This website is an collection of work that I have completed Fall 2018 as part of ENG 101 “The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing” taught by professor David Morgen at Emory University. As a completion of this course, my reflection letter embodies self-growth and highlights mastery of the following learning outcomes.
At the beginning of this semester I didn’t know what to expect from this english course. Comics, weekly sketches and creating my own website all sounded intimidating. I did not know how well I would adjust to this new way of learning. When the first week of class rolled around, my worries were quickly uplifted. For the first time in a while, I was inspired to step outside of boundaries that once constricted my writing. I was inspired to be creative and look at things from a different perspective even if I might not fully understand it. I was inspired to seek out patterns in texts that I read… I was inspired to be myself! Having this support enabled me to produce work that I initially thought I wasn’t capable of and gain skills that I will use beyond this course.
All of the major assignments that I completed this semester possessed a different style which allowed me to successfully complete learning outcome one of composing texts in various genres from multiple modes. Each assignment that I completed was posted to my website with a reflection. Some were drawn out while others were typed in a narrative form or essay. Tracing Maus, for example was a assignment where I practiced close reading to analyze the rhetorical situations from Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II. I rhetorically analyzed the two pages from three different views. In “Distance Cannot The True Value of Love”, I focused on Spiegleman’s choice of flow. In “Vladeks Cleverness” I honed in on the choice of moment. Lastly, in “From Freedom to a Prisoner”, I broke down the choice of image on each page. In addition to the rhetorical analysis, I traced one page from Maus I and II and annotated them as a practice of close reading and lastly created my landing page which set the groundwork of this assignment in a full rhetorical analysis. Within this one single assignment I formed three different genres of writing.
My mastery of the second learning outcome is displayed through my Stitches & Spinning comparative analysis. This assignment was very different because of the organization and general breakdown. Unlike previous assignments, this one resembled a more structured type of prompt. The purpose of the assignment was to compare Stitches and Spinning through a lens of Hillary Chute’s, “Graphic Woman” where she makes several claims concerning comic artists and trauma. These restrictions did not limit my creative ability, but instead it guided them so I could create a valid argument of how the two narratives compared. In my comparative analysis, I narrowed in on Chute’s view of how silence, invisibility and sexuality played a role in the trauma that was faced by David Small in Stitches and Tillie Walden in Spinning. After producing a draft and receiving feedback from professor Morgen, I was informed that I was undercutting my own ethos within the comparative analysis by repeatedly stating “I feel” or “I think.” Seeking out help from Emory University’s writing center, I was able to repair my ethos, strengthen my argument and create a more sturdy conclusion to produce a final draft of my comparative analysis of Stitches and Spinning. Completing this major assignment and overcoming my mistakes allowed me to successfully fulfill the learning outcome of summarizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the ideas of others as I undertook scholarly inquiry to produce my own argument.
The next learning outcome that I fulfilled this semester was practicing the writing process. Every major assignment was critiqued, revised and reflected upon. Peer review was even used on some assignments like the literacy narrative and comic to enhance the writing process. The literacy narrative was one of the first major assignments that I completed in this class where I had to analyze the key experiences that shaped me as a reader and writer. I started off my essay by directly expressing how I used to feel about reading and writing, “as a child I was never a fan of a reading or writing. I felt as if it was a waste of time and there were more important things to do with my life….” After revising and reflecting on this essay and publishing it to my site as literacy narrative part one, I revisited this essay a few months later and transformed it into a comic. In the comic piece of my narrative, I drew out an extremely rough sketch to lay the basis of my story board. Scott McCloud’s Clarity Diagram, served as a resourceful tool for me to discover useful ways to communicate through my comic. Thinking about choice of frame and flow were very beneficial to the process of creating my comic and engaging my audience. I even incorporated a clock as an aid for my audience to demonstrate the progression of time from my elementary to high school days. Following revisions to my rough sketch, I reflected on my comic and published it to my site. Under a month later, with a clearer sense of the ideas in my narrative, I revisited my literacy comic to produce a final narrative essay as part three. This assignment was the final piece in the literacy segment of this class. The tone was similar to that of my literacy narrative part one by starting off immediately expressing my lack of fondness for reading. “I hated reading. Maybe hate is too extreme, but I surely disliked it as a kid.” Unlike my first literacy narrative, this one better aligned with my literacy comic and experiences. All together, the literacy narrative and comic caused me to have a firmer grip on the writing process.
Mapping Climate Changed and the sketches that I completed throughout this course allowed me to successfully demonstrate learning outcome four: demonstrating visual thinking and interpreting visual information. Practically every assignment that I published to my website had a visual representation attached to it. The weekly sketches like visual notes or even data gathering demonstrated another way that information can be analyzed. I even began to use visual note taking skills to help me in other courses. The diagram that I created for Mapping Climate Changed enabled me to interpret a recurring pattern of raining money that I did not understand on my initial reading of the graphic narrative. Despite my initial hesitation of drawing because of my poor artistic skills, visual representations has ultimately become a habitual process for me when I want to think outside of the box.
The fifth and final learning outcome was fulfilled by my assembly of my website, my ethical uses of outside images with creative commons licensing and utilizing online space to provide feedback to my peers. In the beginning of the semester, I had no experience with creating online web pages. Professor Morgen reassured the class that by the end of the semester, the task that my classmates and I initially deemed as difficult would be extremely simple. He was right. Now I like to consider myself as a genius when it comes to navigating WordPress.com. I have also utilized my iPhone for creative purposes like crafting my assemblies sketch. After this course, I plan to continue to use my website as a resource for future job opportunities to demonstrate my ability to employing technology appropriately.
Every assignment that I completed in this class has paved the way for me to become a stronger writer and comic enthusiast. I am now able to compose texts in multiple genres due to the variety of writing styles that I explored. My ability to undertake scholarly inquiry to produce powerful arguments is stronger than ever after working out the kinks of my Stitches and Spinning comparative analysis. I have discovered how important and the advantage of repeatedly practicing writing as a process. Visual illustrations have given me a platform to experiment with, assemble and interpret information. Lastly, the digital space that I have worked in has allowed me to responsibly and effectively use creative commons and collaborate in online spaces. Moving forward in my college career, I am eager to exhibit the skills I have gained from this course to various areas in my life.