A Revealing Exploration of Subculture & Society

Oppression manifests in different ways, but often offers the opportunity for community to spawn. Counterculture movements are one such example of community that takes shape in response to the sometimes-oppressive beliefs and behaviors of “regular” society. The contemporary camping music festival community in the United States is a counterculture movement that offers commentary and perspective on American culture. Fueled by a love of art and music, this community welcomes rituals and rhetoric deemed socially unacceptable outside of the 3 to 4 day jamboree.

Like all counterculture movements, this community is unique to a particular place and time. The personality and behavior of the US camping festival subculture reflect and respond to aspects of American society. Evaluating it will illuminate uncommon perspectives, challenge the notion of acceptable, and help us understand the influences and consequences of society’s expectations in greater depth.

Final E-Portfolio

This felt like an art project. Though it took time, I loved putting together my writing in a way that feels cohesive, like a full picture of my experiences with writing up until this point. In creating the website, I felt that navigation was a huge part of what I thought about. I wanted to ensure that one thing logically transitioned to the next, just like in a paper.

The place that I ran into the most challenges was detailing my process writing the re-purposing paper. I had so many ideas that came and went, and in attempting to describe how it all happened, I felt at times that it sounded to convoluted. On the other hand, I most enjoyed putting together my final re-purposing piece. Adding the multi-modal element helped it all come together well, and because I knew exactly what I wanted to do, it was not too difficult to put together.

This semester, in practicing multi-modal writing, we have exercised artistic ability. I truly feel that my creative skills have grown, and plan to use multi-modal elements in the future in creative and research papers alike. I very much look forward to reading through everybody else’s E-Portfolios! Explore mine here: http://kjsmith190.wix.com/kaitlin-writing-blog

E-Portfolio Anticipation

It will be nice to compile all of the hard work we put into writing this semester into one entity- the EPortfolio. However, I truly think the part of this project I am most looking forward to is formatting. Finding the exact right color scheme and layout that pairs perfectly with themes of my writing and self will be an enjoyable project of self-discovery and hopefully will tie in the past, present, and future of my writing.

At one time, I had a tumblr blog that I used fairly regularly to post pictures, poems, quotes, and music that I liked. The page meant a lot to me because everything posted was uniquely related to me. It was personal, each item illustrating a different shade of who I was. I think of that blog similarly as I think of the Portfolio. I foresee arranging and rearranging the posts and format until it is something that is very much a reflection of me, which is exciting.



I suppose with such high expectations for the project, I am slightly worried that I will be stuck in a creative block and not be able to think of the perfect way to tie in everything. In the next few projects, I will keep in mind that there should be a theme throughout my writing and incorporate that into the direction of the pieces to make sure that I will have something to work with when beginning the EPortfolio. Can’t wait to start this project and get the creative juices flowing.

Searching for Unique Direction

Repurposing Proposal Update:

To reiterate, my goal for this project was to repurpose a music review that I wrote for a student-run music blog into an article discussing the changes in music distribution in the current digital age.
yay music
When starting to do research for this paper in class, I realized immediately that there have already been countless articles written so far about pretty much the exact same topic. Interviews in Time magazine addressing music’s new direction, articles in the NY Times about the history of music recordings…endless pieces all about the same topic. Refusing to become flustered, I soldiered on, writing the first paragraph and stating some vague thesis about how the music industry will never be the same. It took a day or two, and was catalyzed by Christian Parenti’s visit, but I have realized that the article I was beginning to write was 1. an extremely obvious and pretty irrefutable argument and 2. becoming a collection full of facts but lacking creative analysis.



I have never written a research paper in which I make a truly risky argument. Sure, I’ve exercised creativity in literary analysis papers about fiction novels and short stories. But research papers—never. I once wrote a paper about the impact of MLK on the Civil Rights Movement. Another, on the various theories about why we dream. None of the research papers I have written have really solid counterarguments that I was ready to refute. All of my arguments tend to be obvious and lack unique analysis. I want this article to be the first.
Now, I am going in the direction of: music reviews, though nice to read and write, are never right or wrong. Like all criticism of art, music reviews are full of opinion and ranking music on a scale of 1-5 stars is an insult to music, whose analysis is only ever purely subjective.
This might be the craziest work weekend of my entire college career, so luckily there need be only a first draft to come in the next few days. I’m very excited about this idea 🙂 It’s an argument that I truly believe in and look forward to finding evidence that I hope to analyze in a way that is unique!
Here’s the song that’s currently stuck in my head. I’d give it 5/5 stars, but that’s just my opinion.

Re-Purposing Idea

When originally beginning the conversation with my partner about the re-purposing project, I was unsure of which original document to use. I liked the idea of re-purposing entries from my dream journal, which is actually just a note in my iPhone in which I scribble parts of dreams that I occasionally remember. Sometimes they are arbitrary but other times they are interesting and seem symbolic to me. I considered turning these notes into a story, but am not confident that I would be able to think of a meaningful message or purpose and then tie it into the story in an obvious way. My partner and I also discussed the option of writing a paper about the personal significance of my dreams, but I would rather go into a direction that shifts the purpose and audience of the text more drastically. After talking it through, there was no mode of repurposing these dream notes that stood out to me.

I have decided to instead use a different original source- a music review that I wrote earlier this year for the music blog: 10 After- a branch of MUSIC Matters which is a student group I am a part of on campus. I wrote the review about a musical duo called “Oh Wonder,” whose music immediately struck me for its peaceful, electro-acoustic sound. It is a 500-word short descriptive essay about their music and what was known about them at the time. The essay was meant to compliment and promote their music more than it was to criticize.

While discussing ways to re-purpose this piece, there were many ideas that I was excited about. We again talked about transforming it into a personal piece about how music has affected my life, but after finishing the Why I Write piece, I’d like to try something different than personally reflective writing. We discussed creating a playlist, writing a song, or doing a close-reading of a particular song, but I would rather choose a medium through which I can communicate more ideas more efficiently. The idea that I liked best was to turn the review into a more research-based essay about how music impacts people scientifically and emotionally. This subject, however, is extremely broad, so I did some serious thinking as to how I could narrow it down into a more specific topic.

Currently, I plan to re-purpose the music review into an analysis of the ways that musicians rise to fame in modern times and how these methods have been changed by the growth of the Internet, social media, and music sharing websites in the 21st century. This plan is open to change, but this is the direction I am currently facing.

30 Minutes of Word-Searching

I am sitting here with my rose-flavored bubble tea in Sweetology (formerly Momo Tea), searching first for the examples of writing I see around me. There are:

  1. Stickers on the wall that say things like “Café” and “fresh breeze” that add to the homey ambiance of the shop.
  2. The menu, which describes all of the different milk teas, coffees, lemonades, smoothies, frozen teas, and desserts, all of which come in a variety of flavors and can be combined with a slew of fruit jellies or tapioca bubbles.

Next, I turn to my laptop and observe which applications are already open:

  1. iCalendar, which I use religiously. Color-coded by event-type (i.e. class, office hours, fun), it looks like a rainbow mess, but keeps my life in order.
  2. iChat- where I can communicate by text message with other iPhones. Open right now is a conversation with my brother about a painting I got him last year. Our conversations are always speckled with emojis and smiley faces when sometimes words aren’t enough to communicate playfulness J
  3. Writing 200 Syllabus- I like to keep all my syllabi on my desktop for easy access.
  4. iTunes- Earlier today I was updating my “Blue” playlist, which is home to my mellowest indie rock. Most of my playlists are named after colors that match the tone of the songs.

At this point I go to one of my favorite web applications, “Stumble Upon” which takes the user to lots of different interesting websites. This is the evolution of my stumbling:

  1. First, a website that describes “25 words you should know,” my favorite being, “Mamihlapinatapai- a look shared by two people, each wishing the other would initiate something they both desire but which neither wants to begin”
  2. A list of websites that allow for the legal downloading of a variety of eBooks (I bookmark this to check out later)
  3. A poem called “Welcome to Society” by Erin Hanson, which I interpret to be about the many contradictions society poses and the inescapability of them all: “We’ll tell you that you’re worthless/That you shouldn’t make a sound/And then cry with all the others/As you’re buried in the ground”
  4. A romantic but questionably newsworthy story about a man who proposes to his girlfriend by writing a children’s book about a gorilla and a giraffe who fall in love.
  5. A poster titled “the brain of a Serial Killer” which includes data and short facts about the patterns that emerge in the lives and brains of serial murderers. As it turns out, Jim Fallon, a neuroscientist who studied the brains of serial killers for years found that they often have a low orbital cortex, which is the part of the brain “believed to be involved with ethical behavior, moral decision making, and impulse control.” I find it interesting that there is a science behind all of our extreme emotions or lack thereof.

This exercise has brought me to think about the adaptability of writing and how it can be used in ways ranging from communicating what food is served at a particular restaurant to scientific journalism.

Blog Response 1: Connecting with George Orwell and Joan Didion

When looking at the “Why I Write” pieces, I read Orwell’s first, and his style and word choices stood out immediately. He uses so much eloquent vocabulary and sophistication that it seems the essay was written in a time when language was more complex and beautiful. He uses phrases like “outraging my true nature,” and “Good prose is like a windowpane” throughout the entire piece that make it sound like poetry. In addition to admiring his use of language, I also enjoyed his cynicism and self-deprecating tone. Though he may sound pessimistic, his criticism and classification of writers is ironic and relatable. At times I too like to admire my own work, enjoy the sounds of words, and use writing as a tool to understand more about the world, which are many of Orwell’s main arguments. Though I relate to some of his points, there are others I disagree with. For example, I do not identify with the sense of historical purpose that Orwell highlights. Perhaps this is because I have not yet developed many political loyalties, but it makes me wonder if I would be considered a good writer through Orwell’s eyes.

In contrast, I very much agree with Joan Didion’s entire piece. Didion, though inspired by Orwell’s “Why I Write,” took a very different approach. Her tone is less poetic and more conversational. Unlike Orwell, she speaks casually with the reader, a distinction that makes sense due to the fact it is an article rather than an essay. I was struck most by Didion’s explanation of how writing helps her think clearly: “Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” This part stood out to me as incredibly accurate. In my writing I feel that I can explain thoughts and feelings that are difficult to vocalize. I enjoy journaling when there is a lot on my mind, because when they are on paper, feelings are easier to define. I can write and then read over my thoughts, choosing which ones sound right.

While reading both Orwell and Didions’ pieces, I felt a sense of comfort knowing that I am by no means alone in my feelings toward and dependence on writing. As Orwell describes, a relationship with writing is a part of your identity, and as Didion explains, it is useful tool to sort out a jumbled mind. As I compose my own “Why I Write” piece, Orwell and Didion have helped me reflect on these aspects of my own relationship with writing.