This site is an archive of the work that I have done as a part of ENG101 at Emory University during the Fall semester of 2018. The class is called the Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing and there is a link to it at the bottom of the page. During my period of registration, I was navigating through the First-Year writing courses I thought I was interested in and I was shocked that most of them were already closed. That was because my registration time was very late. I saw that this class had one spot left, so I quickly signed up for the class and hoped for the best.
On the first day of class, I learnt that this class does not use Canvas which scared me because it was unconventional; each student had to make their own website to which any person could have access to. I felt exposed because throughout high school, I had only the teacher as my audience and I acknowledged the fact that writing is not my strongest suit. Taking my first writing class in college, let alone posting my work on a website for all my classmates to see, made me feel intimidated. Then, I realized that this method was actually very effective because it prepared us for the real world. People do not write for the sake of meeting certain rules or getting a high grade but to be creative and influential to other people. I appreciated the unique method the professor used because it showed deep care about improving our writing skills and preparing us for the future and not so much about the grade. For the writing assignments in this class, I did not write for the sake of a letter; I had an intrinsic motivator to improve my writing skills in a creative way and become a better writer who is well-equipped to take on the real world.
Due to the creativeness and the exceptionalism of the assignments of this class, my skills in composing texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes drastically improved. When I took a look at the assignments of this class, I noticed that this class had combined two of my weakest skills, writing and drawing. Not only did I have to write, but I had to “visually write,” which is why the very title of this class was disheartening (Visual Thinking and Writing). However, the assignments of this class were beautifully designed to appeal even to those who claim to be “non-artsy” people (I used to be one of those people and this class had taught me that there is no such thing). The lighthearted Sunday Sketches made the transition to the major assignments of this class a lot smoother. Although they seemed random and disorganized, I reaped and employed the benefits into later activities. The benefit of the Sunday Sketches was that they were consistent and creative -which for me was challenging- so I worked on my artistic skills every week. Then, smoothly and steadily, they intertwined writing with drawing. Without me realizing at first, what this had done is by the time I got to Tracing Maus, I had some background in presenting and diving in deeper into the meaning of visual drawings. They had developed my skills in analyzing and composing texts of different mediums, such as comics. By the time I had gotten to doing my Tracing Maus assignment, I had already developed specials lenses to be able to see details so meaningful that would have otherwise gone inconspicuous. For example, after I had gone through combining writing and drawing into my own assignments through the Sunday Sketches and observed how much more powerful it made my argument, I realized that “using comics as a medium allows Speigleman to not only bring life to the story, but to also guide the reader to visualize the plots a certain way” (Tracing Maus). The Sunday Sketches developed my visual thinking strategies which in turn allowed me to analyze and interpret visual information such as Maus. I was able to make deeper observations about the power of drawing out the story along with words: “merely writing the story using words leaves the reader with the task to re-imagine the story; the re-imagination is influenced by the reader’s previous life experiences and biased thoughts” (Tracing Maus). The Sunday Sketches had allowed me to think of comics not just as a medium for kids’ books, they had allowed me to dig deeper into the benefits of this medium and realizing that Speigleman chose this medium to grant him the ability to guide the audience to picture the plot in their minds in a more uniform way.
Needless to say, this class required the employment of technology and engage in online spaces as our work was submitted to a website to which everyone had access to. I interacted with websites of other students in the classroom and had to practice good digital citizenship. Also, this class made me realize the importance of and utilize the concepts of intellectual property when using someone else’s work on my website.
The most challenging assignment of this class was Comparing Stitches and Spinning. Similar to other activities in this class, this comparison essay was not the usual comparison essay that I was used to writing in the past. I had to compare the two essays through the lens of Hillary Shute’s “Women, Comics, and the Risks of Representation.” I was dismayed because I was not used to the sophistication of the language of Shute’s essay. However, I began the essay with a positive attitude because at that point of the semester, the previous assignments of this class had taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable and confident being unconventional. Despite the drudgery of reading Shute’s essay, I was able to analyze and synthesize some of the ideas that Shute had in her essay. I even undertook scholarly inquiry in order to produce my own arguments about comparing Stitches and Spinning that did not exactly align with what Shute had to say. Comparing the medium of comics to other mediums, Shute makes the argument that “comics give the reader control over when and how to observe moments of trauma” (Comparing Stitches and Spinning). While I agreed with Chute’s opinion for the most part, “comic artists still have control on how long the reader might look at that image.” I gave examples from Stitches and Spinning to support my claim. This activity had enhanced my ability to make scholarly arguments and support them with evidence.
What maximized my benefit from every other activity and prepared me for this reflection letter were the minor reflection letters that we had to do after every activity. When I had to do the first reflection, I realized how challenging it could be to evaluate and criticize one’s own writing. Yet, I acknowledged the importance of this activity because I was to critique and appraise my own writing at a deeper level. The reflection posts allowed me to mull over the difficulties I faced during the assignment, the shortcomings of the assignment, and what could have I done differently that would have made the assignment better. This method had allowed me to improve the writing I had to do for other classes such as my Freshman Seminar in Anthropology. Our final essay was about building a potential hoax that changes our understanding of the evolution of human origins. After I was done with the essay, I wrote my own reflection letter on that essay and after I did that, I realized how I could make the hoax more believable. Doing this final reflection letter was not as challenging as I might have expected because the reflection posts made me not only focus on the specific assignment, but rather the bigger picture; my journey of becoming a better writer. Thus, I already had plenty of ideas in my head that I only needed to organize and articulate into words.