samples: project 1

After each project, we will reflect upon what we have done and where we might go next with our writing (and to use the hybrid term, our wreading). One way we can do this is take a look at what some writers in the class have achieved. To that end, I remind you that you can benefit from browsing what your peers did with their writing projects: take a look at what they posted to their blogs, perhaps even offer a comment. To inspire you to do that, I am selecting a couple essays out in which I noticed some things that were effective, that we might all consider and even ‘sample’ in our work. This doesn’t mean that the essays I have linked are perfect or the only way to write; it means that the aspects I point to are examples of a strength that we can not only appreciate but learn from–in fact, you will find that I will always point out in every paper something strong and something that could be worked on.

Reflection. Our focal point for the first project was critical reflection: developing the reflection on past experience and its relation to our critical vision (in more formulaic terms you might remember from high school: how a supporting example supports and develops your thesis). I saw a variety of good examples of this; two you might take a look at are pieces by Shannon (particularly how her reflection develops pathos) and Emily.

Vision/Thesis. We will continue in the next project to focus on critical vision: ie, our thesis. I will be suggesting that while a thesis/vision needs to be clearly stated at some point, usually not too far into an essay, it also can’t be bland and blunt. The essays by Kelsey and Emily offer good examples of how you can have a more narrative opening (putting the reader into a story) and still have an effective thesis that you pull back to in a second or later paragraph. Devin’s piece offers a good example of stating a vision/thesis up front and directly (yet still not needing to be boring or overly blunt).

Presentation. Finally, I want to emphasize that a title in my view is an important part of any essay or piece of writing–at the very least, a writer chooses to have a piece ‘untitled’ but never should simply not title it or worse, title it ‘project 1.’ You miss the opportunity to engage your reader both in terms of style and in terms of vision. Consider Jessica’s title as one example of the way this can work. I am immediately intrigued and want to read more. Another sample to consider: notice how Sara uses an epigraph to introduce her essay and focus our attention. By the way, Sara offers a good example of revision–if you browse her earlier draft posting, you will see how she made the essay stronger by shaping/developing some things that were already in it, but needed to be brought out.

class discussion: 9/1

talked about the first writing project–the assignment is described on the “Writing Projects” link from my homepage. Started to ‘compost’ some ideas: autobiographical experiences you have had as a reader and writer.

Went back to page 22 in GE, which I suggest is a good model for how we can use autobiographical reflection to develop critical reflection–our focal point for the first essay. In other words, how we use personal voice and experience effectively in our writing without being superficial or sounding like we just want to talk about ourselves.

Birkerts makes a distinction between reflection (depth, understanding) and nostalgia (quick, immediate, desire to return to the past). In writing and developing critical reflection–we also want to focus on reflection rather than nostalgia. I noted that elsewhere in his book, SB is guilty of nostalgia, especially when he generalizes about new technologies.

I introduced three rhetorical terms we will get back to at different points: logos, ethos, pathos. The passage on page 22 I think is effective in using the reflection to develop pathos: our connection and sympathy with the writer. By the way, keep your eye on this idea of a reader’s sympathy–as the word will come up often in Frankenstein.