Final Portfolio and Reflection Letter

Length: 1000 – 1250 words (4-5 pages)

Due date: 5/10

Look back over the writing you’ve encountered and produced this semester, and then draft a cover letter for your portfolio that explains how you have met the learning outcomes for this course. This letter is an opportunity to think about your writing and clarify — for yourself and portfolio readers — how your skills and awareness of your writing processes have grown this semester. Think of each piece of writing included in your portfolio as an “exhibit” that you are analyzing and reflecting on in this letter.

What should your letter do?

  • Explicitly address the course outcomes and how you encountered them throughout the reading and writing for the course.
  • Guide your readers through the exhibits, discussing your writing while looking for larger patterns. What do you see about yourself as a writer when you step back and look at the work you’ve produced this semester?
  • Discuss at least one piece of writing in depth, considering the stages of the writing process as it developed. How did you think about audience, purpose, or genre while you wrote this piece?
  • Explain how you have applied (or will apply in the future) insights from this course in your other classes or other rhetorical situations. Use specific examples, if possible.
  • Employ evidence to support your claims. Just like in the other writing assignments you’ve completed this semester, you will need evidence to support of your argument; however, in this case, the evidence you will use is your own writing.
    • Remember that you need to incorporate quotes into your own writing with clear framing language.
    • Also remember that you always need your own interpretation and analysis of any quote you use in order for it work as evidence.
    • Forms of evidence from your writing exhibits could include, but are not limited to: quotes from your own finished writing (embedded in sentences or longer quotes in blocks); quotes from early drafts of your writing or notes; reported or quoted feedback from others; illustrations or quotations that show how a particular exhibit evolved; or screenshots or images from your work.

Publishing your cover letter

The reflection essay should become the new home (or index) page for your course site and should begin with a note indicating that the site is an archive of the work that you completed as part of ENG101 at Emory University during spring semester 2018. You should link to the course site, so that a reader who is going through your work can easily find out more information about the course you were in.

You should organize the work on your course site into a finished portfolio showing all the work you have done this semester. Make certain that your entire course subdomain looks complete, coherent, and like you’ve given some thought to its overall design and aesthetics.

Just like with any assignment you’ve completed this semester, your reflection letter should include at least one image (though you can certainly include more than one. You might consider using your Assemblies image as the primary or feature image for your letter — hopefully constructing that chart will help you to think about how the work you have completed this semester fits together, and hopefully it will help to communicate that understanding to your readers.

Halfa Kucha

Pecha Kucha Background

pecha kucha is a particular style of oral and visual presentation where speakers present while showing 20 slides, each one timed to display for exactly 20 seconds. Hence, every pecha kucha presentation lasts for 6 minutes, 40 seconds. 

Here’s a sample pecha kucha, which I chose almost at random from the pecha kucha site, called “Drawing to Document,” by Charis Loke:

For your third major project this semester, you’ll perform something akin to a pecha kucha, but in order to keep the scope of the assignment manageable and to have enough time for you to give your presentations to the class, we’re cutting the number of slides you’ll have in half — so you’ll have exactly 200 seconds, with 10 accompanying images, to present your argument.

Trauma and Recovery

In Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror Judith Lewis Herman observes:

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called “doublethink,” and which mental health professionals, searching for calm, precise language, call “dissociation.” It results in protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms

And here’s another quote from the same book:

Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.

Assignment Fundamentals

Due: In class presentations on 4/13 and 4/15. (We’ll spend the first 45 minutes of each class on presentations. Please be sure to attend class on these days and be a good, attentive, respectful audience for your peers.)

Medium: This presentation will take the form of a “halfa kucha,” which means that you will create ten slides that will each stay on the screen for 20 seconds before automatically progressing to the next slide. Each slide should have a compelling visual image on it with no or very minimal text. Over the three minutes and twenty seconds of the slideshow you will explain your argument orally to the class. I will ask you afterwards to export the slideshow as a video or PDF to publish to your site along with a description of your argument.

Audience: The audience is your classmates, so they have read and thought about and discussed the books — you should not waste time summarizing the plot or giving basic background information that we’ve already discussed in class. But just like with other assignments this semester, assume that you are the smartest, most perceptive reader in the class and you have noticed things the rest of the class has not.

Tone: You can choose a tone ranging from casual to “academic casual” to very formal. Whatever fits your argument, personality, and presentation style the best. Remember, though, that you’re talking about trauma — so if you decide to be casual, still be respectful to the subject and to the sensibilities of your audience.

Title: You are required to have a really good, interesting title for your presentation.

Prompt

Thinking about the two quotes from Herman above and Hillary Chute’s “Introduction: Women, Comics, and the Risk of Representation” that we read earlier this semester, present to the class an argument about how two or three of the books we have read this semester investigate and represent trauma and healing.

Reflection Prompt

Once you have completed your presentation, I’ll ask you to either send me the slides or ask you to host them on your sites — the latter is preferable but might be too much of a pain with the WordPress.com sites you’ve got. Then you’ll write a reflection post and link to your presentation wherever it lives.

Sketch 2: Sunday Sketches

Due: 9/15
Tag: sk2

Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author whose work regularly appears in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. He’s got a mixed media series that he calls “Sunday Sketches,” in which he takes some object from his surroundings and creates a sketch on the page around it. Some of the best such works he’s included in his book entitled Sunday Sketching.

Some examples from Niemann’s Tumblr:

You can see that each of these pieces is an actual three-dimensional tangible object placed into a drawing on paper to transform that object into something new. Niemann then photographs the resulting sketch to create a two-dimensional artifact.

For your third sketch assignment, I want you to create your own Sunday sketch in a similar style.

  • Take a picture of your sketch and publish it as a post.
  • Give your post a funny or witty title.
  • Write a paragraph or two in which you explain the process whereby you came up with the idea for your Sunday sketch and the choices you made in realizing that idea as an actual sketch.
  • Include a link back to this prompt and tag it “sk2

Sketch 1: Avatar

Due: 1/31

Tag: sk1

Objectives:

  • Very basic photo editing
  • Introduction to the concept of Creative Commons
  • Uploading and publishing to your new WordPress site
  • Visual images as representations of complex conceptual topics

Avatar

Once you’ve created your web site, you need an image to represent yourself and/or your site for the class: an avatar. Your avatar can be whatever you want it be but try to create something that both reflects your personality and speaks to the topic for this class in some way.

Start by choosing one or more of your own photos as the basis of the avatar, drawing something yourself and scanning it, or finding one or more Creative Commons-licensed images on Flickr that you can modify. (Make certain to keep a note for yourself of the URL for the photos you use if they are not your own.)

CC-licensed images

Creative Commons licenses work with copyright law so that creators can share their work in a way that allows others to use it with attribution. The video on the left gives a good overview of the concept of Creative Commons licensing. The one on the right gives more explanation of how they work. They are short and worth watching.

You can find CC-licensed images by choosing licensed images on Flickr or with an advanced Google image search.

Edit Photo

Crop and otherwise edit the photo(s) in a photo editing application (like Photoshop or Pixlr). You can create a layered or collage effect, if you’d like. Add your name on your badge in such a way that it’s legible — it can be your full name, just your first name, or the nickname you want to be called this semester.

Your final badge should be square and at least 512 pixels wide and high. Please make certain your badge is square so that it will fit into the design on the student sites page.

Publish

When you’re done, you’ll need to put the image two places, with an optional third:

First

Load the badge into your Media Library and publish it to your site in a blog post. (If adding it as a feature image means that the entire square image won’t display, then also insert the image into the post itself.)

Include information and links in the post about the source(s) for images included in your badge.

Write a paragraph or two about why you chose those images, what aspects of yourself and your interests are represented in your badge, and/or what difficulties you faced in creating the badge.

Please tag your post with the tag “sk1,” plus any additional tags that you think are appropriate.

Second

Go into your dashboard to Design > Customize > Site Identity. Load the image as your site icon (not as the logo).

Finally

If you do not already have a gravatar, create a gravatar account and load your avatar there. From then on, your avatar will show up as your picture when you leave comments here and on other students’ sites.

Sketch 3: Visual Note Taking

Due: 2/14
Tag: sk3

Overview

For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class (other than this one) that you are currently enrolled in. You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.

Giulia Forsyth

Domain of One’s Own by Flickr user Giulia Forsyth

I’m a big fan of the work of Giulia Forsyth. She works in a teaching and learning center, where she helps professors and instructors be more innovative in their teaching practices, and she also works as a visual note-taker and facilitator, which means that she is sometimes employed to go to presentations and meetings and to doodle notes for the meeting.

Check out the four minute video below, where she gives a quick summary of how she began to take her doodling seriously and where it has led her.

On her Visual Practice page, Forsyth has lots of videos and images explaining how she approaches the task of producing drawings that help her and others to not just grab the information that’s been presented in a class or discussion, but to grapple with the material and better understand it. You can also see numerous examples on her Flickr page, especially her Visual Practice album.

Kenneth Robinson

As another example of visual note-taking, you might check out the video below from RSA Animates illustrating a lecture by Kenneth Robinson about educational philosophy. I suspect you’ll find the video much more powerful and engaging because of the illustration that goes along with it than you would if you were simply listening to the audio. What does this mean for your own practice?

Prompt

For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class that you are currently enrolled in (probably not this one). You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.

You do not need to draw your notes in a digital environment, either, though you are certainly free to do so. If you prefer to doodle with pen, pencil, or marker on paper then do that and once you’re done with your drawing, just scan the pages as JPG files so you can upload them to your site. If you have an iPad or other tablet or would like to draw on your laptop or desktop, then you might try apps like GoodNotes, ProcreateInkflow, or Adobe’s Sketchbook or search for other free/cheap drawing applicationsI am completely tool agnostic on this assignment, so make your drawings in whatever manner make sense to you.

Your visual notes do not need to be polished or beautiful or anywhere near as intricate as Forsyth’s. Do try to take this assignment as an opportunity to really engage differently with your material – don’t just make a series of doodles that follow the outline of the lecture or discussion in your notes but try to translate the concepts and information into a new, visual set of notes. You might think about creating flowcharts or diagrams, which are also visual devices.

Once you’ve got your notes, load them onto your course site as a sketch post. Embed the images from your notes into the post and as you do, take a few moments to reflect on the process and then write a paragraph or two about what you learned during the process of creating your visual notes. Did it help you to understand the course content any differently or better to create notes visually rather than just as text? Did you discover anything new about yourself or the way you think in the process? Did you find it enjoyable or find some aspect of it particularly interesting? Someplace in your reflective text, create a link back to this blog post assignment.

Sketch 4: Combophoto

Due: 9/29

Tag: sk4

Stephen Mcmennamy is an Atlanta artist and Creative Director at the advertising firm BBDO. He first came to my attention when I saw his series of “combophotos” that splice together two different images to form a surreal new creation.

Here are a few examples from him:

cauliflower + poodle

paintbrush + spaghetti

bridge + guitar

Take a few moments to look through the images he’s posted on his site linked above or on his Tumblr or his Instagram. Then create your own square combophoto and publish it to your site. You can take your own photos, but probably you’ll want to use CC_licensed images you find on Flickr — make sure you give credit to the originals that you modify to create your combophoto.

The level of technical aptitude for this assignment is actually relatively small, just simple cropping and resizing. The greater part of the challenge is thinking creatively and finding images that you can work with. That said, note that Mcmennamy comes up with ideas and then specifically stages photos to combine, and he seems to often spend significant amounts of time shooting and selecting his images. You won’t have lots of time, models you can hire, or expensive photo equipment to work with, so I don’t necessarily expect your final images to be as polished and perfectly aligned as his are. More important is for you to be playful and come up with images that combine to create something funny or witty or striking.

To edit the two photos together, you can use whatever photo editing software you’d like. Pixlr is a good free web app, as is PicMonkey. Adobe Photoshop is also available for you to use on the computers in the Media Library on the 4th floor of the Woodruff Library.

Once you have your image, publish it in a post on your class site. Don’t forget to give it a funny or witty title! Tag your post “sk4

Write a paragraph about how you went about choosing the two images you combined and why. What challenges did you face as you created your combophoto? What do you think your final image conveys?

Sketch 5: Triptych

Due: 2/28

Tag: sk5

In How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden carry out an extended discussion of comics through repeated analysis of the single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959 (at the top of this post). They explain that “one of the least tangible yet most significant implements in the cartoonist’s toolbox is the varied use of rhythms.[…] One repetition makes a pair. But add another and the repetitions have become a series, the basic building block of all rhythm. A set of three has the smallest number of elements that can establish a pattern (as well as violate it). Three implies more to come” (134).

For this week’s sketch assignment, create your own triptych comic. As you compose your triptych, I most want you to focus on creating a story with a very clear beginning, middle, and end. Your story can be minimalist, impressionistic, comic, dark, weird or whatever you want it to be — but make sure that each panel of the triptych moves that story forward from beginning to middle to end.

i smile more when i belong

You can draw your triptych, or create one using photographs, maybe along similar lines as the webcomic A Softer World, which ran weekly for about twelve years starting in Feb 2003. Emily and Joey published 1248 comics in that time, each consisting of three panels with photographs and words superimposed on them – often it seems to be a single image cropped into three panels, but sometimes it’s three photos taken as a series – and then the title of the comic appears when you hover your mouse over the comic (creating space for a sort of fourth panel or commentary). The comics tend to be quite dark.

I’m looking for compact and playful storytelling through both images and words. It’s an opportunity for you to play with irony, humor, and/or wit.

Add a paragraph reflecting on your triptych comic. What choices did you make in crafting your narrative? Describe the composition process a little bit. What was challenging about this assignment? How is crafting this sort of comic strip different or similar to other writing you’ve done this semester?

Sketch 6: What’s in your bag?

Due: 10/13

Tag: sk6

Find a relatively large empty space. Take your backpack, messenger bag, or whatever sort of bag you carry around with you regularly, empty all the contents out, and arrange them carefully so that they represent a visual snapshot of the stuff you tote around with you on a normal day. Then take a clear photo showing your bag and the stuff and upload it to your site.

Note that like the avatar or the literacy narrative, this too is a type of autobiographical composition. If you have something in your bag that is private, embarrassing, or for some other reason you don’t want it in the picture then make the editorial decision not to include it. Or vice versa: if you would like to assume a certain kind of persona then you might consider including items in your catalog that might be less than fully true.

Add some text to your post listing the items represented in your photo, preferably adding in a bit of explanatory and/or funny commentary along the way. This can be a paragraph of text or a list or whatever format seems most appropriate for you. When these sorts of posts are done by publications, like say The Verge or Timbuk2, they are often not so subtle efforts at product placement but for our purposes there is no reason for you to engage in such advertising games.

Along with the photo and your description of the items, include a paragraph reflecting on what it was like to craft a self-portrait through this photograph. How actually representative is this image of you as a person? What sorts of choices did you make in order to create the image? What was challenging about this assignment? Is representing yourself in a catalog of the stuff in your bag a type of writing? Why or why not?

Sketch 10: Tell a True Story

Due: 04/20

Tag: sk10

In the week or two leading up to this assignment, be on the lookout for a moment that is worth representing in a comic — watch for some sort of small adventure you might take, or a conversation you are part of, or a conversation you hear, and as you come upon them take notes for yourself and maybe make quick little sketches or take photos to capture images for later. Your story does not need to be momentous. You do not need to be able to fully grasp its significance, such as it is. But watch for a story that seems to be a little window into some sort of meaning or that might show something interesting to readers.

Then create a short comic that portrays that moment as truthfully as you can in a way that combines both words and images.

If you’d like, you can make a comic with words to only a few images. Or you can make a comic with only a few words. You can use photographs or draw something or create some other sort of visuals. You can tell a funny story or a sad one, or draw on other emotions.

The only two firm requirements are that your comic needs to have words and images and it needs to show something true … with the full understanding that “truth” is a complicated and contested state of being. (Your story does not have to be a true war story; it only needs to be true.)

That said, I’d like you to try to make your comic in 5 panels. Take a sheet of 11×17 drawing paper if you have it (you can do this with 8.5×11 instead, simply adjusting the measurements that follow) and fold it in half along the longest side so you have a folder page that is now 8.5×11. Fold it again along the longest side, so you’ll have a booklet that is 8.5×5.5. Then fold it again in the same manner two more times.

Think of the front cover of that tiny booklet as your first panel and draw the initial image and words for your story. You don’t have a lot of room to hook your reader, and you have to compel her to unfold to section 2. So make it good.

Then open that booklet and draw the second panel on that space that is twice the size. You’ve got a little more space — use it wisely. Fold it open again and draw the third panel on the space that is doubled again. Write something that earns the space. Give the reader enough they they want to flip to the next part. And again for the fourth panel. You should try to not only use the space, but to also ramp up the excitement in each section. And then again, as the fifth and final panel now takes up one side of an entire page. The largest section should contain not only the largest number of words, but also the most exciting content.

Once your comic is completed, publish it to your site as a post. If you follow the method above to create a five-panel comic, scan each panel and upload it as a series. Feel free to include some pictures of your entire book too.

Write a brief reflection about your writing process for this post. How did you know when you had found the right story for your comic? How difficult was it to tell a true story in a brief comic? What were the most important choices you made along the way of creating your comic?

Sketch 8: Human Document

Due: 10/27

Tag: sk8

The British artist Tom Phillips is probably best known for a project that he began in 1966 and which he has continued ever since–he set himself the challenge to buy the first book he could find at a secondhand bookstore for threepence and to alter every page using drawing, painting, collage, and cut-up techniques to create an entirely new version.

He found W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document and combined the words in the title to create A Humument. Phillips not only created new art works from each of the 367 pages but has now completed five different editions of this altered book.

You can view pretty much the complete series of pages on Tom Phillips site here. You can choose pages, view the original and then view different versions of that page.

For this week’s assignment, I want you to create your own visual poem-thing. You can find your own page to alter if you’d like, but I’ll bring in an old used book that you can take pages from too. Think of it as sort of a collaboration between yourself and the book’s original author or think of it as a game where you get to create new text but within the strict confines of the text available on the page.

Obviously, Tom Phillips has been doing this for almost 50 years and I’m not expecting you to produce work that is as polished or complex as his – nor that is necessarily as visually compelling. And it will probably feel very strange to you as you begin, but just let yourself be playful and experiment with your task. You do not need to be a professional artist to make these pages, but you probably do need to be able to relax your desire to be in control of what you produce and you probably need to turn off the self-critical voice that will tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Alter your page using whatever methods or tools you prefer, then scan the page in color at a high resolution as a JPG or PNG file and load it to your site. You might or might not include in your post the text of your altered page.