Read Texts closely and think critically
Characteristics of this ability include
•Recognition of generic moves in academic writing for improved reading comprehension (e.g. establishing focus, making a central claim, engaging with other critics, integrating and responding to quotations, considering other likely interpretations)
•Description of another writer’s project in a way s/he would recognize that also creates an opening for the student’s own claims.
•Drawing connections within and between texts
Throughout the course, we were required to read texts closely in order to think critically about them. Each book we read was often accompanied by a reading of some secondary criticism and thus we were required not only to recognize the generic moves of the author, including their claims but we also had to understand the generic moves of the secondary critic, i.e., what he/she was saying about the author’s claim and how the integrated evidence. One example of where this was utilized is in my Blog 10. Here, I had just finished the first draft of my final paper and had just received peer review feedback. I was working with Alice in Wonderland and not only did I have to read the texts carefully, but I needed to be able to engage with other critics while using them to build upon my claim and not merely analyzing theirs. This is something I struggled with in my midterm, where I focused too much on Jessica Straley’s claims about Willkie Collin’s Heart and Science.
In this course I also found myself having to draw connections between and within texts. This was, perhaps, one of the most utilized learning outcomes as nearly every blog post we wrote was drawing connections between or within the given text. We also frequently had to describe other writer’s projects in ways that they would understand. We had to read In the Blood, a modern adaptation of The Scarlet Letter and O’Gorman’s secondary critique of the play and then forward her analysis, which can be shown in blog 7. I found forwarding to be rather difficult; as you can see from my blog post, I initially struggled with situating myself as separate from the source I am forwarding. I was better able to forward Straley’s argument in my midterm:but I was not able to successfully provide my own stance. This is something I struggled with throughout the course, however, in my final, I attempted to emphasize my own claims.
Conduct research in literary and cultural studies
Characteristics of this objective include the ability to
•Work with primary and secondary texts, synthesizing others’ ideas with their own Midterm
•Find and explore archival materials when relevant
•Identify schools of literary and cultural criticism to generate research questions and to enhance understanding of secondary sources
•Use bibliographic tools to find source material, e.g., navigate the MLA database
•Evaluate sources e.g. for relevance, age, and prominence of venue
•Define and position own scholarly project within a critical conversation
In both the midterm and final we were required to work with primary and secondary sources and synthesize their ideas with our own. For the midterm, I chose to look at Wilkie Collin’s antivivisection novel, Heart of Science, utilizing Jessica Straley’s “Love and Vivisection: Wilkie Collin’s Experiment in Heart and Science.” In this essay I tried to forward her claims, synthesizing her argument regarding the use of antivivisection rhetoric and language within the novel. Another instance of this is in the final: and proposal. However, here I was not just synthesizing the idea of one secondary source, but rather upwards of five different sources. This was more challenging in that each of the sources said something slightly different, but I had to integrate them in a way which benefited my paper.
Because this objective is research-based, we were able to experience not just working with archival material but also with the MLA bibliography. We had some experience finding and exploring archival material, such as when the Maine Women’s Writers Collection came into class. Though I did not use this for a specific project, I was able to gain some experience working with primary and secondary materials that were tactile: BLOG 8.
I was also able to utilize the MLA bibliography as a means for finding sources for my final paper; this required searching different terms as it was difficult to find all the necessary sources using the same keywords. As it is important to use reliable sources, we had to evaluate sources for age, relevancy and of course, prominence of the journal. All the research that we conducted in class was either to write our midterm or our final, both of which required utilizing different sources and positioning my own scholarly project within an already established critical conversation.
Communicate effectively in oral and written modes
•Approach writing as a recursive process. Some markers include using
o informal writing to develop research questions,
o preparing proposals
o critiquing one’s own and other’s work (peer review)
o making substantive/global revisions
o making local revisions that enhance the clarity of one’s prose
•Presents research findings orally within the conventions of the discipline. Some markers of effective oral communication include
•Consideration of audience
o Attention to differences between oral and written presentations e.g. intonation, volume, emphasis, sentence length and complexity, use of voice markers and signposting, balance of academic and colloquial language
Another prominent part of the course was learning to approach writing as a recursive process. Though I am a writing tutor/fellow and this is something we work with students on, it is often difficult to practice what you preach, especially when it comes to your own work. However, this piece of the learning outcomes was applied frequently, especially for the final. The links show images of some of the notes and annotated essays which I took/read while doing research for my final: Even when I did not use sources, or only used pieces of them, I was having to take notes and highlight/markup the text in order to engage with it in an effective way. Another way in which this learning outcome was applied was with the multiple drafts. The difference between the first draft/outline and the final (or what I have of my final as of writing this post) shows some of the changes that are involved in the revision process. Most specifically, is the use of global revision as a frequently used revision tool as that is often one of my weaknesses. Not only was revision an individual process, but as demonstrated in this example of my peer review comments, it was also a group effort.
While the majority of our class was focused on the written portions of communication and the ways in which we can make strong arguments in writing, there was some oral communication which was completed at the end of the year. This work was done while presenting our final papers. This was slightly new to me as I have had minimal experience presenting my own work, and while I do not have the audio of my presentations, I would argue that I perhaps needed to read less directly from my paper and speak more casually. However, this was difficult for me to do as I do not enjoy presenting my work to people and thus have a hard time with intonation and volume, especially when trying to balance academic and colloquial language.