This website was an archive of the work that I’ve completed as a part of ENG101, “Visual Writing and Thinking,” with Professor Morgen at Emory University during the Spring semester of 2018. To find out more information on the class and it’s course objectives, click the links associated with each word. This front reflection letter serves as both a self-assessment of the course, as well as a letter, proving I have accomplished these objectives, primarily Rhetorical Composition, Creative Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing, and Writing as Process.
Each assignment that was done in this class had a clear purpose to it. And each assignment, whether big or small, served a major purpose to the development of myself as a writer and a thinker. I was encouraged to always try the things that challenged me. If I was comfortable with one method, I was encouraged to step outside of that box, allowing me to open up a new one. I was encouraged to do the things that I weren’t necessarily good at, because I wasn’t limited by strict rubrics or poor grades. For once in my school “career,” I actually felt like I was growing in a writing class. Previous experiences often felt as though it was some sort of class that taught how to get an A, not how to write. But this class has finally allowed me to expand my mind as a reader, writer, and thinker, and all from just reading comics.
The first major assignment that we did was an essay about our experiences with reading and writing, followed by creating the comic that was previously mentioned about those experiences. We were not forced to do a five-paragraph essay or something of the sort, but it felt tempting to do so. Years of practice and classes teaching about the five-paragraph essay don’t wash off in an instant. So, I viewed this assignment as more of a narrative. I wrote about my experiences throughout my life in regards to reading and writing, and I organized it a way that felt fitting as I went. But it felt like it was more of a one-draft thing rather than a process. Of course, I would come to learn the true process that was needed for this task.
As the assignments continued, we started to move away from the conventional assignments that were done in my previous classes. Our second major assignment was a major analysis piece for one single page of Maus I and another single page of Maus II, where I argued that “there is power in the small details of a story, even if most readers miss them.” We picked out the micro-details of each page, comparing and contrasting the details between each page and relating it to one major concept. We would then compare this one major concept and relate it to how it affected the book. I began to see new methods of both analyzing works and writing different genres of texts. Along with this, I understood how to write for different audience, for I had to word my essay in a format that acknowledged an audience who was at least familiar with Maus. After finishing this assignment, I felt good. I was quite satisfied with the result, and I felt that I was now capable of integrating the text in ways that were not only print, through quotes, but also through visual and spatial ways by using the actual comic pages themselves. Placing pictures of what I was analyzing throughout my alphanumeric essay taught me the value of utilizing different ideas of others to assist with my arguments.
Then the third major assignment approached, and it was, again, slightly different. This time, it was a compare and contrast essay between Palestine by Joe Sacco and Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. The main difference is that, this time, we were given the challenge to not write in our conventional five-paragraph essay format. This shook me and the entire class, for that’s all we really ever knew. This is where I learned of the importance of writing as a process. Of course, these two graphic novels were quite heavy, so I had to take my time with research. I dove back into each book, quickly reading through to remind myself of the moments I could compare and contrast. What was important in each book? What stood out the most? What had the most impact on me? All of these questions swirled in my mind as I continued to research. After finding a fair amount of comparison and contrasts, I had to now decide the format of my essay. I began to simply free-write, seeing where my mind took me. I wrote the first draft rather quickly, but realized it came out to be a regular five-paragraph essay. The content was there, but the format was not to my satisfaction. I began to slowly edit and revise, until I finally came into a different four-paragraph format. Although it seems as though I just combined two paragraphs into one, it was actually more like me shifting the overall structure of the essay to having a thesis and antithesis rather than three body paragraphs with different points. Of course, this took plenty of revising, both with ideas and format. My ideas didn’t necessarily fit into the new format I wanted, so constant editing and revising was a must. And once I finished, I sat back. I reflected upon my work. I thought about the struggles, the highs, and the lows, and I kept all this in mind so that I knew what to expect from the next assignments.
The final major assignment was creating a “map” of Spinning by Tillie Walden, which created a broad view of the book rather than the detailed view of our first assignment. This was truly bringing it full circle, and with the different format of creating a visual map. It’s remarkable the vast number of different formats that we explored in this semester, and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to grow because of it.
All of these insights into my writing helped me both along the way and will continue to help in the future. Each assignment allowed me to explore more styles, genres of writing, and structures that can be implemented into any piece of writing in the future. The close analysis of Maus will always help me with looking at how the small details affect the big picture. The comparing and contrasting of Palestine and Pyongyang will always help me with understanding how two things that can be so similar, yet so different at the same time. The mapping of Spinning taught me how to look at the broad picture to help truly understand the purpose of things. And the literary narrative and comic taught me how to relate alphanumeric words with the art of visuals, how they work well off each other, and how they can enhance an experience.
Truly, I want to thank this class for teaching me to not be afraid of the new, to embrace the old, and to think differently.
I hope you enjoy my website.