Professor Morgen noted on the first day of class that his intention was for everyone to come out of ENG 101-5 being able to quickly adapt to uncomfortable situations. Approaching each task and assignment as a challenge I knew I could adapt to was a game-changer that allowed me to successfully grasp the core competencies of this course.
While there are some aspects of rhetorical situations that I inherently already noted when writing, such as audience and purpose, it was helpful for me to be cognisant that these factors influenced my writing. In addition, I learned about other points to consider such as genre of my writing, larger context that my work responds to, and medium my writing is read in. While rhetorical situations was a facet that I constantly considered before writing in this class, it was an especially helpful tool for other writing.
Over the course of my biology class, I participated in discussion posts in which I had to respond to a prompt and to another student. One example was a discussion about Rosalind Franklin. She was a researcher that took pictures of DNA to deduce its demystifying structure. A scientist at Franklin’s institute gave two other scientists, James Watson & Francis Crick, one of her photos without Franklin’s consent. They then deduced the same model as Franklin and published their work before her. She never knew about the stolen work, did not receive the Nobel prize as Watson & Crick had, and died of cancer–likely because of the technique she used to take the pictures of DNA. It is a story that many students are familiar with. However, through research for the discussion post, I found that not only was her work plagiarized but she was frequently disrespected by her male peers. I found these testimonials and descriptions to be particularly upsetting and wanted to make a point about the poor perception of women in science. Unfortunately, my argument did not exactly respond to the prompt, where I was to describe “how Franklin’s work helped Watson and Crick discover the double helix structure, and whether [I thought] Franklin’s work warranted a Nobel Prize”. Given that it was a point I felt strongly about, I decided to sidetrack the instructions. I first did this by knowing my rhetorical audience. The people who would read and respond to my discussion post were other students. I knew that if I used relevant examples of instances in which women are not treated well, my peers would be interested. I discussed how this past summer, a male-led study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery was exposed for having searched women surgeons’ social media accounts and flagging content that included pictures of Halloween costumes and swimwear as inappropriate. To capture the interest of my professor, I referenced an interaction I had with a teacher in highschool who downplayed Franklin’s accomplishments. Set apart, it appears that I used my understanding of rhetorical audience as a manipulation tactic to have my discussion post be received well. This assumption would be false as I was not telling my readers what they wanted to hear, but rather utilized specific pieces of evidence to make an argument that I strongly believed in.
Critical analysis was another competency I developed this semester. One example was my group’s Temple Run podcast episode, in which we describe the setting and format of the game as evidence for our main argument: the simplistic game serves as a coping mechanism for people with anxiety. I enjoyed analyzing games this way because when I usually do critical analysis, I feel as if I am talking into a metaphysical void. However, by asking the questions “what do games teach us?” and “why would someone play this game?”, I was able to think about the gaming industry as a whole. Additionally, I found that the transition to incorporating critical thinking and reading to my writing was seamless. In my reflection for the comparative essay on Gris and Life is Strange, I noted that when I started writing the essay, “I felt that looking at these games in a critical lens was not entirely unfamiliar”. The class discussions, live blogging, and podcasts had prepared me for this moment. I think I appreciated our unique class structure because constantly writing essays usually takes a toll on me by the end of the semester. It was an interesting dichotomy because having not written critical essays in the class before, I was not fatigued by the daunting task, and yet still prepared to do critical analysis because of the previous assignments.
The writing process itself was also much more efficient. When I began the literary narrative, I was not staring at a blank computer for two hours before I decided to write down my name and the date. I used the prewriting exercise for this class. I wrote down ten memories, picked one, wrote down answers to brief twenty questions about the memory, and then connected what I had written to the larger prompt. I wrote in my reflection for this essay that “I particularly liked the listing out ten experiences, because I was able to connect two moments, one from when I was younger and one from when I was older that illustrated how my opinion on reading changed”. In the past when I had actually started to write personal essays, I went in anticipating to write about a specific experience and then would continuously scratch and substitute a new one. Writing is certainly experimental, but listing out the ten experiences all at once allowed me to instead see each possibility of my essay at once. In addition, the connecting two moments allowed me to develop one of the themes of my essay: when I was younger, reading was a distraction, but as I connected with the text on a deeper level, I found it was an experience on its own. When I had finished the essay, I liked the themes I chose to explore, but the structure and flow of the essay needed adjustments. I did not know how to make those changes, so at the advice of professor Morgen, I turned to the writing center. My mentor helped me craft effective transitions and noted that there was a place where I could connect my lack of interest in science fiction to my initial lack of interest in culturally sensitive novels. I felt quite empowered after this meeting because she talked to me about how she found my essay interesting and recommended some classes I should take at Emory. I was too focused on the faults of my writing that I had not realized that I was debilitating myself from expanding on my work. In the future, I definitely will reflect on the parts of my essay that are unique and fit well. When I approached my rewrite, I saw that the reason my essay did not flow was because I had not clearly evaluated the purpose and was exploring multiple themes. When I rewrote it, I wrote these ideas on the top of the page so that I would remember to incorporate them with each other. In my final draft, I think that I effectively found a way to connect my evolved relationship with reading to my identity pushing me to write deeper.
While I did grow on an individual level, I learned much about myself and my peers through the group projects. One example was the Twine game, in which we explored how different socioeconomic classes experience this pandemic. One discussion I explicitly remember my group having was about people we knew from our communities and for example, the struggle they faced with a dying business or the “struggle” they faced with adapting to Zoom. It was in fact our collective experiences that allowed us to weave in both intricate and plot-level details that I think made our prototype interesting. While our game was not anywhere near the finesse of an actual video game, I learned how valuable a diversity of perspectives is in creating a relatable and relevant product.
This was the first class I have ever taken where utilizing technology played such a central role, but I enjoyed it immensely. I found I was able to unleash a creative side of me. For instance, our very first side quest was to craft an avatar that we would use throughout this class. I was surprised at how easy the process of editing a picture using PixlR was. I also learned to take advantage of technology at my disposal through the visual note taking and assembly line side quests. While crafting these assignments was informative, I found that through the digital medium of a website, it was just as crucial to be mindful of the work I put on there such that anyone who searched up my name would possibly find this website.
ENG 101-5 was an incredibly interesting and unique class that taught me to explore critical analysis and writing in different mediums as well as to garner a larger appreciation for the gaming world, from the expertise of game designers to the purpose of games as an experience.