Reflection Letter

This website is an archive of the work that I created for English 101 with Professor Morgen during Spring 2018 at Emory University.

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By taking this course, I’ve faced various challenges that I was not even prepared for.  When I was looking through the Course Atlas I could not find any class that could interest me due to the fact, that I did not want to take just an ordinary writing class, I wanted something very interesting and creative. Because of my high school, when I hear about a writing class I imagine writing about some boring topics in a boring way. Therefore, when I saw this course and read the description I realized that this is the most interesting option for me. On the first day of our class, I was a little bit scared because I’ve never read any graphic novels before and I did not know what to expect. However, this class turned out to be the most creative and engaging class I’ve ever taken.

When I was thinking about this reflection letter, I did not know what I actually want to write and I realized that the best way to start is to look at the learning outcomes and to think of one project that is the best example to show that we learned a lot in this class. When I opened the list of the outcomes, which are rhetorical composition, critical thinking and reading resulting in writing, writing as process, digital citizenship/digital identity, and visual literacy, I realized that the first thing that came to my mind was my Literacy Narrative project. And when I realized it, I had the full picture in my head of everything that I want to say.

Literacy Narrative was the most personal and the most revised project for the majority of the class and especially for me. When I think about the reasons why this project is the best example to show the learning outcomes, I think about the fact that this project made us write an essay and then create a comic about our essay, in which our rhetorical composition skills helped us to translate the ideas and thoughts from alphanumeric language to the comic language. The second outcome, which is critical thinking, can be demonstrated by the fact that the first thing we needed to do for the essay is to think about how me became literate, about all the situations, people, factors, and details that somehow influenced and formed our reading and writing skills, and to create a story. As I wrote in my reflection, “My literacy narrative focuses on how I was growing up and loving (and at one point even hating) to read.” Therefore, I was thinking about my whole experience as a reader and writer to create this narrative. Another outcome, which is writing as process, can be demonstrated by the fact that we were constantly revising our work and making some changes, which made everything just improved drafts and never completed projects. Because the whole class is based on online sharing of the projects, this class was extremely helpful to learn how to present material not only to the professor but to the audience. And, finally, visual literacy, which is the understanding that by adding visual elements to the words, we can take the meaning to the new level and they help to make the story more complete.

Another part of the class that helped to become more creative and to express myself was the section of weekly sketch assignments. They were as creative as it was possible and I would never imagine myself doing things, like recreating a movie scene, telling a true story in comics, taking visual notes, and a lot of other interesting assignments that were making my weekends funny and interesting. In my opinion, this part should be in every class due to the fact that even the people who did not think that they can create something even close to normal, by the end of the semester were creating wonderful sketches without worrying about it.

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Also, as I mentioned above, realizing that I will be reading graphic novels for the whole semester at first scared me but now I realize that it was the best experience I’ve ever had with reading books. Whenever my friends were telling me about some graphic novels that they read, I was not taking them seriously and was associating them with just some light reading for kids. However, this class taught me that graphic novels are not only about the superheroes, they can be telling very important, difficult, and hard to absorb topic in an easier way so that we can read even during the times when we don’t feel like reading anything at all.

In this class, I learned how to closely examine pages and to find some hidden patterns that give the bigger picture to the whole topic. With the help of Tracing Maus, I realized that when you reproduce an existing comic page, you 1) understand how much is actually going on in each panel, 2) realize that the work of graphic novelists is underestimated and it actually takes too much effort to create even a page of comics.

After taking this class, my opinion about writing classes changed completely. I realized that it all depends on the professor, what you read, and how creative and engaging the class is for you. Therefore, if you have a wonderful and caring professor, a list of amazing books to read for the class, incredibly creative and engaging projects, then English will become your favorite class, even if you hated it in high school. Over the summer, I will look for more graphic novels to read and will write reviews about them for myself in order not to lose this ability due to the act that the skills that we learned in this class are highly beneficial for the use in other classes too, not only writing classes.  I am very happy that I had this unique opportunity to take this class and I hope my reflection letter was effective to express it.

Fidan Eynaliyeva

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