midterm self/reflection, example from second essay, etc.Posted: October 15, 2008
I have been talking about your to-do list as a writer and about the importance of self-reflection in developing as a writer. That can include reflection on the course overall. Reflect on where you are at this point–what you feel has been working for you in terms of your performance and achievement–particularly the main things we do: participation in class discussion, workshops, reading, responses (glog), writing projects (the process from composting to drafting to revision to editing), individual conferences with me or the writing center. As you think about which of these aspects can be improved for you and which are going well, remember the main objectives of the course to gauge your progress. The objectives are:
Developing your critical thinking and reading skills:
Paying close attention to the implications of ideas and images in a variety of textual forms, including print, film, and digital.
Developing the thoughtfulness of your writing:
Paying attention to the implications of ideas and images in your own texts; we will focus on four ways of strengthening these implications–reflection, illumination, analysis, and application.
Developing the effectiveness of your writing:
Paying attention to the style and presentation of your writing, including form, organization, mechanics, grammar and other technical elements of the medium you can learn to manipulate and control in your writing.
As part of this midterm reflection, I will require each of you to meet with me for an individual conference (as short as 10 minutes, longer if desired) at some point by Monday November 3. You can do this during office hours or schedule another time with me. We can discuss your past writing projects, your next project, aspects of the course that are going well, areas that you and I might improve.
Writing Project #2: ex/sample
I have been emphasizing that writers develop by experimenting and experiment by reading and reflecting on how others write. Here is a writing sample to consider from the second project. I think Rachela’s essay offers a good example of an engaging style by means of sentence variation (the issue from the last editing workshop) and sentences that are clear in active construction. The essay also shows close/slow reading of text that is effective. A smart, engaging title doesn’t hurt. The essay is copied below. You can take a look at earlier drafts of the essay by going to Rachela’s blog.
English – Professor Meehan
September 25, 2008
Life is fragile. Death is inevitable. It’s common knowledge on the human condition. Still, both continue to shock and destroy people on a daily basis. People know everyone dies someday, but death doesn’t seem any less shocking when it occurs. If Victor Frankenstein were alive and real, he could vouch for that. His whole family died at the hand of his creation, leaving him physically unscathed. He acquired an immense amount of knowledge and his life changed forever. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Mutability sheds light on the fragility of the human condition in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by foreshadowing the grotesque demise of Victor’s family while exemplifying the inevitability of change in human existence.
Mary Shelley made an interesting, but appropriate, choice when imbedding her husbands poem into Frankenstein. Although the first two stanzas are absent within the text, the entire poem presents a disposable view on human existence. Within the first few lines, people are compared to “clouds that veil the midnight moon” (Mutability), a handsome image only to be diminished a few lines later when “[the] night closes round, and they are lost forever”( Mutability). Human existence is a precious entity, but it’s as fleeting and airy as the clouds in the sky . And by creating life by an unnatural means, Victor fails to comprehend the delicacy of existence itself. Seemingly, as punishment for his actions, his entire family is murdered one by one leaving Victor to deal with his own insanity and guilt. The soon to be short-lived existence of Victor’s loved ones is implied within these two lines. Soon enough, the dark night, the monster, will come and devour the clouds in the sky, Victor’s family. The included stanzas within the text imply the inevitable nature of mutability, and in Victor’s case, for the unfavorable. But, Shelley doesn’t act as if Victor is narrating the poem. It’s coming from a narrator outside of the story, a different entity looking down upon Victor, almost forewarning him of the disaster that lies ahead. Mutability lies within the novel where Victor sits at the river, Arve, and contemplates his life at the moment. He does not think in terms of Mutability, it is being whispered in the distance where he cannot hear. The narrator watches over him, telling the reader what the character doesn’t currently know.
Shortly after Victor sits and contemplates his current situation, he sees the monster running at him with “superhuman speed” (Frankenstein 88). And in an instant his life changes for the worse. With two family members already dead, the poem becomes ironic, because shortly thereafter it presents itself on the page, the serenity in the peaceful nature scene changes dramatically into something horrid. Thus proving that “[his] yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow…” (Mutability). Mutability foreshadows the arrival of the monster, but also the deaths that will occur in the near future. Not only this, but the sudden mutability of Victor’s life fluctuates through his haphazard maladies, which eventually lead to his own death. Victor’s health cannot even remain stable or constant. Each different component and struggle in Victor’s life somehow is depicted in the poem, if it’s not the death of his immediate family or his own health. The duality of the Mutability makes the intertextuality crucial, if not already valuable because it functions in multiple circumstances within the text .
But, Mutability also takes an ironic turn when compared to the monster’s life. Victor created a living creature by unnatural means. He affected the mutability of something else’s life. The monster is thrown into the middle of life, never experiencing childhood or learning in a way that every human gets to encounter. He doesn’t get to “conceive or reason, laugh or weep” (Mutability) in the same manner that everyone else does. The monster is abandoned and then forced to “conceive [and] reason” (Mutability) on his own, without any prior reference. Once more, the omniscient narrator tells the reader what Victor cannot see for himself. Creating a creature and playing God does not end well. Too much knowledge can result in disaster. The monster is used as a vehicle for this recurring theme; even if is not the monster’s personality itself, rather the circumstances that brought him into this world.
Mutability is a piece of sophisticated poetry. It contains ambiguities and few abstractions, this and it states an opinion on the human condition directly relating itself to Frankenstein. Mary Shelley utilizes its many facets to emphasize the delicacy of human existence as well as to foreshadow the death of Victor’s family, and soon thereafter himself. Although the poem is short, it relates to most of the novel, thus proving the importance of its intertextuality throughout the entire piece.