TERMS + METHODS
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.)
GENRES + TEXTS
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.
CR8IV + SOCIAL
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.
TOOLS + PEDAGOGY
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."
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.