This class has helped me grow not only as a writer but as a student and person in general. Through the variety of different assignments that I completed over the course of the year, I believe that I have met the learning outcomes outlined by the syllabus, which all have allowed me to improve my writing, visual thinking skills, and general analytical abilities. I think that this is important because these skills will be useful not only in the discipline of writing and literature but for many different fields of study.
By the end of the course, I felt as though I was able to comfortably compose texts using multiple mediums of communication. One of the most prominent examples of the acquisition of this learning outcome came from the Literacy Narrative project. Over the course of the assignment, I had to communicate the same idea in a written medium as well as a graphic medium. This forced me to think about how to use the affordances gained by each medium in the most effective way that I could. In the written text, it was much easier to communicate ideas with lots of description to try and paint a picture of the story that I was telling. For example, in the written narrative when describing my period of ‘binge reading’ I said that “Every day was filled with another unique world with a different adventure; all enclosed within the plastic laminated cover of each library book”. While it only took one sentence to describe that idea, I don’t think that I could effectively convey that image in my graphic narrative. However, I think that the graphic narrative allowed me to do things that I would have had a more difficult time trying to pull off in the written piece. I tried to create a coherent and logical flow between each panel, telling the story in a much more condensed setting. While it could be partly due to my novice drawing ability, I think that this method was better suited for telling the story through the lenses of only a couple of scenes. In contrast, I think that the written text was much more effective at showing the bigger picture, and how I progressed over the course of a longer period of my life.
In the process of creating the literacy narrative, I also had to the take comments and suggestions of my classmates and evaluate them to decide whether or not those changes would make my argument stronger. During the process of peer review during part two of the literacy narrative, several of my classmates thought that the comic was difficult to understand due to its lack of words. At this time, it barely had any words in it, but I only realized afterward that it was easy for me to understand because I had been working on it for the past few days. After their suggestions, I realized what they were talking about and decided to make changes to reflect that. I think that my final graphic literacy narrative is now much easier to follow because of those suggestions. This process also allowed me to practice going through the constant motion of drafting and revision, where I had to continually evaluate and look at my work through a critical view.
Being a class taught through the lenses of comics and graphic images, I think one of the most prominent learning outcomes that developed were my visual thinking skills. I think that I have developed my visual thinking skills over the course of this class, in which I learned how to clearly analyze and present visual information. This was demonstrated through a variety of assignments throughout the year. In the Tracing Maus assignment, I analyzed and annotated several images in pages from books one and two of Maus, presenting them in the frames of my arguments. My visual thinking skills were demonstrated as I was required to think about how Spiegelman presented his story, and the tools that he used to achieve that, with my focus on his use of different panel formats, the movement and the positioning of characters, and color contrast. Another assignment in which I demonstrated visual thinking abilities was Mapping Climate Changed. For this assignment, I first needed to examine the book to find intriguing visual patterns which I could investigate more on. I settled on the topic of images that spanned multiple pages, which I thought were significant pieces to the Squarzoni’s storytelling. I then had to arrange the texts in such a way to clearly display the pattern that I had seen and analyzed in that process.
Another way that I demonstrated the development of my visual thinking skills over the course of this class was through the Sunday Sketch assignments. Because the assignments were due throughout the entire semester, they allowed me to clearly see the ways in which I was growing, and how I was becoming more comfortable with expressing my ideas in different unorthodox ways. For example, the first Sunday Sketch assignment that I submitted was my avatar, which was simply a photo that was taken of me with my name inserted into the photo. While simplicity is not necessarily a bad thing, I think part of the reason I chose something so simple was that I was uncomfortable with using visual tools to express my ideas.
Several weeks later, having done multiple sketch assignments and larger projects, I was tasked with the triptych Sunday Sketch. I know that I would not have been comfortable or probably even able to complete that assignment without having the exposure and experience of working in the visual medium. While I don’t think that I am a very talented artist, I still think that piece was one of the strongest works that I have produced in this class by clearly showing that I could understand and use and manipulate visual tools to tell a story. The triptych depicted a slice of my life at college thus far and showed how I would sometimes get little to no sleep at all.
The first panel showed noises of construction going on outside my room, so I drew the noises as coming from outside of the panel as they came from outside my room. I also wanted to show the passage of time, so I drew times as they would appear on a digital alarm clock passing through each panel. At the time of that morning, I didn’t know exactly what times held what sounds, so the drawn times seem to pass through each panel until I clearly knew when a sound corresponded with a specific time—being my alarm sounding at nine o’clock. I think that this assignment, while a smaller piece in the grander scheme of the class, showed that I clearly had developed some visual thinking skills that I did not have coming into the class. Through other things among the Sunday sketches—and while also being a smaller yet important part of the class—I practiced good digital citizenship, employing technology appropriately and responsibly in my work. For example, this would sometimes come in the form of using images with a Creative Commons License and crediting the artists responsible for creating those images.
I think that there are many takeaways from this class that I can apply to many different things as I move forward in my life and academic career. I know that there still many things that I have worked on over the course of the year that I can still improve on. In my Stitches and Spinning comparison essay, I know that I need to improve the ways I present evidence to prove my claims. In the essay I presented an idea of the tension created between the authors writing their own personal narratives and writing narratives to create a political intervention: “In both of these works, while it may seem as though the main meaning of the books is a personal narrative that the authors use to discuss their trauma and their recovery from trauma, there is something deeper at play here”. While I discussed this tension, I skirted around how it actually pertained to my argument of how both books inherently were about political interventions, not truly incorporating it into my claims—which had the potential to make my argument much stronger. In the future, I plan to improve the clarity of the information that I incorporate into my writing as I apply it to different fields of studies. While I think I did that fairly well in the scope of the class, as information in other disciplines becomes increasingly complex I will need to adapt and change.