Last October, I sat for hours sifting through the Course Atlas in the Freshman Writing section under GERs. Overwhelmed by the choices I had, I found it hard to find one that really interested me until I came across “Visual Writing and Thinking.” I entered my first day of class in January, unsure of my expectations after only reading the vague course description. However, after looking through the class website, which housed the syllabus along with all other information and assignments, my excitement rose.
My senior year English class in high school first exposed me to the genre of graphic novels. We read Persepolis, a memoir, and Watchmen, a comic book, both incredibly popular texts within the genre. After that introduction, I looked forward to reading more of these books but did not expect it to be through a college course. I was really excited to continue my studies and learn more about the style as a whole.
Through exploration of this genre, this course expected students to learn from the following learning outcomes: rhetorical composition, critical thinking and reading resulting in writing, writing as a process, digital citizenship/identity, and visual literacy. This course perfectly addresses all of the outcomes in a way that felt tangible to me as a first year student by enabling me to step out of my comfort zone in an accessible way. Each and every assignment touched on these learning objectives in order to help strengthen the skills I already have and hone in on those I may not be as familiar with.
The literacy narrative project really addressed each and every one of these learning outcomes. By composing both an alphanumeric and comic version of the narrative, I was able to use my rhetorical skills to translate from one to the other. Critical thinking allowed me to synthesize my english learning throughout my life in order to create a cohesive story and by reading other graphic novels, I was able to think about how to create my own comic to supplement my text. Of course, this entire assignment was a process, each component started as a draft and, in my opinion, there are still things that I would love to revise. I believe no piece of work could ever be perfectly complete, and through reflection, I can comment on what I believe could have been executed in a better manner. The writing process of this assignment began with an alphanumeric draft that brought feedback from both my peers and my professor. I then had the opportunity to change some pieces of my paper, to highlight the most important information to translate into my comic draft, which was then peer reviewed thoroughly. I then posted a final draft of the comic to my site along with reflections on the project. I do not see the project as finished as I hope to have; I would love to go back and continue to edit as I grow as a student, and as a person who loves to learn about english rhetoric. Throughout this entire course, I have been posting my work on this site. By expanding my digital identity, I have learned to share my work and have gained valuable skills for building a website and through the completion of assignments that require the internet. Visual literacy is probably the most important objective for this course especially. I have said in many reflections and assignments that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” By supplementing my work with visual elements, I have been able to tell a bigger story, one that cannot only be told by words. The addition of a comic to my literacy narrative emphasized the personal approach to the assignment which is not as apparent with text only.
The books that we have read in class played off of these objectives to supplement the personal work we have created in and out of class. Each and every text we read, all though all within the graphic novel genre, went beyond my original knowledge of the category. I have always been pretty familiar on the topic of the Holocaust but Maus went beyond that. By taking the account of Vladek’s story from his son Art’s interviews and with the inclusion of images, the story becomes more personal, more real. You almost forget that the characters are portrayed as animals, something unique to the story. With the tracing assignment, I was able to reflect on the novel by comparing the ways that the author formatted his story, both rhetorically and creatively. For Palestine and Pyongyang, I was challenged by exploring subjects I was not as familiar with. This subgenre of journalistic graphic novels gave me a new perspective of these places and the experience of being there. Both novels gave me a new view of the ways of life in these places and by comparing the two texts, I not only got to see the similarities and differences of the narrative but also on the composition of the books as a whole. Finally, by reading Spinning, I learned how important it is to reflect. Not only is writing a process, but life is a process and it is important to remember how the past and present shape the future, much like Tillie Walden did through her story. It was interesting to map the book, to create a visual to show patterns that may not be apparent in the narrative at first glance.
I came in to college knowing I did not want to study English. Like many of my peers, I had a pre-professional mindset and English seemed like just another GER I was required to take. However, after taking this course, I have found a new found respect and especially enjoyment for the study of the subject. With Emory’s liberal arts approach, I was able to find a class that really sparked my interest, and did not revolve around reading and writing about the “classics” that I was required to take in high school. The skills I have learned in this course I will take beyond, into other courses in both the college and hopefully, in the business school, and also throughout my life with whatever job I end up doing. I am very interested in mathematics and especially quantitative studies. In addition to my business degree, I hope to take quantitative theory and methods courses to continue with my analytical interests. By learning how to analyze different texts in my english course, I can now take these analytical skills to look deeper into mathematically theory and try to understand these complex topics. Although it may not seem as though the work in this class can be translated into these types of courses, I believe I can use the general skills to help me succeed. In addition, through thorough analysis of these texts, I was able to see graphic novels as an academic source, rather than the mostly comic book piece I originally believed it was. I have used this genre to develop skills that I used to think were only able to be explored through alphanumeric documentation. I did not think that rhetorical analysis could be completed through images the way I have delved into in this course. I have found a new respect for the subject and cannot wait to take more writing classes at Emory in the future.
I hope you enjoy exploring my portfolio and seeing all of the work I have completed this semester.