Decision Time

Now that experiment time has come to an end, I have chosen my first experiment as my fully realized piece. It took me a while to decide if I wanted to do experiment 1 (photo essay on the history of tanks) or 3 (research paper on PTSD/veterans.) However, I was drawn more to the first experiment because I am very interested on how war has evolved due to innovation. I believe tanks were the biggest innovation the war field has ever seen up until nuclear weapons. Even after the introduction of nuclear weapons, tanks still have a very practical use in warfare and have evolved far past the origination.

I also embarked on the route out photo essay for a few reasons. First being it is still an essay. Therefore you can still have plenty of relevant information for your audience to learn from. But also, because the inclusion of photos can help the audience with visual aids. Such as, when I include a photo of the first ever tank and later some of the newest models of tanks we have. Using pictures will allow me to describe them easier because thy also have pictures to look at. Unlike if photos were not included, my piece could end up being dull and boring rather than informative and interesting.

I find this piece intriguing because of the time range captured, the interesting statistics that will be uncovered, and what is happening now. My plan for statistics is to show an astounding difference on the battlefield from pre tank era to post tank era. I believe this will show a dramatic change in certain aspects of war. Using the time range from before World War 1 to post World War 1 and way beyond, I believe my audience will find the rapid innovation on the battlefront very intriguing.


Fully-Realized Experiment Rationale

For my fully-realized experiment, I am choosing to continue working on the personal essay I proposed in experiment three. This essay is centered around experiences with my chronic illness, which I would hope to connect to large problems in the healthcare industry and social issues of how poorly we treat dis/differently-abled people. I am writing a piece exploring living with a chronic illness and chronic pain as a person with a chronic illness and pain. I want to share this experience with my audience because it is really stigmatized and invisible in mainstream conversations. Hopefully, this piece will have a broad audience, but I hope to speak directly to young women in order to make them aware of this illness as it takes an average of seven years to receive diagnosis and affects more than ten percent of all women. I want to write about this both to spread awareness about it and to share a story that makes structural critiques of the healthcare system in the United States. Today, the Trump Administration announced plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which insured millions and made it illegal to deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, by instructing the Department of Justice to stop defending it in court. This may affect how the reception of my piece because so many people will be affected by the destruction of the ACA, especially as what I am talking about means insurance companies could deny me coverage for me so-called pre-existing condition.

This experiment spoke to me more than others because it allows me to express thoughts and pressing concerns that have been swimming in my head for a long time. It also allows me to reflect on my experiences as part of a larger system, which may be helpful in understanding and processing them. I am excited to work on it because I can challenge all the rage and resentment I have towards my chronic illness and the healthcare industry in a (hopefully!) productive way. This genre lends itself to my purpose because it allows me to demonstrate the importance of this issue by showing how it has deeply impacted me. I think this essay could be published in many venues, but I think it would work particularly well on Bustle, which is an online publication dedicated to women’s issues and focused on young women as an audience.

Fully-Realized Experiment Rationale

My origin piece for this class was a cultural commentary essay about apocalyptic films and the need to change their narrative from the apocalypse already happening (and then trying to fix the disaster) to preventing the disaster from happening in the first place. I claimed that this new type of storytelling might increase some hope or show that we can still have some positive impact on our future. For my fully realized experiment I will turn this essay into a Power Point presentation. Since my topic is about movies I think bringing in visuals will help to articulate my argument. I can actually use stills from the movies I analyze rather than simply try to describe them with my words. I can also show the historic trend in one slide (or back to back slides) rather than across a few pages. 

I do try to avoid doing in class presentations so this experiment will be a good to practice this underdeveloped skill and really think about what is the most effective way to share information with a theoretically large group of people. I won’t do a full presentation but I will write a script to go with my Power Point to plan out how it might go in front of a group. I want to keep some of the personal narrative elements in my origin piece so I could include those sections in the script rather than the presentation itself. I also might have to re-order or restructure my origin piece since I didn’t write based on chronological time. For a Power Point presentation, chronology rather than theme could be easier to follow. I imagine that this fully realized experiment will mimic the presentations at TedTalk conferences since their speakers can be informal, casual, and personal even if they are talking about fact-based information.

Final Experiment! The Choosening

The experiment I’m choosing to continue with for my final piece is my second experiment: a zine about non-human women in the original run of The Twilight Zone. Since high school I’ve loved zines as a medium over pretty much everything else! I love the different kinds of subject matter they can tackle, the diy feel of them, just how special they feel as a medium. I also really love The Twilight Zone; even as the granddaddy of modern sci-fi/horror genres and tropes, there are still elements of its storytelling that feel fresh and innovative. But, at the same time, I want to critique, or at the very least try to understand, how it treats its female characters, specifically the ones that are explicitly not human or “Living” by traditional standards. I want to know how these women are used to explore human consciousness, and what it says about the contemporary roles and attitudes for women this humanity is drawn upon. I think this genre is perfect for the kinds of critiques/associations I want to make for a few reasons:

  1. Zines and fanzines have been famously used by fans of science fiction and riot grrl 3rd wave feminism to create radical content that wouldn’t necessarily be featured in a mainstream publication, and
  2. It allows me to relate to the pieces in a way that’s much more organic to me than simply writing an essay or structuring a comic book.

Figuring out a venue of publication is tricky for zinesters, since many zines are self-published and circulated. However, there are a few semi-major publications that put out zines, such as Silver Sprocket, that I could send my materials for publication to and plenty of local comic book stores (Vault of Midnight! Green Brain! Prolly not Big Ben!) that would pick up circulation of my zine.

The Experiment Bracket Selection: Writing 220 Edition

The Rhetorical Situation
As a current student and arduous Michigan Athletics fan, I am going to embark on a fully-realized version of my Experiment #2: a sports journalism piece. Specifically, sports reporting to recap the March Madness game against Texas Tech this Thursday.
Disclaimer: if we win, I will likely report on our performance in the Elite Eight versus the highly anticipated Gonzaga Bulldogs. This is to accommodate a more relaxed timeline.
I am writing to an audience with a vested interest in the Michigan game that seeks to read further in depth about what they missed, or simply a different lens on the game that they watched. The end goal is to present a sharp recap of the game, while subtly weaving in opinionated statements to stand out from other reporting articles. If this were to make it in the Michigan Daily, then my base audience will likely consist of Michigan students and grads.
I want to write this for the challenge and the relevance. Although I find sports writing exciting, I also know the level of jargon and in-depth understanding that it demands. While I have been able to keep up in the context of Michigan Athletics on Twitter, article writing is a whole other playing field (pun intended). I am also excited by the relevance of the piece; March Madness is the one time of year when stakes are the highest and audience is the biggest. If I were to ever embark on a sports writing piece, now is arguably the best time of year.

Why I Believe in This Experiment
I believe
I believe that
I believe that this experiment is best suited for my interests over the others for several reasons. Firstly, I enjoyed writing the genre analysis more than any others, and will thus find maximized motivation to perfect my fully-realized experiment. But more importantly, I think it is feasible. I have had practice writing articles all semester long for my columnist position in the Daily, and have read sports journalism articles all season long. It will be challenging and will demand several rounds of editing, but when completed, it will feel nothing short of rewarding. This is in part because it can stand alone; by this I mean while a food blog post demands multiple in order to establish a food blog, an article can stand by itself.

The Venue
As aforementioned, I would attempt to publish my piece in the Michigan Daily. It is open to student contributors, has an established sports reporting sector, and has a relatively smooth and quick publishing process!

Until then, Happy March and may the best bracket win. #goblue

Reflection 3

I liked drafting and researching my photo journal because it was very different from the other two genres I selected.  Here I had to pay a lot of attention to the moment and political ideals that the images captured in the photos because this was the only way I could communicate to my audience.  I think that if this piece was fully realized I would make it into some type of website so I could make it more interactive by allowing the user to click on different pictures and it would be more engaging. To do this, I would publish it on google sheets to avoid any technical complications I could have (I wouldn’t have to code the website, I have experience making websites with this before and it’s very simple).  My origin piece was very rooted in history, however, this piece is focused on the present and the last section of my sketch draft mentioned the future of the conflict and if it is realistic that it will end anytime soon. It was not so much my origin piece that this stage was based off of, but a film we watched in the class about the state of the region and what it is life to grow up there. When I saw that film I realized that there are so many things different in Israel/Palestine than in the US.  The climate, landscape, language, food, people, etc. are all different and this is also something that Americans should note. It is not just a war torn nation, it also has a cultural value that is much different than what it is like in the United States. The film I watched was based about the life of children and very similar to what my last piece, the story book, was about. I think that contrasting narratives, one Israeli child and one Palestinian child are very powerful as it shows that the children involved in this conflict are innocent but taught hatred from their parents and rest of society. The photos can illustrate some of this with the destruction and war like nature of the entire state.  I think the audience will understand that this is a really scary and unpredictable way to live. I selected the gray background for the photos because I based it off of one of the photo journals I used for my research. I think this was effective in making the photos stick out and draw attention to them. I thought putting them in a square was an interesting way to concentrate all the space to the center and the audience can see how all the pictures interact and represent the nation. This was a good project to show me that a lot can be said without words and that can be used for other projects going forward. It would be interesting to incorporate photos into other essays that may not rely on pictures as an added aid for the audience.  This was one of the more creative projects I have done.

Experiment 3 Reflection

This experiment made me realize how hard it is to write horror! As much as people like to complain about the triteness of the horror genre, crafting a story that thrills as much as it compels is as much a Herculean task as any other type of more “acceptable” genre fiction. To make this piece feel more like the other comics I picked for my mentor pieces, I would need to do more brainstorming on what exactly bothers me about objectification and what scares me about what attitudes and structures it feeds into. When I began diving into that itself more is where I believe I started getting into the meat of what this story could focus on, if I dove more into those feelings over storytelling beats I think I could find a theme that I could build a story around. If I had focused a little more on those foundations in the sketch draft over trying to figure out characters and plot right away, I would be more satisfied with what I have.

That being said, I had to think really hard about making work about womanhood in the horror genre, which is supersaturated with completely outdated notions of femininity and the place of a woman within the genre. Women are certainly central characters in many a slasher flick and Creepshow comic, but their fates are usually determined by whether or not they’ve had sex in the last 80 minutes of the movie (if you’re a final girl or the one who goes first). Plenty of pulpy horror comics are populated with, intentionally or not, women who act as overzealous stereotypes of ye olde “nasty woman”: the incredibly beautiful yet totally vain, unfaithful, and greedy ex wife who get what’s coming to her, the naggy wife who drives her man away, and on and on until the end of time. While I feel like the comics I picked worked actively against those stereotypes of women in the horror genre, it didn’t change the fact that even most of the stories I picked were written about women by men (I was especially thinking of movies like “It Follows” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, both horror movies that can be read as critical of society’s ownership of women’s bodies/sexualities, both written and directed by men). As much as I love horror, I was really worried about falling into these genre conventions in trying to write a story of my own. I also wish I had done more work with the pieces I picked that were written by women, taking inspiration in the ways they specifically apply themes of objectification to the horror genre.

I’ve also been wondering if it would be a smart idea to make a horror comic that more closely resembles my origin piece or if it built more solidly off of my previous experiments. I remember some parts of my first experiment were focused on what specifically about the films I watched in my origin piece made me so frightened/affected by them, and in my second experiment I focused on “object-women” specifically in the granddaddy of sci-fi horror tv shows, “The Twilight Zone”. If I had looked to more of the conclusions I had made in each of these pieces, would I have had a better time figuring out my sketch draft? Maybe. But this is definitely not the last time I want to experiment with this genre.

Experiment 3 Reflection

               The genre I researched for my Experiment 3 was Socratic dialogues. This definitely seemed to be the most niche genre of the three I’ve researched. I enjoyed being able to look into a more unique, uncommon genre, but I also felt like there weren’t many options to choose from compared to other genres. The pieces I chose were interesting, but I found myself wondering if their arguments would’ve worked better in the form of a standard philosophy essay. For example, there were times in “Crito” where Crito was just acting as Socrates’s yes-man instead of bringing up counterarguments. If there’s not really meaningful dialogue between characters, why format the piece as a dialogue at all? I like the idea of using a dialogue to display both sides of an argument, but I feel like the genre is only effective when the authors have plenty to consider on both sides. When done properly, however, I think the genre is great at enabling a naturally flowing argument.

               I think this genre would go fairly well if fully realized, but perhaps not as well as I initially thought. I think I could write a compelling dialogue, but I don’t know if the genre would feel entirely necessary for my argument. I have a few counterarguments to help propel the argument along, but I still feel like it would be rather short, and the counterarguments would be refuted too quickly. It might be more entertaining as a short story or short play because I could better incorporate some of the magical shenanigans you’d expect from Pathfinder clerics. Still, I think it’d be a very novel way to formulate an argument against euthanasia and I could likely iron out some of these issues with more research and brainstorming.

               This was a pretty radical departure from my origin piece. I kept the Pathfinder themes but decided to scrape the whole narrative about designing a character so I could explore a very different genre. This experiment would discuss neither Pathfinder character design nor my character, Ryan Kitt – it kept the Pathfinder theme and little else. Instead, it would take one of my interests (bioethics) and express it in the unusual form of a dialogue between Pathfinder clerics. I found it interesting to consider what types of topics and genres I could pursue if I scrapped most of the origin piece and focused on creative ideas related to Pathfinder in general.

               If I were to publish this piece, I’d need to look more into counterarguments against my stance on voluntary active euthanasia. More counterarguments would make my piece a better fit for the genre and would produce a more nuanced/compelling stance on the issue. It might also be helpful to read additional dialogues so I could gain inspiration on how to introduce and frame my argument – a few of my sources had interesting ideas, like including an explicit list of premises, so I’d like to see what other authors in the genre do. In terms of the topic, it might be helpful to look for hard cases concerning voluntary euthanasia (e.g. Is it permissible when the patient could be treated but refuses treatment for religious reasons?). It also might be helpful to look up tips on arguments about ethics, see if there’s any strategies that might be particularly useful in my case.

               Socratic dialogues don’t require much in the way of technical skills or equipment – they can be written entirely in text, with very little to worry about in terms of formatting. I could consider actually recording the dialogue read aloud with a friend, but I don’t think I’m interested in that route currently. It’s a little tough to say where I’d want to publish this piece. Its topic of euthanasia makes it a good candidate for forums and journals dedicated to (bio)ethics, but its Pathfinder spin means it could also fit on forums for Pathfinder or D&D, or perhaps even creative writing journals. The genre is, again, quite niche, so perhaps I could find a website eager to accept new Socratic dialogues.

Experiment 3 Reflection

For my third experiment, I decided to go with a genre that is more personal and text heavy than my previous ones. I chose to look into doing an open letter, specifically one addressed to the University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate Admissions. I have limited experience with reading open letters and I have never written one before, so this genre presented me with a unique challenge. My previous experiments were definitely in areas that I was more familiar with, so I had to do my research and push myself out of my comfort zone a little bit more for this one. I ended up really liking the flexibility of this genre in terms of content–an open letter can be written to just about anyone regarding just about anything. I also really liked how complex the audience of this genre is; on the surface, it seems like open letters are written pretty explicitly for a specific audience, namely the subject that is addressed in the title. However, this genre actually has a lot of power that is derived from its secondary intent to reach a broader, more implicit audience.

I think that a fully realized version of this experiment would end up being a lot more personal than my proposal was initially geared toward. One of the greatest affordances of the open letter is the validity of personal experience it allows for. Instead of having a completely evidence-driven letter recounting the empirical ways in which the college admissions process is unfair, my fully realized open letter would definitely lean on my own experience applying to, getting rejected from, and ultimately committing to college.

The foundation of the narrative behind my origin experience is a fight that my parents and I got into regarding college applications my senior year of high school. The stress that college applications and admissions causes is definitely key to my origin piece. This experiment would basically pull at that thread and push it into the current conversation about a legitimate issue that needs to be discussed. College admissions is something that is really salient to people my age, especially those who come from lower income, first generation, and/or minority backgrounds. Also, due to the recent college admissions scandal, I felt like doing a piece oriented toward this subject matter is incredibly relevant beyond my origin piece.

A fully realized version of this would require me to dive a little bit deeper into the conventional balance between the personal subject matter and its broader, more objective application. Otherwise, it does not really require me to pick up any additional skills. The open letter would just have to be typed up and then published on some sort of platform. This could be a personal blog or it could be a newspaper’s website. Ideally, due to the subject matter that my open letter deals with, this piece would be published in an outlet like the Michigan Daily, which is the University’s main newspaper. From here, it would be shared through social media, i.e. Facebook and Twitter, in order to fully make its intended impact.

Experiment 2 Reflection

I genuinely had no idea which genre I wanted to explore going into the second experiment, but I knew the aspect of my origin piece that I wanted to write about. In my origin piece, which is a reflective narrative about my relationship with my best friend Lindsay, I write about an incredibly fun day in New York City that she and I had. In the piece, I touch upon a hole in the wall dim sum place we went to, and I decided that I wanted to somehow write about food in NYC.

Initially I was confused about how to write about this through a genre that I found interesting, but then I realized a restaurant review article could be really cool. I have read many of these, so I’m fairly familiar with it, but I have never written one. Lindsay is actually a food blogger so I have some comfort with the genre through her, too. For a fully realized version of this, I would choose to go with an in depth review of one restaurant’s dining experience rather than a top 10 list. I think it would make it more personal since I could write it in narrative style, so my voice could better shine through.

There are definitely conventions surrounding this genre that I’m not fully familiar with, especially in terms of actually going to a restaurant with the intention of reviewing it. In terms of equipment, I just need my laptop to write and my phone to take notes and pictures with. I would want to publish this on a site like The New York Times or Eater. I want it to reach a broad audience and be easily searchable. While a restaurant guide like The Infatuation would also be really cool to write for, that publication mostly does top 10 lists and therefore wouldn’t give me room to be creative and really flex my writing ability.