“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
This website is an archive of the work I created for my ENG 181 course during the Fall 2019 semester at Emory.
Final Class Reflection
When I look over my portfolio of work this past semester the first notable connecting theme comes to me from the constant redrafting process of my literary and artistic creations. In the very first sunday sketch assignment I described how the “process of designing an avatar was surprisingly hard for me,” and how I went through several drafts using images from the films Interstellar and City of God before I could “settle on the image from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Throughout the rest of the sunday sketch assignments — which were supposed to be “throway assignments” meant for a completion credit — I found myself doing more and more redrafting than I had done on most of my high school essays. At its core it was hard for me to settle down on one topic, which caused me to do multiple versions of some pieces such as the real life drawing or the triptych. This consistent redrafting and reflecting on my process has made me more self aware of the indecisive nature of my writing style and writing as a process than ever before.
In addition to the sunday sketch assignments, I now recognize a method in my academic writing that follows the same indecisive redrafting pattern. This pattern becomes most apparent in my literacy narrative — which goes from a literary essay, to a redrafted essay, to a comic, and then back into a literary essay. My main struggle within the initial essay remains to be choosing one aspect of my experience with reading and sticking to it for the whole piece. In part one of the literacy narrative I wrote about how reading “brings me to another place,” how I reread my children’s books my Junior year to “reconnect” to my childhood, and how “reading is an experience I prefer to have alone” among many other ideas. I felt the need to express all of these concepts in that one essay, which lead to a cluttered piece of writing that was not cohesive. I was so dissatisfied with the final product that I completely rewrote the narrative — which was not a requirement for the class — into a narrative that focused more on the weird empty feeling of nostalgia I felt from rereading my childhood books. When I faced the challenge of drafting this essay into a visual comic, I was forced to adapt the nostalgia idea to also include how my visual art — drawing, painting, etc. — was connected to my reading, as I did not know how to represent the abstract idea of nostalgia visually. This adaptation was not fully realized until I took that comic and drafted it once more into a “final” literary piece. When I sat down to write that piece I completely shifted the focus away from nostalgia and to the artistic side of my relationship with reading. This constant redrafting of a major work pushed my rhetorical composition skills in ways I was not used to. The shifting mode of production from literary to visual and back to literary also condensed and shifted my ideas, which was in large part because I was allowed to sit with the same concept for an extended period of time and carve down the ideas I wanted to express in my writing.
The most interesting aspect of the graphic portion of the literacy narrative came from the shifting strategy I had to develop to arrange the written documents into a visual form. I describe this process clearly in my reflection on the piece:
“For each page before I could make a mark I had to ask myself: what is the purpose of this page? And then I tried to come up with a way to convey that feeling as an entire page, while at the same time spacing in smaller moments of plot structure that still connected to the page as a whole. This thematic sectioning by page also forced me to boil down my essay to the core feelings and ideas I needed to convey to properly show my story visually.”
The visual medium is an art form that one cannot form word by word, but instead requires a more careful attention to details and a grander scope of the message that one is trying to convey before one can even put the pencil to the page. I also believe there is a unique component to reflecting upon the process of visual creation. Visual thinking utilizes different parts of the brain than normal strategic writing, and each of our visual assignments throughout the semester — especially the sunday sketches — pushed and pulled our cognitive skills into new directions. These new directions — whether it be using photoshop, combining drawings and physical objects, or crafting mini-comics — allowed me to give fresh insight on my own creative process in my reflections. While these reflections did reveal some aspects of my indecisive writing nature, it also pushed me to critically analyze the general visual medium on a deeper level. The series of sunday sketch assignments in which we drafted a mini comic with 3 panels, then 4 panels, and then finally 5 panels, pushed me to think further about the pacing of comics from a creator’s standpoint. This different perspective allowed me to better analyze and synthesize ideas from other visual texts, which is most evident in my reflection upon the tracing pages assignment — in which we chose pages from two graphic novels to trace, annotate, and then write an essay about. In my reflection upon tracing pages, I describe how “from the first line of tracing I noticed how the panel boxes of Stitches were purposely not drawn perfectly” and that from then on I noticed “new things about the specific panels.” This extra attention to the craft of graphic novels was built up over our reflections on sunday sketches, in class discussion, and the nature of creating my own comics, which used the development of visual thinking to improve my critical analysis tools.
This class has expanded upon my writing skills and knowledge in many ways. Through constant reflection on the sunday sketch projects I learned about my writing process and the importance of redrafts to condense my essays. Furthering my appreciation for an extended writing process, the three part literacy narrative also pushed my ability to adapt to the constraints of different modes of written and visual work. Those assignments broadened my visual thinking as I adopted the perspective of a creator — and not just a consumer — which expanded my ability to critically think about other’s texts. Above these outcomes of my learning throughout this semester, the biggest takeaway I will receive from my work this year comes from my newfound awareness of my writing process, which was granted to me by constant reflection assignments. I now realize that my main struggle in writing comes from me wanting to say everything that’s in my mind, which tends to create a lack of concise direction in my narratives. Luckily, David’s biggest practical lesson came from the stages leading up to our first literacy narrative, in which we sat in class and wrote under a 10 minute timer about our experiences with reading. We were told to never stop writing during that time, and it forced me to get my thoughts on the page. Even though these were very rough thoughts, they gave me a little framework to structure my essay. At the time I included nearly everything that I wrote in that first 10 minute splurge in my first literacy narrative draft, however, recently I’ve discovered that the more useful aspect of this exercise for me comes from crafting my initial thoughts so I may discard most of them and concentrate on one specific one. I have already used this technique to start essays for my astrobiology and film courses this semester. This exercise helped me greatly in my discovery of what I wanted to say for those pieces, and is a technique I also ironically used for this final reflection letter itself. This self awareness that this course has brought me — through reflection pieces and exploring new visual ways of expressing my thoughts — has been the most practical lesson I will take away from David’s classroom, which is an aspect of myself I hope to grow and improve upon for the rest of my life.
“Recently I have found it more difficult to find time to immerse myself in a world. Now I can barely slip a few pages into my mind before I fall asleep. Every so often though, when I find a few minutes to myself in my dorm room, I will pull out a novel and create that world for myself again.”A Playground of the Imagination (Literacy Narrative #1)
“This odd stylistic determination was probably the biggest hindrance to me actually making the comic. For each page before I could make a mark I had to ask myself: what is the purpose of this page? And then I tried to come up with a way to convey that feeling as an entire page, while at the same time spacing in smaller moments of plot structure that still connected to the page as a whole.”Constant Redrafting of this Project and My Life: A Literacy Narrative Reflection (Literacy Narrative #2)
I am a current Emory student (class of 2023). My main artistic passion is filmmaking, although I do love a good comic 🙂
Get in Touch
If you wish to reach out to me about a film project please contact the following emails: