Portfolio Reflection

This site is an archive of the work that I completed as part of ENG 181 at Emory University during spring semester 2021.

My writing process based on the clothing design process. To read more, check Assemblies under the Sunday Sketches and Reflections tab.

Our semester-long focus on comics forced me to consider non-conventional modes of portraying literature. Before taking this course, my exposure to writing was strictly in textual form. Throughout this semester, I learned about the unique ways writing could be represented. The Sunday Sketch assignments required us to transform words into visual depictions. The “Visual Note Taking” sketch allowed me to convert my boring, convoluted sociology lecture notes. I made a visually appealing mind map that helped make the content of the notes easier to understand. I enjoyed doing this because I am a visual learner and as explained, “…the visual concepts I incorporated onto the page has helped me make a mental image for the research process and different types of sociological research.” In the “What’s in my bag?” sketch, a single image was able to characterize me without using any words. It surprised me that descriptions could be effectively understood in a medium without any words. I reflected and said, “It was similar to a comic in that the image has an underlying meaning that is uplifted with accompanying text.” 

I became especially familiarized with those two learning outcomes in our major Literacy Narrative project. I had to construct a narrative that I then translated between text and comic form many times. In the text to comic stage, I had to think about how to condense the information conveyed in the written essay. In the comic to text stage, I analyzed my visual work to write a narrative that stayed true to the messages in the comic. The project enabled me to think about a life event in a way that was more authentic. The moments we live every day are not basic scripts; visual elements go with our speech and thoughts. In doing so, my creativity and adaptability increased. I maneuvered around what I saw were design challenges. In reality, they were different ways of thinking that I had not considered before.

The Literacy Narrative was also impactful in helping me better understand writing as a process. I started by “researching” my topic. Research primarily entailed thinking through my past experiences. I tried to establish as many details about these memories as possible. I completed two drafts of my essay before submitting it. Then, I edited it based on my professor’s evaluation. I created one draft of a simple, unembellished storyboard comic. I received feedback and edited my comic and also returned to the written narrative. I finally revised my written narrative based on the comic I created. I only created one main draft because the first two stages had streamlined my narrative. In the end and throughout the process, I reflected on the steps I took to write the narrative. I found myself repeating the steps and in most cases, not in one specific order.

One thing I learned from that process was that it is common to return to the revision and editing stages often. As I mentioned after the second milestone of the project, “For the comic, I had to downsize the amount of the narrative I wanted to tell. If I included every aspect of my written text, I would have had many more pages of frames. In order for my comic to be effective, I had to be even pickier about the details I included to ensure I wasn’t wasting valuable space.” I had to do a lot of editing to fit the information portrayed in one medium into another medium. My previous instructors taught me to follow a strict writing process with rigid steps. I now understand why that teaching was ineffective and a hindrance to my true potential as a writer. Using this new understanding, I have connected my writing process to another familiar process. The sewing process is similar in that it is recursive. I connected these processes in my final Sunday Sketch. The Assemblies show my ability to form relationships between two imperceptibly common processes. 

There were many opportunities all semester to develop my critical thinking skills. I had to analyze the comics we read in different ways, including by using assigned theoretical readings. For the Tracing Pages assignment, I analyzed the novels Stitches and Spinning. I found similar patterns between two pages from both books and discussed them. I used a quote from a Hilary Chute essay, one of the theoretical readings we examined. The Halfa Kucha presentation also required analysis and critical thinking. I needed to draw parallels between the portrayal of trauma and recovery in two novels. I compared the novels Kindred and Sabrina. I also used quotes from Judith Lewis Herman and Hilary Chute to help further develop my points. In the time between these two assignments, my critical thinking skills improved. I was able to look at novels at a deeper level rather than at a surface level. My Tracing Pages essay had a good foundation, but I could have dived even deeper with my analysis. For example, I said, “The two different uses of slowed progression of time and movement were used to highlight the significance of both scenes.” After this thesis statement, I do not provide much further analysis. I tended to only showcase plain information shown on the pages. I should have taken the opportunity to discuss the in-depth, inexplicit meaning. On the contrary, my analysis in my Halfa Kucha is further developed. When I discussed trauma in Kindred, I highlighted underlying themes, such as “generational trauma”, which were invisible at first glance.

All the assignments enabled me to improve my digital citizenship and technological capabilities. I started with a good working knowledge of webpage design and multimedia work. Yet, I have been able to learn and practice valuable skills that I can use. Our form of submitting assignments was through regular posting to my webpage. I had the opportunity to individualize my virtual portfolio by designing my website. I experimented with different layouts and tools for my posts and pages. I used new photo editing software and apps to produce my work, the Sunday Sketches in particular. I practiced using creative commons for images and citing all my sources, even my own work. I enjoyed being able to interact with my classmates despite being apart. This is an experience that is unlike any we would have had all together in a non-virtual classroom.  

In such a short few months, I have learned and enhanced a lot of skills that I can use outside of this course. This semester, I also did a lot of writing in my introductory sociology course. I incorporated the learning outcomes of this course into my sociology papers. My writing process was similar, except it included less editing and revisions. I used visual diagrams to convey key concepts. In my observation experiment, I drew a schematic of the setting I experimented in. Visualization is a useful tool that we use every day. We visualize everything from our daily routines to our internal imagination. Why not use that to our advantage for expressing ourselves? A lot of the ideas I took from this course will be helpful in future opportunities. I will be more open-minded about the flexibility of my writing process. I will likely integrate visual elements whenever possible. I will use multiple mediums to express my ideas, especially when that is most effective.

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