Friday, June 21, 2013

Oh, What I've Learned...

For the past two months, all of my school work has been focused literature and French as these were the two courses I was taking.  However, my learning in the past two months extends far past these two subjects, with them being great gateways into further and new found ideologies. Below are the learning outcomes I was expected to meet for my literary analysis class.

1.  Know basic literary terms and methods - Speaking of gateways, knowing literary terms and methods is THE gateway into formal literary analysis.  This does not go to say that without a knowledge of literary terms, one cannot have profound thoughts about literature, but a more accurate analysis is possible if you are aware of the techniques that authors use.  Starting this class, I was not familiar at all with basic literary terms, movements/eras, methods, etc.  I was able to recognize certain basic techniques, but would not have been able to put a name to them.  For example, I was able to recognize when authors spoke about historical pasts, but would never have thought of that as a literary method: allusion.  Authors speak about the past to show its relevance to what they are trying to say.  I think that it also acts as a way of connecting audiences who are aware of certain histories.  A term that I was aware of prior to the course is Tone.  I knew what it meant, but in exploring it on greater levels, I really started to understand it and the craftiness required by authors to create it.  I am now able to identify words, phrases, use of other literary techniques, etc. that are specifically used to create tone.  Tone does not always come naturally out of thought.  Diction is manipulated to establish certain tones. 

2.  Know basic literary genres and representative texts:  What I love about genre is its lack of a rule for what qualifies as genre.  Any two texts that have a similarity can form a new, very specific sub genre.  Genres act as a way of guiding people to works that they know they would enjoy or would like to explore further.  I wrote a post about a very specific sub genre that I named, "Krakauerism." The qualifications? Be a piece of literature written by Jon Krakauer.  Genre can be created on a very broad level, like Non-Fiction or poetry; it can be something a little more categorized, like epic poetry, or it can be created on something extremely specific, like Krakauerism, Head-over-heels-falling-in-love poetry

3.  Write literary arguments - The past three weeks have been devoted to writing a well thought out, researched, and agreeable/arguable literary argument through our final paper.  My topic originated in me writing my personal literary narrative and the comments that I received from others on it.  I can comfortably say that I am proud of my final product and of my topic choice, as I discuss here.  I feel that I created a literary claim that was both arguable by an educated audience as well as agreed with by an educated audience.  Prior attempts at literary arguments can be found here and here.

Let's Review the Writing Process

There was no specific prompt for this final paper, giving us students the freedom to create a topic on something that we have a passion for and enjoy discussing.  I found mine: intended effects vs. actual effects of love poetry on society and the modern mind.  The topic actually arose in writing my personal literary narrative where I discussed my love and infatuation with Francesco Petrarch.  In this situation, I chose my primary literary text first: Petrarch's Sonnet 3 and then thought about it enough to the point where there were enough points that I enjoyed thinking about. I took those points and joined them together to create a topic/argument. After taking my thoughts to the social media realm, I let it stew more and finally came up with this as my thesis:

 Standardized western beliefs of love, both unrealistic and realistic, are deeply rooted in both classical society and ours today.  What should be considered when reading all sub-genres of love poetry, is that the work is almost never eternally true. Love fluctuates, and our society should not be trained to accept romantic literature, movies, music, or romantic art in general as love’s definition because they are inaccurate depictions.

I knew that this thesis had enough fuel behind it where I would feel comfortable discussing it without feeling too repetitive or not having enough to say.  Even after the paper is completed and turned in, I have continued to discuss the topic with friends.  I have new points and ideas about the topic.  That's how I knew it was right for me: if I could always find something new to say about it.  Overall, I am really happy with the way it turned out and the direction that my argument turned.  If you're bored and want a quick read, here's the link to my final draft

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coming Out. (Not really.)

First of all: I'm SO GLAD that I dropped the writing class I was taking at the beginning of the term to take this one instead.  I think I've learned more from peer criticism and comments than I could have in the other class. Maybe not. But thank you--everyone--for whatever you've contributed to this class: it has contributed to my learning. 

1.  Literary Terms.  This was my weakest spot when I was evaluated mid-term.  Quite honestly, I feel like I had a bit of a downhill ride on improving for the second half of the term, because I'm already quite familiar with drama (The Human Fascination, Climbin' the Fourth Wall, and The Power of Sequence and Music) and non-fiction terminology.  It's poetry and fiction that I struggle with.  SO. Since then I've made a point of reviewing Craft & Voice's outlined terms, as well as the list that was given to us with our study sheet.  I have found that the more poetry and fiction literature that I read, the more connections I make to genre-specific terms. 

2.  Genres and Representative Texts.  I read plenty of non-fiction.  I'm always reading up on new discoveries in National Geographic, as well as replenishing my knowledge of things obscure and unimportant (to anyone but the author and me).  My Goodreads profile boasts mostly non-fiction works, but after this term I've added a Shakespearean play that I've never read before, A Midsummer's Night Dream, and so many poems that I can't count.  I've completely digested an anthology of poems I found in my grandma's old office, and loved every second of it--even when I was reading a poem I hated (the outdoorsy atmosphere might have helped).
 But I could at least recognize the meter, the rhyme-scheme, the application of devices, etc. I think I've found classic poetry to be more affable than I had assumed.  I'm definitely not done exploring the genres that have been presented in this class, and their more specific sub-genres.  

3. Writing Literary Arguments.  Ah!  The whole point of this class.  Learning how to write a literary argument...and be persuasive. Last term I did quite well with the personal creative analysis of a poem, but didn't do so hot with the analytical one.  Here's where I link to My Final Paper...and argue that I've learned a lot about the latter form of persuasive writing in the past few weeks.  I feel my argument used objective supporting evidence, as well as intelligent literary terms to validate my sub-theses.  And the cool thing: I didn't have to use a dictionary to make sure I implemented them properly.  I feel like I could use a lot of them in natural speech.  A triumph, to be sure.  The most important objective of this class (based on the course title), I feel, has been realized.  I'm comfortable writing making a literary argument: casual, or formal. 

4. Creatively and Socially Engage Literature. When I met with Dr. Burton to discuss my progress, he suggested that I +1 some more people on my posts, since I don't have any other social networking resources.  
So I did.  
A couple of success stories: My post, "The Allure of Travel Writing" jumped from 29 hits to 48, and my very personal but analytical "I Can Feel a Hot One" went from 54 hits to 109.  I've had friends call and text me, thanking me for sharing something so personal (because some of my closest friends had no idea that I was even remotely literate. Not kidding).  My friend Cub has since shared with me his own poetry, and a few people have found me on Goodreads because of it!  Way cool.  
I'm slowly remembering books I've read, and adding them to the virtual shelves.  It's definitely not going to stop after this class. Since I'm not going to school next term, I'm stoked to start on my list of must-reads, as suggested by newfound friends and longtime family members. 
The biggest takeaway I have from this class: the importance of process.  In sharing your ideas so that people can help build on them.  I've always been a single-channel student.  The ideas get developed in such a narrow space (my brain, and my brain only) that they have no room to expand and advance, then they get poorly represented in a night-before paper, and sent off to the professor.  In the future, I've vowed to do more idea-sharing. 

5.  New Media and Pedagogy.  As was already mentioned in my midterm post, I struggled with new media and applying advanced technology...but this class has forced me to be more comfortable with it.  And I am now!  I think, given more time in this class, I would probably get freaky-creative with formatting and whatnot, but with what time I've been given, I think the ideas of other students in the class--and browsing other blogs--is how I've come to establish my own style of presentation.  I like it.  But if ever I notice something cool in the way something else has been done, then I'll definitely try it out (e.g. Color choice, picture sequence, etc).  In comparison with my first post (cringe), I've come a long way in understanding how to direct a reader's attention, and keep things appealing for skimmers.  

In conclusion, thank you (if any of them read this) to all of the students in this class.  This has been an incredibly cool way to learn.  Blogging, commenting, sharing, etc.  Self-directed learning.  I've achieved my goal of expanding my appreciation for other genres, and not only have I done that, but I also have a genuine desire to keep reading them.  Something truthful and cheesy (Charly): I think what I've learned in this class will go much further than just a few weeks of summer 2013. 

Thanks, Dr. Burton. 

eight years later (how i met the outcomes)

I found that I had written 25 posts in the month since the midterm, which is not half bad, as far as production goes. I was happy with the trajectory I was on, and mostly wanted to focus on taking my thoughts deeper, as I am slightly manic and had to discard about three post ideas for every one I wrote. I began to focus on the themes of memory and the writings of Wallace Stegner, with lots of support in non-fiction. I served as a fearless team leader for non-fiction week, and those on my team seemed pleased with my input while contributing many valuable insights and readings of their own. (I would love to see a class at the university dedicated to reading travel writing!) I drafted a solid final paper as well as literary analysis. I am proud of what I have accomplished, considering that I had once fled the institution of BYU altogether.


In assigning a personal essay during non-fiction week, I certainly had to grapple with the terms. If I couldn't explain them, how could the class write them? I was pleased to see such an outpouring of creativity when it came to writing in a scriptural, speech, or travelogue style: these posts became among those with the most views! I was able to gather several terms relating to neuroscience from my personal reading, and building a quote bank helped me analyze Stegner's fiction. As a self-declared reference maven, I've been sounding the depths of literary terms and methods since January! (Seriously, the library's databases are so cool. Go on Simmons OneView's market research database right now. There are wayyyy more espresso drinkers in this country than Mormons, for starters.)


For #dramz week, I was able to delve deeper into a genre that is just plain fun. (I did become a dedicated Studio C fan: they use allusion, litote, and repetition, for the record.) I continued my Essayist of the Day series with William James. Considering this man's pedigree (he's the brother of Henry James, whom I cannot avoid in my personal reading, whether I want to or not), I was glad to have the grounding. It was pretty dense, even for me, but indirectly informed my thinking.


I saw the most productivity in this line, which is good, as that was my goal for the midterm: more in-depth analysis. I'm especially proud of the piece on Usher, the Shins, Diphthongs, and Hexameter. It got a good response, along the lines of "only Charly would have that take." The Shins alone are cryptic enough to produce three PhD dissertations. This was my most corpus-based analysis, and hit a lot of the literary terms, not for brownie points, but in strengthening the argument itself.

It was lovely being able to contrast the play version of Holiday, the movie The Philadelphia Story, and the textual version/movie of The Importance of Being Earnest. I'm an artsy person, but don't necessarily take the time to critically compare to this depth unless prompted. I think good reviews go beyond surface questions of "what happened" into the "why." I hope you, the reader, were convinced that Holiday is more like Earnest than Philadelphia Story is! (The conservative status quo vs. progressivism is an obsession of mine, later explored in our final John Donne exercise.)

I was able to put a "Mormon hat" on for Billy Loman and men's roles in society. Both Arthur Miller and Dieter Uchtdorf have this trope of "all the world's a stage" to draw from, which says something about its staying power.

In the fourth-most-popular post on the blog (haha, who am I kidding, it's because of the group assignment ;-)  ), I made an argument that we can use Saussure's ideas about the signified and the signifier to more productively analyze social networks. It was nice to use those PoMo muscles even though, to be frank, I am not really a fan and find the whole movement to be pretentious. A post-modern social construct, though, may need a post-modern toolbox.

Nearly all of my pre-writing for the Stegner paper was about staking claims and making arguments. (More information on how this paper came together can be seen in that post.) My mother always said that I was an argumentative person, so having this debate with myself was a natural outgrowth of my personality. From the pitch, to claiming a thesis, to engaging the counterargument, to seeking a good title, I honed my persuasive writing skills.

I like the flexibility of the English minor: between Persuasive Writing, Writing Fiction, and this course, I feel that I have become a stronger writer and have been able to fashion a minor that will serve me well in my professional writing career. Some of these pieces, like the one on Crossing to Safety, I'd be happy to expand to bona fide reviews.


I learned some good things about what to do and not do when engaging literature socially. (I am something of a nerd, and more learning in this sphere can't hurt, let's be honest.)

I got dragged to a dinner theater Sherlock Holmes production: analyzing it justified my dislike. I was able to get my writing group's friends' feedback by posting on a message board on which I am a very active poster. I value their opinion and incorporated it into my so-called "tweethis." I even made a Goodreads friend by looking for reviews of Crossing to Safety.

I do not consider myself to be a talented visual artist, but making a sketch of a Stegner quote gave me a structure with which to work.

The most serendipitous social encounter I had was with a poetry slam which I only considered because of classmate Hilary's paper on the subject. Unfortunately, I was thwarted when no poets showed up, but great art is worth going out of our way for.


Adding a Recent Comments widget should be worth at least a 2% grade boost, I'd estimate. :-) It made the daunting task of keeping up with the blog a lot more pleasant, and I hope it was useful to everyone else as it was to me. Further feedback from the class and writing group showed me which tools work for me and which don't. (Facebook: no one cares.)

In general, I felt that I was both learning and teaching. I am an experienced blogger, and was glad to help my classmates, and found the tools of blogging led me to get to know my classmates better than I usually would. I was an early adopter of Goodreads, but integrating it into coursework was really helpful, and got me thinking about genre. Although the class was exhausting, when reviewing it, I put a high percentage for "out of class time being useful to my learning."

In Conclusion

Thanks for going on this crazy journey with me, everyone. I'm not done reading, and I'm certainly not done writing seriously about literature. Follow me on Goodreads. Add me on Facebook. Email me. I'll be starting as a tech writer, but hope to move into reviewing and fiction writing, as well.

With that, I'm done. Enter to Learn. Go Forth to Serve. All that good cheesy stuff.

officially done!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

no agenda but to tell the truth: the story of my paper

Writing "Surmounted, Comprehended, Possessed" was a three-week project, serving as a capstone of sorts for my collegiate career.

One of my favorite aspects was the initial pitch. I was pleased that Dr. Burton found this framework to be useful enough to encourage everyone in the class to sell their story. My ideas were not yet in thesis form, but I was enthusiastic about the material, and I got a lot of feedback at this stage in the game from both classmates and writing friends.

Writing five types of claims was a good way to narrow my scope as well as broaden my interest (funny how that works, huh?). My final thesis finally made an appearance two weeks ago; if I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this:

Authors, by creating fictional worlds, rewrite our experience of real spaces: this act of (re-)creation mirrors the act of writing itself.

I was excited to use the lens of Wallace Stegner's writing to prove my point. I had been planning on saving Crossing to Safety for my plane ride to Madison (ten days!); but it didn't last the night. I borrowed the concept of the hungry reader for my paper from Larry Morgan.

Now came outlining and brainstorming time. I always make a quote bank, and defending why I care helped me defend not just the value of Recapitulation, but to flesh out my ideas on how reading physically changes the brain.

My central conceit came from making a sketch of Wallace Stegner's quote about Salt Lake City—just as Dr. Burton is somewhat obsessed with Moby-Dick, I find deep metaphorical meaning in the layout of my hometown—and the chief counterargument I had to address was found in my personal learning in "Does Great Literature Make Us Better?" This made my argument feel more timely and essential.

The turning point in actually drafting the paper came a week ago in searching for a good title. This gave me the three-part structure I was searching for (reader as observer, author as builder, literature changes us). I was able to quickly make notes from all this previously culled information. The central body of the paper came together well, and I used previously-written material in the introduction.

My spirit animal.
It was at this point that the social-learning component got serious. I had been getting comments from trusty members of Team Nonfiction throughout, and my writer friends were mostly interested in discussing the counterargument, so I had Hilary "Slam Poet" Packham read my draft in person. I am so glad I chose someone who could give me a fresh take on the essay: she was the single most-helpful critic, and I hope I was able to give her some Grammar Goddess (LOL) pointers of my own. She was articulate in telling me what was working, and what wasn't.

I also had my grandma read a hard copy. She can spot a dangling preposition like a hawk, having worked as a secretary for over fifty years. She was always able to tell me when I needed to clarify and put things in laywoman's terms, as she has little familiarity with either the author or neuroscience.

The least helpful aspect of my social learning was running it by my boyfriend. Not only did the "assignment" keep getting put off, I started to feel less like a girlfriend and more like a nag. His points were vague, far too late to be of any real use, and made me had a full-blown nervous breakdown. Having him critique my work made me feel like he was criticizing me, and clearly I am too deeply neurotic to take it. The only thing I got out of it was the moving of some paragraphs. In the future, I will definitely keep the romantic and professional spheres strictly separate!

Due to my own personal Charity "Where's Your Ambition, What Are You Doing in Life?!" Lang moment, the conclusion was hard-won, but I am satisfied with it, nonetheless. Here it is:

Through the unfolding sagas of Bruce Mason and Larry Morgan, we not only come to a greater understanding of their characters and of Wallace Stegner, we come to understand ourselves. Mirror neurons light up not just when we experience something, but when we imagine experiencing it. As adolescents and young adults, many readers have their first encounters with the powerful realities of sex, love, and death within the pages of a book. Both author and reader can experience catharsis through edification and consumption.Though reading may not be inherently virtuous or character-building, it does, biologically, demand sustained attention, imagination, and critical thinking. That legere—the sifting, choosing, collecting, judging—is ultimately up to us. As readers surmounting the great bowl valley of life, would we ultimately have it any other way?

it's the final countdown

In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep/ I write conclusions, and MLA bibliographies

Obstacles were surmounted. Ideas were comprehended. Hearts were possessed.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Yo, Adrian, we did it. We did it."

This paper has sucked me dry.  Probably because I actually cared for the subject: The Bible as literature.  And I knew there were a lot of people riding (in a bad sense) my ideas.  

It started with my focus: A Raw Thesis! And then grew into a more solid idea: Claiming a Thesis!

From there it actually got muckier...rather than more clear.  Gathering ideas from outside sources via "The Tweethis Experience" made me think harder and dig deeper for more evidence and support for my claim.  

Charly's feedback was, as usual, helpful in sorting out so many ideas and opinions, and I appropriated the progression of my paper up to that point in finally Choosing a Claim to her. When we were asked to try something new to develop our argument, I thought I'd give Schizophrenia a whirl in order to discuss why I wanted to hound the subject I was hounding...with myself. Discussing Genre was the most helpful exercise I could have done.  It helped me solidify the bulk of my argument.  

I, Jamie Clegg, WROTE AN OUTLINE. 'Twas quite helpful.  'Nough said. 

From there I cranked out a few pages of nothing, really.  My First Draft.  And because I was so short on goods, I decided to explore the library.  I Discovered New Material For My Argument, and finally cranked out a FINAL DRAFT...Draft, but.  

Thanks to our peer reviews (Andrew Alston, you're a saint), I have made enormous revisions, and feel more comfortable with the final product.  I distributed it to trusted friends and family, and appreciated all of their honest and straightforward criticism. With everyone's help and ideas, here, tonight, debuts My Final Paper: Teaching the Bible as Literature.  

Yo, guys, we did it. We did it.