do takes a lot of time, which I hope shows, and I makes sure to have at least two examples for each category.

Cover Post/Conclusion: This portfolio was mainly centered on the Term Paper and the Term Project, which allowed me to focus on two of the course goals specifically. One was to demonstrate analytical skills of reading literature. In my term project, I analyzed The Great Gatsby by creating a scene with video to show my interpretation of the scene. I analyzed the dialogue and the characters’ actions so I could apply my interpretation to how the actors should act in the scene. The other course goal was to demonstrate a high level of research and writing skills, which was definitely displayed in my Term Paper. I used the school’s database to find articles on the stories I wrote about to make original statements. I think my writing has definitely improves over the course of the semester because we started out with close-reading so that we could practice our analyzing skills and then moved onto writing, so we could apply those analytical skills to the major paper. There were not a lot of assignments to put on this portfolio but that is because we have been working on the paper and the project. Overall, I believe I have improved, especially analytically, which was my personal goal of the class.

Portfolio 4 – Literary Study

Depth: This part of the semester we focused more on assignments that were due in Canvas, rather than posts for our blogs. One assignment on Canvas that fits the depth category is the Produce Individual Writing Project (IWP) assignment. I chose to do two news profiles centering on the idea of global perspectives. My first profile was on my uncle who is a geologist in Mongolia. I had to Skype him to interview him, which lasted about two hours. I also chose to interview an international student on the soccer team here at SHU, Caro. Her interview took about two to three hours, and both interviews took so long because they had to explain to me the cultural differences of the areas they have stayed in. This is a ‘depth’ assignment because the interviews took awhile, which allowed me to learn new perspectives about Mongolia and Germany. The two papers that I wrote are about 800 words each, and I tried to incorporate as much information as I could. Another assignment that I went in depth on was for my Scholarly Literary Analysis assignment. We had to create our own argument based on a book we read in the class and an article from the SHU database. I argued that Zusak’s story and message about humanity was lacking and wasn’t as strong as it could have been if he put more detail behind the events during WWII.

Riskiness: One safe assignment that I completed was the response to English: A Fluid Language. The blog post on my WordPress is not very long, and I do not go into much analysis for it, which makes it safe.

However, one risky assignment that I completed was the Resume and Cover Letter Revision. I have never typed up a resume and cover letter before, so this was a whole new experience. Also, Dr. Jerz gave multiple handouts for the assignment, but I felt the information on them was more advice on what to do and what not to do. So, I had to do extra research on what to write in both documents. This was risky because I had to step outside my comfort zone by trying something I have never written before. Plus, using more of the ‘you’ attitude was difficult when talking about myself. I had to really watch out about how I explained my experiences without being arrogant. Another risky assignment was my IWP, where I wrote two news profiles about my uncle and a SHU international student. Even though we had a similar assignment a few weeks ago where we had to write a news profile, I felt like I needed the extra practice. I wrote a draft of the two profiles and brought them into Dr. Jerz, and he said that I needed to start with an anecdote then go into the newsworthy part. My draft, however, started out with the events leading up to the newsworthy/current event. I needed to switch the order of my whole paper to fit the news profile ‘arrangement’. This was a risky assignment because after seeing Dr. Jerz, I could see that I still needed work on understanding the process of writing an article. Before submission, I took his advice and switched the order of my story to fit the news profile ‘arrangement’.

Intertextuality: The News Feature Assignment asked us to go see an event and blog about it before and after, so there were multiple steps when completing this assignment. I chose to write about the “She Kills Monsters” production that was performed at the Performing Arts Center. However, this choice posed a problem because I could not take pictures during the performance. I had to contact the stage manager to see if I could take pictures during a rehearsal, and thankfully, he allowed me to take pictures during a Fight Call, where the cast practiced their fight scenes. Before the play, I emailed the two leads, who played sisters, and asked them questions to produce a blog that was written before the show. I also asked them questions after seeing the play and I asked questions to another cast member in the library. With all the interviews, I was able to produce a solid article on the event with the amount of quotes I had. Another assignment that fits this category was my Unit 3 Journal. With each Journal, my grade keeps improving with the more practice I get with it. Each Journal consists of the same categories and incorporates all of the assignments we have done for that part of the semester, and since we are getting closer to the end, the assignments are more in depth and more analytical. The hyperlinks in Journal 3 consist of well-supported and time consuming effort on assignments.

Discussion: The Group Media Project consisted of a lot of discussion since our group consisted of four people. We decided to make a video of ourselves, informing the class of how English helps us in our majors, since all four of us have different majors. We had to collaborate on what ideas we should pursue and what not to do. We emailed each other through a group email and produced a Google Doc that everyone could edit so that we could see what the other one would say. We met at the same time and day to make the video, and we honestly did not have any problems when it came to the collaborations. Maggie uploaded the video to the Canvas submission. Another assignment that had discussion was my Resume and Cover Letter Draft. We all were assigned peer reviews to look over and from reading my classmates’ submissions, I learned new categories to put into the Resume. For example, Laramie included a section that listed the classes that relate to the job that she wants to apply for. So, in my revision, I included the classes that relate to the internship that I applied for by naming them in my cover letter. Plus, some of my peers commented on my draft, which really helped when doing the revision. Since I have never done a resume and cover letter before, it was nice to get feedback, like using the ‘you’ attitude and referring back to the application, because I did not know what to change for the revision.

Timeliness: One punctual post was my response to the play, ‘She Kills Monsters.’ Since it was submitted early, Esther had enough time to comment on my response to the reading. Another timely post was for the News Feature. I turned in my News Feature pretty early, but that was because I saw the play the first weekend it came out. My follow-up story for the play was on time, and I am pretty proud of it because I interviewed three people from the play. I spent a lot of time on it.

Coverage: One post that I completed was for the blog entry of English: A Fluid Language. It was not a long post but I talked about how Wikipedia is not reliable to use since anyone can edit it. Another coverage post that I created was in response to Neil Gaiman’s life advice about mistakes. My response was more of a reflection based on what Gaiman’s advice was. I talked about my journey at SHU so far and how the classes have impacted me.

Conclusion: One course goal was to demonstrate analytical skills of reading literature, and this goal was definitely met during this section of the semester because I got review the drafts of my peers and see how I could improve on my own writing by analyzing those of others. Also, by writing a small research paper for the class on The Book Thief for my scholarly literary analysis, I was able to analyze the text and create my own argument with a peer-reviewed source to help my claim. Another course goal that was met was to examine a wide range of styles in English, and by writing a resume and cover letter, I got to write in a different way. Also, by writing more news profiles, I got more experience with a different style of writing that is more factual. A third course goal that was achieved was the ability to demonstrate a high level of research. This was met with the scholarly literary analysis because I had to use the database to find information to back up my claims. I also demonstrated high research by interviewing people on several different assignments. I was exposed to a different kind of source: people/interviews. I also researched how English helps me in my major, Exercise Science, and I showed what I found through the Group Media Project. I feel that I definitely made progress since the beginning of the semester, because my analytical skills have improved by being exposed to different types of literature and by writing different types of literature as well. This class really exposed me to different types of writing, such as short stories, resumes, articles, etc. I feel like I am more versatile in terms of writing and can have more perspective because I have that experience, so when I read other people’s writing, I can have more to say critically.

English: A Fluid Language

When I highlight on a word and click on ‘look up…’ it comes up with the Dictionary definition and sometimes a Thesaurus for the word comes up. However, sometimes, if you scroll, the Wikipedia definition comes up, which makes me skeptical of the computer’s sources. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, which does not make it a reliable source. It comes in handy when you need a quick definition of something, but it should not be used as a reference for a research paper. So, when I highlighted the word ‘syllabi’, it came up with three options: Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Wikipedia. When I highlighted the word ‘syllabuses’, it came up with only two options: Dictionary and Thesaurus. I would trust using ‘syllabuses’ instead of ‘syllabi’ because the latter gave a Wikipedia option. Maybe this is a bad assumption, but from what Dr. Jerz said about octopuses vs. octopi, I would chose ‘syllabuses’ because we don’t follow the ‘i’ rule, we follow the ‘es’ rule.

Source: English: A Fluid Language

Life Advice from Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s life advice of making mistakes definitely fits this class because all we have done this semester is try things that are unfamiliar to us. For example, at least for me, writing articles and short stories is very new to me. I knew I would make mistakes and get points taken off for how I wrote the assignment because I never did it before. In the process, I learned more about myself in that I do not like to write short stories, but I do like to write news articles. Plus, I did not realize how much it would help me with my major, Exercise Science. Writing papers in my science class is all about writing about facts, not opinions, and the articles for this class made us take out our opinion and write purely factual. That is why I chose to do my IWP on news profiles. I get to practice my skill of writing factually, and taking out all opinion. I realized that article writing is so much different than other papers because your sources are different. You have to talk to someone, rather than find sources in a database or read a book. Not that I cannot do that with my other papers, but for articles, that was the main source that had to be utilized.

However, on a broader scale, I think Gaiman means that we should make mistakes even when it comes to life decisions. When I came to SHU, I had the idea that I would be a business major because I love to be organized and busy. So, my first semester here, I took mainly business classes but I realized that the courses bored me and they didn’t challenge me. So I decided to take some English classes as time went on and I had no intention of minoring or majoring in English, but I absolutely fell in love with the classes and eventually picked up an English minor, and I am even contemplating an English major. I made the mistake of taking business classes, but in the long run, I am happy that I did because I would never have known if I liked them or not if I didn’t pursue the business classes. Plus, with the amount of business classes that I have, I was able to pick up a business minor which makes me look even more well-rounded, so the classes were not a waste at all. I agree with Gaiman that you have to make mistakes, otherwise you won’t learn about yourself and not that every mistake is beneficial, but sometimes, mistakes can be very helpful in the long run.

Source: Life Advice from Neil Gaiman