Hannah Rezzarday

Final Reflection Letter

Final reflection letter for my ENG 101 course: The Secret Language of Comics. Spring 2021.

When looking at the course atlas last year, I knew I had to take a first-year writing class. One would think that a person who intends to major in playwriting would love nothing more than spending a semester dedicated to writing. Still, intentionally I was nervous and hesitant about taking the first year writing course. Analytical writing has never been my strongest suit; while I passed both AP Language and AP Literature, I did not feel strongly for either class and got only a three on both exams. However, looking through the courses, I found one that struck a chord with me. There was one class listed for writing about comics. While I had never plunged too deep into the realm of comics, I knew that this class would be up my alley. What I didn't realize at the time, however, is how much I would truly learn from this course. 

One of the learning objectives was to compose texts in different styles and mediums. At my core, I have always been a very creative person; that's one reason I hated my writing classes in high school. The bounds set by standardized tests meant there was little room for expression, just cold hard analysis. In turn, this created a solid barrier in my mind between art and writing. I'm very thankful this class was able to show me differently. With comics being the focus of this course, there was a solid focus on both studying and creating visual pieces to go with the writing. I was often invested in the Sunday Sketches, especially the ones that focused on comic making.

At first, I had these assignments separate in my head from the rest of the class since they often didn’t line up with what we were discussing at the time, but upon reflection, I see now that these were not only showing us different ways to express creativity but also to strengthen our main work in the class by encouraging us to think more visually when it came to academic writing. Even just making these little doodles or scenes required students to think visually, which, in turn, bleeds over not just to the other assignments in this course but also beyond that. I find my theatre work easier now, thinking about how compositions affect auditions and block scenes better to get the effect I want.

This class also helped me to evaluate different styles of work to produce my arguments about a piece. In traditional novels, I was never the best at seeing the larger picture. My brain was so focused on sculpting the image in my mind I would ignore the more minor, more symbolic aspects of the piece. With comics, I found this to be different. When crafting such extensive work as a comic, you will never find more than what needs to be there. I would spend multiple minutes on each page just soaking up the details and marking little notes directly on the page where I saw fit. Being able to quickly flip through the pages and seeing certain patterns arise and, more importantly, when those patterns break. In Stitching Together the Pieces I pointed out the patterns in shading in both Stitches and Spinning pointing out with Stitches that "Small portrays himself standing in the corner, completely in shadow, while his mentor sits next to a lamp in the light", showing a break in Small's dark shading style. 

In the future when reading both visual and non-visual stories, I will be more vigilant in looking for these patterns and disruptions, and the meaning behind them.

An aspect of the class I also greatly enjoyed was learning proper online educate. More and more, our world is becoming increasingly digital, and as a whole, the education system does not provide much on how to write for the internet and even just how to behave. Coming in, I did not know much about copyright law, but through doing multiple Sunday Sketches that required us to find work within the Creative Commons, such as the very first one, where I used a rat photo that had long since fell into Public Domain. I will keep in mind these limits going into the rest of my online work. Our classes were enjoyable too, I don't think it was any secret to the class that I enjoyed talking. It was fun to share my ideas and theories with the class, even if everyone didn't agree with my ideas or my theories were proven wrong. It strengthened my analytical instincts, and in the future, I will engage in more in depth conversation about materials.   

The most important assignment I did this semester is the Literary Analysis assignments, which help me to truly understand writing as a process. When working on these essays, I have been taught in the past to adhere to the prompt as closely as possible. The writing I was taught in high school was very structured and sterile. I never felt like I was allowed to use my own voice in my writing. So when going about the first draft, I felt the need to cover all areas of the prompt within the word limit I was given. The prompt wanted my experience with both writing and reading, and while I had a story with my writing, I didn’t really have one for reading. The piece of my essay about my history with reading felt weird and shoehorned in, and I knew that turning it in, but I felt it needed to be done.I also originally had trouble writing for a new audience; the internet. Previously all my work had just been for whoever I was turning my work into, but now I had other people to keep in mind. My paragraphs were also way too short, almost as if it was a twitter thread, which didn’t help the already loose essay.

I then had to draw it as a comic, and due to the nature of comics, I had to cut a lot out and put more focus on what I thought was the core of my essay; how I learned to overcome my fear of writing. Drawing out my journey step by step really helped to clarify some things for me. Originally I had put way too much focus on my experience with writing at a young age and not so much how it affected me growing up. But when producing a four page comic about your entire life, you cannot get too deep into specifics. I had completely ignored almost half of my essay and added some new visual elements, such as this abstract black cat following me around. When going back and doing the essay again, I found that not only did it feel a lot better to write, it also held more focus. While I had to cut out entirely my history with reading, putting the attention towards this main idea created a much much coherent essay. Throughout these multiple drafts, I was able to make a piece I was truly happy with.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started