I’m Here

Hi Everyone!

I’m Shannon, a sad senior who is not ready to be in her last semester here at Michigan. But maybe I’ll be back. Here’s looking at you (grad school).

In my past three and a half years here, most of my writing has been research and/or academically focused. However, I have thrown in some creative writing and photography classes which offered totally new perspectives on this writing thing that I’ve been doing since grade school.

As an art history major, most if not all of my classes are reading and writing based and I’ve probably written more papers than I can remember. Like most of you, I’ve written research papers and argumentative papers and a number of other types of essays until my fingers cramped. One new type that was introduced to me through my major is visual analysis, where I have to write exactly what I see. This may sound pretty self-explanatory and simple but it’s been some of the most challenging essays I have ever taken on. But now, this is the writing that I know best and the community where I have the most experience. Because it is so familiar, I like the structure and the rules I have grown with. But I think I will be in an ongoing battle with Chicago citations until my dying day.

In my more creative classes and communities, I was initially very frightened by all of the freedom and lack of rules. It was definitely and adjustment to write poetry and fiction, but ultimately I’m glad I put myself through those stressful times. It brought me back to my earliest writing days where my sister and I would write and illustrate stories for our parents. My language changed and I could be more expressive than I was used to. And in the photography course I took, there was almost no text/print writing. Photographs took the place of words and sentences as we composed a number of photo essays throughout the semester. This was a totally new experience for me and I gained a new appreciation for photo journalists and professional photographers. It is infinitely harder than it looks (or looked, to me) and now I consider photography as a kind of writing.

In the capstone, I hope to be able to use all of the things I have learned and all of the styles I have been able to practice. I’ve never been able to combine them all in one essay or project and I’m not entirely sure how that would work. But I’m excited to keep an open-mind and see where this class takes me!

Shannon Vail

I am a senior Art History major who thoroughly enjoys cooking, traveling, beagles and Buffalo sports.

3 thoughts to “I’m Here”

  1. Hi Shannon,
    Unfortunately, I have only taken one art history class during my time at U of M. However, it was easily one of my favorite courses (19th Century French Art). I only had to write argumentative essays for this class – the visual analysis papers sound intimidating! I definitely empathize with the stress you felt due to the “lack of rules,” as I had difficulty generating ideas for papers in the open-ended Gateway course. Structure definitely helps me start writing, but a lack of it definitely promotes the development of my writing skills.

  2. Hey Shannon!
    I think that’s awesome that you got to experience writing in a completely different way through your photography class, where photography took the place of words. I definitely wish I would have taken a photography class but hope to do so later in life! I think that combining that aspect into your capstone project would be super cool and can’t wait to help you develop your project and support your ideas!

  3. Hi Shannon!
    I think it’s really cool that you have been able to take classes like visual analysis, where you can just write about what you see in a free way. I think I would benefit quite a bit from taking a class like that. I also think I would improve my writing skills if I took that leap of faith and took poetry and fiction classes like you said you have. In my freshman year writing course, I had to write a fictitious short story and it scared me so much. I have never gone back to read it because it was so awful. Going off that notion though, I hope to get over that fear at some point in the future, so if you have any tips, I’d like to hear them!

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