English 150 Portfolio Recap: A Crash Course in Creativity

      English 150 Portfolio Recap: A Crash Course in Creativity

Will Close

     What defines literature? Is literature limited to words on a page, bound together in a book? How can it be something different? How can we take literature beyond the written word?

     This was the purpose of our English 150 class this semester. We were challenged to look at literature in creative new ways. We learned to read differently, to discover the hidden potential in a poem or a story, and then tap it. We made multimedia presentations weaving video, sound, and poetry together to create something completely different, and through this we were able to explore our own creativity. The things I did in this class were things I had never done before with literature. Most people will close a book and put away once they’ve finished the last page, but what I practiced in this class taught me to take those words with me, breathe a new life into them, and create something completely unique.

     Our first assignment was to analyze a poem of our choosing and write an essay examining the meaning of the piece. The father of one of my closest friends is a poet and I wanted to look at one of his poems. This led me to Emma by Tom Feeny. Through this assignment I learned about examining literary elements critically, and stick with my convictions. While I was working on the paper I asked Tom what the meaning is behind the words, and I found out that his intention with the poem was completely different from what I got from it. Nonetheless I stayed the course with my analysis and was ultimately happy with my result.


First draft: http://teachmix.com/ilit/content/buying-happiness-will-close

Second draft: http://teachmix.com/ilit/content/revision

Final draft: http://teachmix.com/ilit/content/final-draft-poetry-essay

     Our E-poems were the creative meat and potatoes of this course. We had the ability to go in any direction we wanted, to let our creativity run wild. I wrote my own poem for this assignment because I just wanted to come up with something completely original. I really value this piece and think it is an incredibly good excercise for promoting self expression and creativity.




     We had the oppurtunity to go back after we'd created our E-poems and analyze our own work the same way we'd analyzed someone else's before. The walkthroughs were great because it made us ask ourselves why we made the choices we did in our E-poems, it made us more introspective as artists. When it came time to revise the E-poem, having done the walkthroughs made it much easier to see the true potential of our works.

     We spent time reading Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and the Coen Brothers' film adaptation of the novel. In our analysis of the film we were encouraged to avoid comparison between it and the novel. While this proved challenging, it taught me to treat each piece of literature (written or otherwise) as an independent piece without tying it to what may have come before it.  

     Watchmen was an interesting but fitting piece to use in this class. The graphic novel format fit well with our curriculum of working with different forms of literature. I'm personally a big fan of the graphic novel format and really enjoyed Watchmen.


     The peer interaction in this class added another layer to broaden our understanding of literature. We were able to comment on each other's works and collaborate to improve upon our pieces. By pulling the ideas of my classmates into my revisions and understanding of literature I greatly increased the breadth that my pieces covered.

@feeny_jared Reading poems by a modern great, Tom Feeny #ilit

— Will Close (@WillClose1) January 21, 2016

These e-poems are turning out great! Especially @bahahahannaha does a superb job of layering clips #ilit

— Will Close (@WillClose1) February 18, 2016

Good to be back in #ilit. Let's get to work!

— Will Close (@WillClose1) April 19, 2016





     The diversity among the assigments and material in English 150 helped created a deep, well-rounded understanding of literature and other forms of media related to literature. This course is a valuable asset to anyone serious about literature and finding knew ways to tap into their own creativity.