At first glance, English 181 seems to primarily focus on understanding the secret language of comics. However, in the pursuit of unearthing this secret language, I uncovered a treasure trove of information that became essential in understanding the broader secret language of literature.
I came to understand this language through the various learning outcomes that this class encourages its students to achieve. Over the semester, we were challenged with a plethora of different assignments. Each task focused on developing specific learning outcomes. The first Learning Outcome listed on the course website is “Rhetorical Composition.” This outcome involves “composing a variety of texts and using a number of composing technologies, [where] students demonstrate an understanding of the audience, purpose, and constraints.” It’s important to note that our class is unique in that our assignments were finalized and publicly posted. Therefore, in my work, understanding the audience, purpose, and constraints was a necessary consideration when publishing a page or post.
More specifically, the task that required me to compose a variety of texts, using several composing technologies were my Literacy Narratives. The array of creating different versions to represent the same narrative allowed me to understand my main ideas better. When going back and making revisions for my third Narrative, I used the ideas illustrated in the Visual Narrative to enhance the flow of the alphabetic text.
Another Learning Outcome I achieved through my Literacy Narratives was “Writing as Process.” This outcome aimed to encourage students to “learn about their own writing process and doing guided reflective writing about that process, [as well as] learn to critique their own and others’ works. For this assignment, we were given the prompt to “analyze key experiences that shaped the way we read and write today.” The first rough draft of my alphabetic text recounted these events as though I was just reading them from a list.
I was satisfied with this work until I met with my professor during office hours and realized that there was more to this assignment than what I initially wrote. I went back and reworked this draft to take a closer look as to why these experiences had such a profound impact on the way I read and write. This narrative underwent various revisions by myself and my peers, which then transformed it into a comic. This comic consisted of twelve panels that retold the alphabetic tale with poetry and illustrations. “The process of creating a comic highlighted the main ideas of my first Literacy Narrative, and in my revisions, I believe I was able to use those main ideas to increase the clarity of my alphabetic text.” Finally, I had a complete story of what moments shaped me as a writer, and more importantly, why these moments mattered to me.
Each week we were assigned a different Sunday Sketch that allowed us to explore and experiment with some of the concepts we learned in class. We would then reconvene the following week and share what we did as well as critique each other’s work. Not only were these weekly tasks interesting, but they also exemplified how a singular set of instructions could be interpreted in twenty different ways. The other way I explored the outcome of “Writing as Process” was in my reflection posts about each significant assignment and these Sunday Sketches. The reflections allowed me to self assess my writing process and evaluate what methods were effective in creating my best work.
My Sunday Sketches were also highly beneficial in allowing me to accomplish the outcome of “Visual Thinking.” Visual thinking encompasses “strategies to analyze and interpret visual information and to experiment, assemble, and arrange visual and written documents.” All of the Sketches assigned throughout the course challenged my visual thinking by allowing me to interpret and experiment with different ways of completing tasks. For example, in my tenth Sketch, I explored the idea of implementing a loop into my comic, where the last panel was identical to the first. I used this loop in a comic titled Loneliness to “drive home the idea that no matter how big I get, I’ll always feel small on the inside.” Another sketch that pushed the boundaries of my visual learning was my second sketch, where I incorporated a real-life object into drawn art. This project was my first time combining two images, and I was very proud of my results. Overall, the Sunday Sketches we completed this semester allowed me to implement the concepts we learned in class into my work and played a significant role in the understanding of course material.
Additionally, another Learning Outcome that was developed throughout this course was “Critical Thinking and Reading, Resulting in Writing.” In other words, it’s the ability to integrate other texts into our work from a variety of sources while making sure that all citations and adaptations are correctly handled. The most significant assignment that pushed me to understand this outcome was Tracing Pages. This project involved analyzing how “the Authors of Spinning and Stitches use similar illustrative techniques to respond to different rhetorical situations regarding the motherhood depicted in their books.” This project required me to select comic panels from two different visual narratives as well as citing evidence from Hillary Chute’s essay “Comic for Grownups?” Ultimately, I was able to create a comprehensive analysis of these two books and provide significant support to substantiate my thesis.
The final Learning Outcome that was developed through this course over this semester was “Digital Citizenship/Digital Identity.” This outcome entails practicing good digital citizenship and comprehending concepts of intellectual property. Two assignments that contributed to my understanding of this outcome were my Sunday Sketches and the Halfa Kucha I created. These assignments required various images that had to be appropriately used and cited. Through this process, I also developed as a better researcher because these assignments often needed me to find non-copyrighted images that were more difficult to locate.
Before coming to Emory, the relationship between me and my writing was always distant; I didn’t enjoy my writing assignment and didn’t invest myself in them. When we began our first Literacy Narrative, I approached this task the same way and went about retelling my journey to becoming a writer as though it were a chore. As the semester progressed, I began to realize how important it was to understand my writing style and how my journey to becoming a writer played a significant role in why I write the way I do. During my first office hours, I spoke with my Professor, David Morgen about my Literacy Narrative and how I differentiated my writing poetry from writing essays. Through our conversation, and through this course I learned that even though my poetry and essays may look different, they still have the same purpose; communicating what I care about and allowing others to understand my own secret language.