(TRANSFERRING A PAGE FROM 2017 TO A POST)
Hello and welcome to the Autotrophic Bat Web Blog Portfolio (Now With 19% Less Sodium). Contrary to the tagline of this website, not everything on my blog is completely useless (except for that bit in parenthesis in the previous sentence; that is quite useless). I have kept blogs for my creative writing endeavors in the past, but never anything that people other than one teacher and my mom read. So, the format and process of this blog was not new to me, but its contents and audience were. Throughout the semester, I have worked on my skills to select an issue from a short passage from a text and elaborate on it in an intelligent way. From my earliest posts to my most recent ones, you will find that I combine varying levels of intellectual discussion with amusing remarks or illustrations.
Depth: A recent post of mine that demonstrates depth is the reflection I wrote after watching SHU’s production “Nine.” In this post, I recount how my thoughts changed regarding several different characters and events after I watched the play live. Originally, I did not absorb much meaning or enjoyment from reading the script, but after watching the play, I gained many new insights, which I wrote about.
Another in-depth post of mine is my close reading on Tara Maginnis’ academic article about “The Importance of Being Earnest,” where I discuss how her historically inaccurate costumes exemplify Wilde’s play. This post was four good-sized paragraphs long, longer than I normally make my posts, and it integrated quotes from both Maginnis’ essay and Wilde’s play. I used an elaborate example from both texts to make my point and wrapped it up with a quote from a cartoonist I thought was applicable.
My post about Foster’s Chapter 2 that explores the communion of a meal in “The Importance of Being Earnest” also goes pretty in-depth. I use two quotes from Foster’s chapter along with a quote from Wilde’s play to relate the idea of communion Foster discusses. I make a lot of connections between small details in the dialogue with specific sections of Foster’s chapter, which is deeper than I usually go in my posts.
Riskiness: My posts normally stay in a “safe” territory, meaning I write about topics fully grounded in the text and don’t make claims that are too wild or opinionated. However, there were times when I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a few risks.
One such time was my post on the anonymous “Everyman” play, which suggested that Good Deeds set Everyman up to fail by introducing him to his Virtues. But I go on to explain that while she knew the Virtues would not help him beyond the grave, she was trying to get him to rely on his goodness and not his physical attributes. In the end, my “risky claim” is more of an attention-getter than an extreme accusation.
Another post of mine that was risky was the one where I claimed that Robot Helena developed hormones at the end of RUR, shown from her love of puppies and sunrises. This was risky because there is no section of the play that flat-out proves my claim with biological explanations of the Robot’s change in reproductivity, but I used plenty of reasonable examples from the play to support my argument. This post was also risky because it was the first time I included an illustration with my writing: a silly mismatch of Greek mythical figures from a painting superimposed on a science lab I drew, representing the two Robots in love. At the time, I did not know how such an image would be received, especially since the woman in the painting I chose is bare-breasted and is singing a song from “Les Miserables,” which might seem a little random. Looking back, I am glad I posted that image, because it started my habit of including humorous pictures as lead-ins to my discussions.
Some more posts I wrote/illustrated were risky not because of what I wrote in them, but because of what I didn’t write. After reading “The Merchant of Venice,” I created and illustrated posts about Portia’s marriage troubles during the trial and the rom-com-like ending, focusing on the humor of the play instead of the blatant racism. The controversy here lies in the fact that I make the silliness of the couples’ marriage arguments out to be very important plot points, and completely overlook the leering issue of anti-semitism. Also, the cartoons I included may be found offensive by more sensitive readers. (I don’t think they’re particularly indecent, but people can be offended by anything.) In regards to these issues, I purposely chose to write about the comedic aspects of the play rather than the cruel parts, because I enjoyed the humor for what it was. I also think my comics properly reflect Shakespeare’s portrayal of these characters: emotional, ridiculous, and full of themselves. (Plus, I think they turned out cute, especially that one panel where Portia and Nerissa have mustaches and Shylock is peeking up from the corner.) I already know life isn’t fair, and would rather focus on the humor of its worse qualities.
Intertextuality: The Act V “Merchant of Venice” post I mentioned in the previous paragraph involves a Madagascar reference, but I don’t think that’s the type of intertextuality that matters here. But seriously, folks, this post does have some intertextual merit. At the start, I reference Chekhov’s play, “The Proposal,” and contrast its main characters’ marriage arguments with those of Portia and Bassanio.
And speaking of “The Proposal,” my post that finds Foster’s chapter about similarities between literature in Chekhov’s “Proposal” gives a more in-depth example of intertextuality. In it, I compare the relationship between Natalya and Chubukov with the father-daughter relationships in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” and Disney’s “Aladdin.” (Granted, Aladdin is another children’s movie, but my use of it as an example is more professional here than in that “Merchant of Venice” comic.)
My post about the symbolism of light and dark in the York Creation/Fall play contains references to history, culture, and a Meatloaf song. However, the information I draw upon is common knowledge and not research, so it might not be the strongest example of intertextuality. (Unless you are a Meatloaf fan.)
Discussion: I did not engage in any lengthy discussions, but I did spark a few semi-interesting ones. My post on Acts I and II of “The Cherry Orchard” generated three comments from other students who discussed the exaggerated and spontaneous emotions of the characters in the play.
My post about “Good Night Desdemonna (Good Morning Juliet)” inspired four students to comment on my perception of Constance’s journey, including Josh, who had the opposite views of Shakespeare parodies as me. I was glad that my post reached a wide audience and the way I expressed myself was respectful and informational enough to even appeal to someone who disagreed with me.
As for my interaction with other students’ blogs, I did not comment on nearly as many posts as I read. One notable follow-up of mine was a response to Maddie Robbins’ post connecting Lyubov to Gatsby. Her post inspired me to make a comic of Lyubov and Gatsby meeting (and bursting into song). She replied that she enjoyed the comic and thought it captured the erratic change in emotions of the characters in “The Cherry Orchard.”
Timeliness: Unfortunately, my posts are rarely early and more often than not, late. The earliest posts were submitted late because I added this class late and missed the first day, and it took me about two weeks to fall into the swing of the schedule. After that, some posts were still late either because I was too busy or too careless to submit them on time.
Many of my posts were submitted on time but not spectacularly early. These include my posts on the anecdote about medieval drama, the York Creation/Fall symbolism and York Crucifixion style, the one about my enjoyment of “Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet,” and anything about “The Merchant of Venice.” I turned them in some time, usually a day or a few hours, before they were due.
I submitted a lot of my posts some odd minutes/hours just past the deadline. For example, my post about concerning ambiguously gendered characters in the musical “Nine” was only seventeen minutes late: submitted at 6:17 instead of 6:00 no matter how fast I tried to think and type. However, this was the night of the timed online discussions, and I did not have my priorities straight. Because I spent those seventeen minutes on the blog post, I ran out of time to submit the other timed assignments. I should have waited to write the blog post later if it was going to be late anyway, and saved myself several points and two very frantic hours. That is an example of the opposite of timeliness.
Two better examples of timeliness would be my posts on “The Cherry Orchard,” which discussed Gaev and others crying in Acts I and II, and the sad harp in Acts III and IV. I submitted both of them four days before they were due. I’d like to say this was because I wanted to be prepared for my presentation on “The Cherry Orchard” early, but the truth is, I thought they were due that Thursday (therefore late) when they turned out to be due the next Monday. Still, I am glad I stayed up to finish them, because having read and understood the whole play ended up preparing me for my big presentation after all. I do not like Chekhov, so it really helped me to have extra time to think about everything that happened in the play. In case you were wondering why I don’t like Chekhov, here was my first impression of him back in 12th grade:
Coverage: My post that offers a comic about “The Importance of Being Earnest” constitutes as good “coverage.” I don’t say anything particularly complicated or lengthy about the play, but I do provide an entertaining representation of one scene.
I have many late posts that I submitted as quickly as I could to make up for the lost time, but in each one, I tried to make my discussion or argument as intelligent and logical as I could. My earlier posts are good examples of this, such as my sketchy first post about “Trifles,” my analysis of Chubukov in “The Proposal,” and my personal relation to Alquist’s admission in “RUR.” They are not incredible, but they bring up a point and elaborate on it.
I am also reluctantly proud of my post examining the “Wilde as a Parodist” academic article, because at the time, I had not yet read the play and did not understand a single thing the article talked about. The fact that I was able to squeeze a lame paragraph out of an essay I did not understand shows I’m dedicated to my coverage.
Now that the semester is half over, I can look back at the progress I’ve made in my blog-writing and critical-thinking skills. I’m better at selecting interesting, textual-based topics and exploring them in-depth than I used to be. As time progresses, I worry less about making my posts long enough and more about saying the right things to make my point, which makes them “long” without even trying. I sometimes explore topics out of my comfort zone, but so far, my biggest risks are the chances I take by posting my own artwork online. I still struggle to put timeliness over procrastination, and so I need to work on that category, and I ought to leave more comments on other people’s blogs to show that I have indeed read them. Overall, I am proud of my blog and would encourage anyone who likes long paragraphs or goofy literature cartoons to read it.