Sissy Rodriguez's Portfolio

Growth & Acceptance: My English 150 Experience

Dear Reader-

            I’m beginning the process of finishing up my time in English 150, Introduction to Literary Studies. Throughout this course, I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever predicted about various aspects of literary studies. As someone with very little experience within the English department, I was very intimidated beginning this course. Throughout the past few months, I’ve learned how to reach and exceed my own expectations for myself throughout various literary projects and assignments.

My method to the madness was essentially start out small. I created very small milestones for myself that I aimed to reach in each class, in order to not overwhelm myself or feel defeated in anyway. By doing this, I was able to push the envelope in each of my products, and the results were incredible. I’m very proud of each of the works I’ve produced in this class; including videos, essays, reviews, etc.

            Introduction to Literary Studies has really showed me the immense value literary studies holds. I never had much use for courses like this in the past, therefore not respecting or seeing the true value within the literary department. However, I’ve learned so much about myself and how to look deeper into literary works to evaluate their surface and inner meaning.

 A unique aspect of this course is the tie in to 21st century technology. Within English 150, we took advantage of various media platforms, including videos, social networking, and other multimedia platforms. Originally, I would never have thought of putting the two together: Literary studies and technology. However, the pairing of the two made for an incredible semester and an ease of understanding for someone like me who is very unfamiliar with these types of materials. It also allowed for me to learn how to express my ideas in untraditional ways and watch my peers do the same.

            Over the past few months, I’ve assembled various works which you will see below. Each includes a deeper explanation of the process and what I’ve gained as well as what I hope the reader gains from each project. The progress will also be charted for the reader to evaluate, and see how a “literary newbie” has come into her own to create a portfolio that has far outreached my expectations for myself by leaps and bounds.


Sissy Rodriguez

Time to show ENGL150 what a Poli Sci and PR major can bring to the literary table. Time to begin my portfolio. #ilit

— Caroline Rodriguez (@carolinerod1124) April 14, 2016



Semester Projects

1. Poetry Essay- "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou Analysis

  • Part 1: Draft: My first draft of "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou was my very first project I started in ENGL150. As someone with a heavy background in argumentative writing, that's exactly how my paper began. I aimed at showing the reader how the poem can be evaluated in a societal, political, and cultural aspect. With that said, after peer reviews and a lookover from my professor, my next challenge was to focus on the literary value the poem contained, rather than just from an argumentative perspective to try and get the reader to understand and agree on my takeaways from the poem.
  • Part 2: The Revisional Process   The revisional process began with me taking critques from both my peers and my professor to make advances to a more perfected essay. My feedback led me to see that a literary analysis blending Angelou's personal history in combination with the narrator's tone and message would help to really deliver the different perspectives I was trying to highlight in my paper. Thus, I began digging deeper into Angelou's background as a child, as a teacher, and as a mentor. One of my peers commented that they had not read the poem prior to reading my essay, so this led me incorporate stanzas from the poem directly into my paper.
  • Part 3: The Final Product In my final revisional stage, mainly minor corrections, such as spelling and grammar usage, were adjusted and accounted for. My professor also led me to clear up some sections in my essay for clarity purposes. I focused on juxtapositioning Angelou's point of view with that of the speaker, and the usage of the speaker constantly referencing "you" as if speaking to directly to the reader.
  • The Aftermath: Comparing my first draft compared ot my final essay is drastically different. My paper developed from a dry, argumentative style paper to a compelling, literary work that I truly am proud of, and can only thank my peers and professor for. This project allowed me to grow as a writer and the takeaways I've learned are priceless. I've learned the value of literary works in a way I never would've been exposed to without this course. As someone who always strayed away from English courses, especially poetry, I was dreading having to evaluate a poem, let alone write an entire essay on it. But choosing a poem with such a compelling story, on the surface level and underneath through Mia Angelou's personal history, I really learned the value of literature and the clarity it can bring to so many readers. It was truly a growing experience for me as a student and as a person in general.



2. E-Poem and Camtasia Experience

For the E-Poem assignment using Camtasia, I had no idea what was in store for me. As someone with very little experience or patience when it comes to computers, I was not exactly eager to get started on this. This was assigned shortly after we had a snowstorm in Chapel Hill, so my plan was to find a short poem about winter, lace the words over some snowflakes and call it a day as I figured that would be all that I could handle. You can see from my tweet, I had every intension of this being my plan. perfect poem for a day like today #ilit

— Caroline Rodriguez (@carolinerod1124) January 19, 2016 

I had found a short video on Youtube, applied the text of the poem over the video, and tinkered with various features of Camtasia while working on my then e-poem. After working through the Camtasia tutorials and continuing trial-and-error style editing, I began to become more and more comfortable with using Camtasia and its many features. I was amazed at how technology and poetry could come together to create something so beautiful and composed, that I decided to abandon my elementary snowflake project and take on something a little bit bigger and brighter.

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

(Casual Chance, 1964)”
― Colette

        Not long after my decision to further explore Camtasia by restarting my e-poem, I found out I had just been accepted into my study abroad program for the upcoming school year. Travel has something I had always been passionate about, but never really had the chance to do. The poetry essay project had taught me how easy you could incorporate various aspects into a literary project, so I found myself looking for a poem that would relay to my viewers my feelings towards travel. I came across a poem entitled "Wanderlust," and immediately had my hands full. The process began with an initial planning stage, in which I decided how I wanted to split up the text visually on Camtasia. Then with each section of the poem, I began to visualize what came to mind when I read each part. This led me to link my personal visualizations with what I could find on Youtube which would encite the same type of idea to the viewer. Even though by this point  I was more familiar with Camtasia than I was at the beginning, I was still no professional, and by the end of my first draft there were various visual and timing mistakes that I would later aim to fix. For whatever reason, my video uploaded in black and white too, which was for sure not my intention. But by this point, I was just shocked I was able to produce a clip longer than 30 seconds.

Finally finished my epoem! shocked I was able to figure out Camtasia and create something cool :) #ilit

— Caroline Rodriguez (@carolinerod1124) February 18, 2015

After receiving constructive criticism from my peers, I began to work through the editing phase, all in all, I probably ended up with 10 different versions of my e-poem before creating something I was satisfied with. A lot of my feedback was centered around the speed of my poem, and throughout my editing, I made a point to make sure the reader had enough time to take everything in.

The use of visual imagry to literally bring the poem to life before my very eyes was something I became very proud of. The most difficult part for me throughout this stage was just aligning everything in a way that gave the viewer enough time to read the text and interpret the sounds and visuals to get the "big picture" of what I was trying to get across from my poem. I wanted my viewers to feel the rush you get when your sitting on a plane before it takes off, or the feeling you get experiencing new cultures and traditions.

Moving forward, I continued to make small adjustments that I  felt would improve my e-poem in a big way. I became determined to make it look professional, rather than someone who was new to the video-editing process. The following are the comments I posted for viewers for my next revision, so they had a note of what to look for adjustment-wise.


"Tried to slow down some of the text and remove watermarks. Also changed some of my clips and edited them so they're clearer. Changed font sized and bolded to make it easier to read. Really proud of this version, I think it's a lot better than the original!" - Sissy Rodriguez @ 3/29/16



The Final Copy...

At this point, I began to reach the end of my e-poem process. Minor edits were made between my last edit and the final, but I felt they were neccessary. I also found that Vimeo proved to be a better platform for my e-poem, with clearer resolution than Youtube provided. Through feedback, hard work, and endless edits on Camtasia, I finally saw my entire e-poem come together. The poem in combination with the visuals and the music brought the words to life right before my very eyes. I am still very blown away with how far the e-poem came from start to finish. I have learned to adapt to literary works in a new way and shed a new light onto the creative process. The digital age has allowed literary studies to take a new form never encountered prior to the last 1o years or so, and have allowed people like myself, who never really took an interest to these types of things, to become engulfed in the process and the various forms of literary art. I'm very satisfied and happy with my final project, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

my portfolio is slowly but surely coming together, this is the first time I've reviewed my first e-poem and my final back to back WOW! #ilit

— Caroline Rodriguez (@carolinerod1124) April 15, 2016

The Aftermath: From my first encounter with Camtasia to my final e-poem project, its truly night and day to me. I've begun to understand the reaches literary studies has in various forms. Technology and the digital age being such a huge part of 2016, literary studies has entered this era with force and has allowed simple words to be transformed in combination with videos, edits, sounds, and other features. The incorporation I was able to bring to "Wanderlust" through sounds and video clips brought an element to the poem that simply just reading it wouldn't permit. Through this process, I've also learned so much about what goes into the creative process.  The fact that I was able to go from words on a screen to a multidemensional literary work is conceptually amazing. 

E-Poem Walkthrough Video

  • The focus of my e-poem walkthrough video was to give the viewer a "behind-the-scenes" look on how my video came together, much like a video version of the process I've just described. The viewer firsthand sees the edits, transitions, changes, cuts, snips, additions, and all other tweaks I made throughout the process. I got the chance to show the viewer all the various materials that went into the project, and how much work really went into a one-minute long video. I really enjoy this video just as much as the final version itself because it shows how much work went it to this seemingly easy final e-poem. While the video was only over a minute long, hours of work went into the project. Click the link to view!

E-Poem Citation Video

  • During the creation of my e-poem, I used various clips and scenes from videos found on the internet. While I didn't experience this, many of my peers in this course experienced their e-poems taken down due to infringement. This prompted me to dig deep into the Fair Use Doctrine, a legal provision that allows limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. After finishing my e-poem, I went back and analyzed each of my sources, as you'll see in the video. Many of the sources promoted the use of sharing or using the content, as much of it was from "starving artists" eager to get their work seen. I think my e-poem did all of the various clips I used well, promoting them for their individual creativeness as well as blending them together for my own creative purpose. Click the link to view more!

3. "No Country For Old Men" ---> Book vs Film Review

In this assignment, I analyzed and compared "No Country For Old Men" in both the book and movie format. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed both. It was interesting to compare a linear, written format with the media version of the movie. It reminded me much of the porfolio video assignment, which you will see further below. The book version allowed for much more indepthness on the characters, as you could read their thoughts. The movie did an excellent job of portraying the character's inner thoughts via their actions and body language, however. Overall, this assignment taught me much more about the depths of different literary platforms, and how depending on the platform, different conclusions and culminations can be drawn. I found it interesting that the written version allowed for so much more angles, even though its the linear format. Cormac McCarthy’s beautiful and unique use of language and pacing made the book its own gripping little entity. When the book actually diverges from the movie it culminated their mental separation. Overall, I enjoyed both portions of "No Country For Old Men" each unique in their own way. View the link for further in depth analysis.

The Aftermath: NCFOM gave me new insight on contrasting different literary materials on the same topic to reach two different audiences. I think the movie greatly represented the book, and did the author justice. However, the book gives much deeper insight on the characters' minds. It was interesting to compare the different formats and the ways in which the authors portrayed the scenes, i.e., the way they played out in my head originally versus the big screen. The Coen brothers definitely had their work cut out for them transforming and altering this book to fit into a movie-based format, but much how like I brought my e-poem to life, I feel the Coen brothers accomplished their goal as well in bringing a literary form to a new level.

4. Thoughts on Watchmen

  For me, Watchmen was a lot of firsts. First comic book, first graphic  novel, and the first non non-fiction book I've read since probably the 10th grade. What captured me about the book was how adequetly Alan Moore captured human emotions in a novel supposedly about larger-than-life heroes. I found the book contained a lot more depth than I had initially expected, straying from the traditional super hero story line. The morals of the story was a lot more ambigious, and none of the characters were exactly role models, unlike Spiderman or Superman fashion. It's definitely a comic book aimed at an older audience, which to be honest I didn't even think this type of genre of literary works existed. I found that the book contained a great deal of symbolism and philisophical elements, that made it, in a way, more realistic than your traditional super hero story.

The Aftermath: Through reading Watchmen, I experienced more growth in my literary process. But, at this point was when I realized my growth was constantly influenced by the same several factors. Each project I've shown you thus far has been further extending my views on what is included in my personal definition of "literature." At the start of the semester, I simply would've told you books and poems make up the bulk of literature. While this may be somewhat true, Watchmen allowed me to reflect back on how all of the projects we've done in class have tested the typical definition of literature and allowed it to grow freely into something I would never initially recognize as literature. As a non-English major, I think I can speak on behalf of many of those who take this class simply to just fulfill a General Education requirement. Taking this class, I expected to just read literary works, write reviews, wash, rinse, repeat. However, after Watchmen I realized how much more profound literature can be, and how many new forms it has taken. Literature has grown on me, the same way literature itself has grown too.

5. My Portfolio Video

  My final portfolio video aims to wrap the semester together in terms of contrasting my first project, with my final project; evaluating it in terms of creativity. Poetry Essay v E-poem 1-on-1. The two projects both allowed me to grow as a writer and as a visualist. I found it very interesting to compare a linear-formatted paper with a multi-demensional video and see where the similarities lied in the two. I found through my study of evaluating the creative process in terms of both my projects that both followed a similar timeline and similar strategies on my behalf, with similar outcomes. Both began with a very rough first draft which allowed for open critiques from my peers and professor. Using the feedback I was able to push myself to take my projects to the next level, lengthening my creative process after I had initially began a general outline for each. I then went back to work and cleaned up the edges and made my final tweaks and touches to create two very different final projects with outcomes that I am both very proud of. Each literary work takes the viewer down a different rabbit hole, but my creative process allowed me take myself on a journey too, not really knowing where the project would end until I just simply knew it was perfected.






Final Thoughts

Overall, my work throughout English 150, Introduction to Literary Studies, has taught me as much about literature as it has about myself and my work ethic. I found new ways to create, new ways to learn, new ways to interperate, new ways to evaluate. These various aspects of this course have allowed me to grow as a student and as a person. The various assignments have allowed me to create nothing into something, via the use of various technological outlets. William Plomer, a famous novelist and poet, once said, "creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected." I feel as if this quote accurately portrays an overview of my experience. This course gave me the instruction to create various masterpieces, but allowed me the freedom of expression to make it my own. While each project had its individual challenges, strengths, downfalls, and highpoints, each assignment gave me the opportunity to grow as a literary artist. While I am happy with each literary work I have produced in this course, there is always room for improvement; as a student I find it is very important to acknowledge this. I have repeatedly used the feedback of my peers and my professor to expand my work into something greater, but at the end of the day, I've come a very long way from where I started in the fall of 2015. Overall, I have grown so much in the english department through the various assignments in so many ways. My poetry essay taught me to analyze through new lenses, my e-poem taught me how to create something out of nothing using various sources and outlets, NCFOM taught me how to compare and contrast two works of the same content, and my overall portfolio video taught me how to critique and evaluate my own works. This portfolio is the summary of my English 150 experience, and I couldn't be happier with my outcomes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.



I absolutely loved reading through your portfolio! Very impressive stuff.  I especially liked the addition of the gif!