Reflection letter

This website is an archive for the work that I completed as part of my English 181 Class at Emory University.

Final Portfolio and Reflection Letter

When I walked into this course on the first day of class, my mindset and expectations were that I would learn to create a comic, and that all of my assignments were to be turned in as comics. Even though graphic novels/comics are seen as “sub par” or “inferior” forms of writing, this course opened my mind up to the analytical depth this form of writing can hold, whether it is through the usage of framing to keep the reader’s eye focused on specific images within a panel, to the usage of dialogue or captions to demonstrate a character’s inner thoughts versus what they spoke aloud. As a result of the various forms of writing that I have created throughout the semester, I have achieved the various learning outcomes present in the class.

In order to succeed in any aspect of a class, you must be open minded to the idea of constructive feedback and constant repetition. For instance, the process of writing my literacy narrative was not something as simple as writing an essay and then clicking submit. I had to create the same product as both an alphabetic text, and as a comic. The first step in the process of creating my literacy narrative was to think about a  specific moment in my life that had morphed the way that I read and write. For me, it was all about going back to a point in time where I felt inferior to the people around me because of my inability to catch on to the English language. In my initial draft I spoke about having difficulty adjusting to the new language because “as the child of two undocumented immigrants, I was forced to overcome a language barrier that many of my fellow classmates had never encountered before.” While this sentence focuses on my cultural divide it did not provide a good transition as to why I was speaking on this topic. This was fixed in the 3rd part of the literacy narrative in which we were instructed to revise and edit our initial drafts, and in the comic version of my literacy narrative.

 In this new version I began the body paragraph with the sentence “My journey began when my parents decided to immigrate to the United States, in order to escape a country that was ridden with poverty and violence” to give the audience a backstory of where I was coming from. This attention to the audience and their necessity for a backstory was only apparent I received feedback from the instructor and my peers. Specifically my instructor recommended that I “contextualize and break down the acronyms used in my narrative to open up the essay to other people who may not be aware of standardized tests used in Texas”. As a result I broke down the acronyms ELAR into (English Language Arts and Reading) and TAKS into (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). Since I had to reproduce the same product multiple times I have achieved the learning outcomes “Writing as a Process” and “Rhetorical Composition”. 

One of the other major assignments that I was tasked with producing was a tracing pages in which I was asked to trace a couple of pages from two of the graphic novels that we had read which were Stitches and Spinning.  The assignment was a test to see whether I was capable of analyzing why a writer chooses to arrange the panels of their comic the way they do and what impact they serve on the ease of reading their works. While I was examining the two pages I chose, I noticed that both writers utilized differences in facial structure by drawing warm-hearted individuals with curves, and more callous and cold-hearted individuals with rigid lines. Specifically, Small utilized “round and soft facial features to denote the joyful and pleasant experiences he shared with his grandfather.” and Walden employed “the effect of soft lines and curves to denote memories of vulnerability and compassion that she experiences when she is in the presence of her cello teacher Victoria.” All of these instances of softer faces were used in direct juxtaposition to the rigid geometrical lines that the authors drew their abusive tormentors with. I also chose to focus on how the authors utilized framing to slow the reader down and allow them the opportunity to focus in on the specific moments in time where the characters were safe. By utilizing the gutters of the panels both writers “[created]a build up of pressure emotions and then a release of relief”. Due to the close reading and analysis I accomplished during the course of the Tracing Pages assignment I have achieved the “Visual Thinking” and “Critical Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing” learning outcomes for this course.

Another major component of this course was the creation and publishing of sketches/ mini writing assignments every Sunday which were promptly called Sunday Sketches. However, in order to even get to creating the sketches, I first had to learn how to create and maintain a website all on my own. Even though creating a website was something that I had never done before I saw it as a chance to learn a new skill which I could utilize in future endeavors past this class, such as if I was tasked with creating a website for the business I will work for, or to simply use as a place of reflection. Even though I struggled to fully understand how to make my website work and function at first, with the guidance of my instructor and fellow classmates I was capable of creating a functioning cohesive website. Throughout the course of the semester, I was tasked with doing simple tasks such as finding an image online and utilizing it as the icon for my website to more difficult tasks that involved the usage of multiple web programs. A specific sketch that personally involved trial and error was the Combophoto sketch in which I was asked to crop and combine two images into one. While the initial idea terrified me since I  had never used photoshop before, after a couple of minutes of toying with the program I was able to produce the sketch. These sketches were assignments that allowed me the opportunity to venture into a creative part of my personality that I often ignored due to fear of being seen as “childish” or “immature” . Since I was given the opportunity to explore my creative nature through the Sunday Sketches I was able to achieve the “Digital Citizenship/Digital Identity” learning outcome.

Overall, this course has taught me the lesson to try new things out of my comfort zone because in order to continue growing and learning as a writer, you must never allow yourself to be boxed in by your limitations.  I have learned that producing the same generic essays/writings is detrimental to my growth even though it is what I have been accustomed to for years now. I have learned to think critically and intricately about the works I have written in order to produce the best product possible.

Works Cited:

Andres, Velasquez. “A Stitch in Time Saves Lives” 17 Dec.2019. ENG 181, Emory University, student paper

Andres, Velasquez. “Rewriting the past on my Exploration of English” 17 Dec.2019. ENG 181, Emory University, student paper

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