Uncovering Original Thoughts
Uncovering Original Thoughts
Lauren Farrington's Engl 150 Portfolio
For me, Spring semester 2016 was a time to figure things out. As a sophomore, I was expected to declare a major, and I had. Fall semester I was a communications major, and spring semester I was an English and graphic design double major. However, I still felt like there was more to "figure out." Honestly, I haven't figured out much, and I'm beginning to realize I may never figure out everything for my future. Yet I did figure out two things:
1. I don't want to work in graphic design.
2. I love English.
Here is a quote I love by Roald Dahl:
I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do.
It was my need for original thinking that led me to the obsession of figuring things out, as I wanted to know the course for me specifically to take. Engl 150, especially the projects, helped me realize that it's not important to figure out every thing right away, but rather it's important to "uncover" new processes, techniques, and thoughts as I go along. Inspiration is more likely to hit when I'm in the thick of a project, rather than when I'm in the planning stages. Through this portfolio, I will use my Poetry Essay, E-Poetry, Film Review, thoughts on Watchmen, and Portfolio Video to reveal how intentions do not equal outcomes, and most of the time, that's the best way to uncover original thoughts.
Our first project, the poetry essay, reminded me how much I love analyzing work. I love finding deeper meanings, connecting them to myself, and uncovering an original thought to write in an essay. I wrote my poetry essay on Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Honestly, I picked a random poem I found after typing "poem about identity" into Google. However, I loved it immediately. To begin writing my essay, I asked myself: "Why do you like this poem?" And I realized I was connecting to it. I connected with the sense of childhood nostalgia that the surface presented me. So, I decided to look into Nye's life and childhood to frame the work of my essay.
Naomi Shihab Nye's "Making a Fist" captures universal nostalgia. In context, is it nostalgia for her ancestors' Arab culture? #ilit
— Lauren Farrington (@laur_wren04) January 28, 2016
Through this lens, the poem wasn't about childhood nostalgia. Instead, it became an analogy for Nye's Arab-American changing culture. This route for my essay was unexpected, but I enjoyed researching and finding sources to help me better understand Nye's point of view. My notes show the planning of insights, structure, and integration of sources:
hyperlink to: Poetry Essay Draft
I felt good about my draft. It had my own thoughts and ideas mixed with support from biographies about Nye and other sources. However, Professor Anderson and my peers pointed out some copywriting needs:
Professor Anderson also pushed me to dig just a little deeper into my core theme and title. Thus my essay changed from "Don't Call it a Comeback" to "Preserving Internal Culture to Address External Conflict." The constructive criticism allowed me to create a product I was even more proud of. Integrating other directions into my poetry essay, showed me that it is best to be flexible, while holding onto my writing style.
hyperlinks to: Poetry Essay Revisions
The poetry essay was my first interaction in this class with finding my original insights and ideas throughout my project, rather than in the planning stages, as my planning notes are so different from the outcome of my essay! It got me thinking about poetry in new ways:
Interesting--a poem gains so much meaning once you read it aloud. Wondering if every poem is this way or if sound is vital to poetry. #ilit
— Lauren Farrington (@laur_wren04) January 28, 2016
It also was the first time my peers and I exchanged constructive criticism.
We helped made connections with each other that made us comfortable to exchange criticism in the future, ultimately strengthening all of our work.
Our second project was the E-Potry unit. I loved E-poetry! It further helped me learn how to be flexible during a project, incorporating new insights as the project progresses. I honestly enjoyed the multiple revisions of the e-poems and poetry essays, because it allowed me to uncover new thoughts towards the work and also discover new techniques.
I decided to work with the same poem, Making a Fist, for my E-Poem. I wanted to work with my original idea of childhood nostalgia. This further led me to using Nye's poem as a conduit for thinking about child agency and importance.
I'm used to working with Adobe Premiere Pro, as I had a media production concentration under my communications major. However, Camtasia is easy to use, and it's function proved better suited to e-poems-- not movies, but visual aids to the text of the poem. My e-poem turned into a storyline, even though i intended it to be more abstract. Yet I'm glad my intentions didn't work out, because I ended up loving the way my e-poem unfolded.
It's hard to find exactly what you want for e-poems, and sometimes you have to take different directions. It works out though. #ilit
— Lauren Farrington (@laur_wren04) February 15, 2016
hyperlinks to: E-Poem Draft
These were my favorite editing tactics:
I decided to have my e-poem truly slow-paced in the past tense, and a bit faster in the present to further create a sense of difference between the two and strengthen the past's imagery.
2. Using Text as Imagery
I loved being able to use the imagery of the poem, and move the physical text around to mirror this imagery. It was a great way for me to think about physical text as individual letters--objects--rather than words.
After I made final, minor revisions that perfected the pace of the music to the images, I was proud of it.
I also enjoyed creating the e-poem citation video, as it allowed me to think about why i used the materials I did. I thought about the personal connections I had to the materials, leading even to some moments of self-discovery concerning my thought processes.
hyperlink to: E-poem Citation Video
I even created a script, because I had so much to say about why I used each piece and what each piece meant to me, as seen through this extract here:
Of course, I didn't end up saying exactly what I wrote, as I continued my theme of being flexible and uncovering insights along the way. All of a sudden, though, I realized how important it was for me to understand why I use certain materials, and also how an explanation behind the use of a material can aid viewers in "reading" my e-poem.
Our third project was a comparison of the book No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy with the film No Country for Old Men directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. I already loved the Coen brothers coming into this project. I've watched a few of their movies, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? was my favorite movie in high school. Also, my brother has been trying to convince me to watch No Country for Old Men for years, since I like Western movies and the Coens. However, I knew it was violent and always put it off. I'm so glad that I was forced to watch it in this class! I loved it. I also enjoyed McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, so comparing the two was very interesting to me.
I've always been someone who says "the book is better than the movie," although I really love and appreciate movies. However, this class made me look at film adaptations differently. I'm glad we watched the movie before we read the book, as I think this broke down any partiality I would've had initially in the book's favor. Watching before reading gave me a more unbiased view, and I concluded that one medium was not "better" than the other. Both mediums were able to highlight and enhance different aspects of the storyline, due to their innate qualities. I'm going to have a new outlook towards film adaptations after this project.
Like my other projects, the film review didn't turn out as I intended:
about halfway through my film review, and I think it's turning into more of a research paper on the screen...hmm. #ilit
— Lauren Farrington (@laur_wren04) April 20, 2016
I hoped for a less scholarly, essay-like video and more of a simple comparison of the two. Ultimately, mine ended up comparing the two with evidence and seemed more like an essay then I had hoped. Still, though, the process of my film review showcases that planning and outcome don't always align.
I've always thought that comics were cool--from a distance. I've never read one, so I had no idea what to expect from Watchmen. I knew it would be different from reading a book, but I didn't know how different. What struck me the most were the pages with no text whatsoever. These pages use a set of side-by-side pictures, that when linked together, present a story.
It was a completely different experience of "reading" for me, and I truly enjoyed it! Coming from a graphic design background, I cannot imagine how much time and talent went into crafting each frame and then ensuring the next frame is symbiotic with the one before. The craftsmanship blew me away, and it made me realize that comics are as valauble as novels or films. Comics simply offer a different way of interacting with literature: the pictures enhanced my own interaction with the text, as I had to interpret the pictures to solidify the story in my mind.
Creating my portfolio video aided in creating the concept of my portfolio. It made me think about what my central challenges and successes were in the poetry unit, and how those challanges and successes also manifested themselves in my other projects. So that's how I landed on the theme "uncovering original thought." Comparing the two mediums of print and video, made me realize how greatly the e-poem forced me to think about text in a new light. As I said in my portfolio video, I would never had considered a video as "text" before this class--now I do. "Reading" a video can be just as insighful as reading an essay, it's simply in a different format.