Learning
 
 
 
 
Essay
   
(Spring)
 


This class has done a great deal to further me as a critical thinker and writer. While my writing has grown and changed as a product of what I’ve read and learned, a great deal of what I’ve gotten from this class has been in terms of mindset when approaching writing. While there are countless smaller specific ways in which my writing and I have grown, overall I think my analysis and writing has become more complete. I entered this class with a relatively solid ability to write and string together eloquent and salient points. What I was lacking were the proper surrounding factors.

Though I wrote a learning essay at the end of last quarter, I think that in the lens of this quarter, a lot of the work from last quarter has a greater and different meaning. Last quarter we focused on perspective in regards to whom the reader is and how they read, specifically how they read when they are looking at hypertext. This quarter I spent a great deal of time using the reverse of the knowledge. While looking at an end product, I was forced to think about what the author intended for the reader to see. While reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother I learned to think about what the point of the writing is. Our assignment was dependent on our ability to discern what Doctorow was intending to do, and as such, we were required to derive purpose of a man from the writing he put forth.

The first small assignment we did this quarter pushed me in a different direction than we had moved in the past. While our focus had been on writing hypertext essays, we began the second quarter with an assignment writing a comic, which forced me to think more creatively than I had the first quarter. It was especially challenging to think creatively about a topic that leant itself to analysis and debate rather than comic remixing. It was also good since I also explored levity as a tool, which I hadn’t really had a reason or provocation to use in the first quarter. The comic assignment was also useful moving forward since I was pushed to think about the areas of Little Brother, which can be made fun of, paralleled, parodied, or simply looked at more. Incidentally these areas are all ones that people chose as topics for their websites and/or their screenplays.

The website was not particularly different than the other websites we had done with a few key exceptions. First is that there was a great deal of choice available, which made me, think about what aspect of Little Brother I actually cared about. There are a number of areas in the book that I found interesting or provoking, but those areas didn’t necessarily qualify as things I actually cared about. I found it more difficult to make that sort of relatively small decision. Though this might simply be my own person indecisiveness showing through academia, I think that it is also that I don’t hold onto my own thoughts and opinions as I read. It simply requires me too take a second look in order for me to really consider myself in anything I read. The website was also backwards in a number of ways, mostly that we were researching topics that had already been presented to us in some way by Doctorow. This was interesting since it brought forth the idea that Doctorow could be, and probably is, wrong in some way, if not in many ways. While as an idea this isn’t groundbreaking, to actually choose a specific area and research it to find that Doctorow doesn’t agree with what you’ve found is a whole different thing and requires significantly more determination and belief in your own idea.

The screenplay definitely provoked a great deal of change in my thought process as well as my writing. My first attempts resulted in what was deemed a “story” and not a movie. As made clear by that accurate description, another skill I entered the class with was the ability to write a story, something I definitely enjoy. What I found is that this is not the same thing as “writing a movie.” Writing a screenplay to be more accurate requires a different sort of story in many ways, which is likely the reason many books change so much when translated into a screenplay. Even once the proper sort of story, or rather screenplay, emerged, the process of putting that into the format of a screenplay was more difficult than I had expected. I had a movie conceived in my mind, but a screenplay has a completely different look to it than a finished movie, and drawing the parallels between the screenplay and end product was critical to getting the correct ideas into a written format. Our screenplays all had an inherent connection to Little Brother, and by extension, some sort of meaning. This provoked what should have been a fairly obvious idea, that all movies have some sort of meaning. Regardless of the type of movie, there is more than simply is clear on the surface of it.

The machinima production was something I really enjoyed, and I hope to be able to do something similar to in the future. Though not necessarily using machinima, I definitely would be interested in more movie production since I really was able to make an idea come to life. In that regard a learned a great deal about editing, producing, and directing.

The last project was actually quite difficult for me, and required much more though than I had expected. The creative side of it gave me trouble, and though I knew what I wanted to do, I struggled with the specifics and a number of other things that continued to bug me. Ultimately I’m happy with the product, though I definitely wish I had more time on that project more than any we’ve done.

This quarter has given me a lot in terms of other skills from comics to screenplays to videos. These are all skills that I’m certain will be useful later in my time at college. With this in mind, I’m sure these things were not the most important things I learned. How I approach critical though in regard to a book or idea has changed as a result of the work I’ve done this quarter and last quarter, and that’s a skill that transfers to nearly everything I do in life, and will continue to be relevant as long as I allow myself to learn.