Where I Need Help

What I feel confident about:

  • The research aspect: At this point in my academic career, I’ve had to write quite a few research papers, so I feel fairly confident in my ability to find background information to support my project.

What I need the most help with:

  • The fictive aspect: I barely have any experience writing in fiction. The only assignment I can recall in which I’ve written fiction is the Pikachu/Fire assignment from the gateway course. Regardless, I’m really excited try out this form. I think I’ll just have to rely heavily on feedback from Ray and my classmates to determine whether I actually have a grasp on this type of writing.
  • The illustrations: What makes me nervous about this aspect is trying to maintain a consistent theme between my illustrations and the general design of the project. Also, I have no idea what the content of these illustrations will be, but I am hoping inspiration will come along as I begin writing.
  • Portrayal of Haitian culture: This is probably the most worrying aspect of my project. I will have to portray a Haitian child in a way that is realistic and try to formulate her character without pushing traits associated with the Global West or stereotypes associated with the Global South.

 

Changing Project Idea

Whoops, totally thought this was due today.

Anyway, for my project I was initially planning on writing a fictional story about the Haitian earthquake that ambiguously encompassed broader shortcomings of foreign aid. Then, while speaking with Ray, we concluded that a social allegory would be most effective. In doing this, I will have to place less emphasis on the fictive aspect of my work than I originally intended and more on the informative side.

An issue that came up during class was how I would go about balancing both of these domains without disappointing either audience (those looking for good fiction and those looking to become more informed). My group suggested using annotations to include the narrative side, which gave me my answer: I can separate fictive from informative explicitly so that my audience can clearly see what I’m trying to achieve.
Another revision to my project will be made based on Ray’s feedback on my proposal. He pointed out that trying to investigate the inner workings of foreign aid agencies is beyond the reach of my narrative and suggests that I instead critique the perspective that informs foreign aid itself. I will keep this in mind as I begin my research on the subject and try to formulate a more realistic judgment about foreign aid with which to inform the narrative.

Capstone Project Idea: Haiti

At the moment, my favorite idea for the capstone project is writing a fictional piece about the foreign aid catastrophe that took place after the Haiti earthquake. Honestly, I don’t know much about it aside from when it was briefly mentioned my Political Economy and Development class last semester. Apparently, after the earthquake, the U.S. did dish out a substantial amount of foreign aid money, but it went to all the wrong things. Soccer fields and cultural centers were built in areas where people lacked sanitation. A large portion of funds was sent to a city the was not directly affected by the earthquake, but which supported industries from which the US benefited.

I’m choosing fiction for this project because, unfortunately, it’s a genre I’m rarely able to use. The first time I was able to write fiction was in the gateway course when I wrote a short story about Pikachu. It was so liberating being able to write whatever I wanted, and I’m aching for a chance to feel that again. One downside of having so little experience in that type of writing is that I don’t know if I’m actually any good at it. I’ll probably have to meet with Ray and get some feedback on that… Anyway, I’ll outline the general idea I have for a plot right now.

The story will follow the lives of 2 characters: a woman working for a U.S. aid agency and a Haitian girl who survives the earthquake.

The woman will be in her late 20s or early 30s. She will be somewhat caught up in the bureaucracy of managing foreign aid and will play a part in collaborating with industries, focusing on profitable partnerships, and ultimately not feeling any emotional connection to the initiatives for which she should be advocating.

The girl will be young, maybe 7-9 years old. With her character, I want to completely deteriorate the cliché image of the suffering, malnourished, Haitian child, and invent a character full of personality, quirks, creativity- traits that make her universally lovable and relatable. I still have to remain realistic, which is why I’ll have to brush up on my knowledge of Haitian culture and avoid westernizing her for the sake of having a relatable character.

The two will meet during the aftermath of the earthquake, or perhaps even during. The woman will be visiting Haiti’s capital for business related to her agency when the earthquake hits. I’m not sure how they’ll meet, but the girl, who is more familiar with the area, will end up helping her. They’ll eventually find the girl’s family who is generous to the woman, despite their poor condition. I will spend some time talking about the destruction of health care infrastructure, and elaborate on the medical side of what went on (since I have a strong interest in medicine) As the story unravels, the woman will experience first-hand how foreign aid initiatives (that she helped work on) fail her and other survivors- something that will be unsettling and eye-opening. The story may end with her looking across the destruction, taking in the suffering- the poor living conditions, the broken infrastructure, the cholera outbreak- and feeling the true weight of the decisions she made earlier in the story. Maybe the girl will die from cholera. Is that too much? I want the story to be moving but not completely dismal.

Anyway onto the assignment:

Disciplines: history, cultural anthropology, politics, economics, business, medicine

Focal object: failure of foreign aid investments in Haiti

Confounding variable: fiction. I’ve found several non-fiction pieces on the subject, but haven’t seen much fiction writing on it. I think this genre will really help readers be able to emotionally connect with the issue.

 

 

 

Phoebe Gloeckner Interview

About a week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of watching a live interview with Phoebe Gloeckner conducted by Professor McDaniel. Gloeckner is a writer and illustrator who is well known for her works, A Child’s Life and Other Stories and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. During the interview, she spoke of her experience,  inspiration, and how she approaches her work.

What resonated with me the most was Gloeckner’s description of her work ethic. It seemed like an impulsive, in-the-moment, process. I found this inspiring because I often lack structure in my own work method. Though I’ve always believed this would not exactly be ideal in the real world, Gloeckner has proved me wrong, having had much success with this approach. Then again, I’m sure her exceptional intellectual and creative abilities grant her this flexibility to a degree.

Overall, I thought the interview was entertaining, and I left feeling inspired to further explore and develop my own creative talents.

The Three Lists

Our in-class assignment on Tuesday involved writing lists of disciplines applicable to our repurposing and remediation assignments, as well as a list of what we need to learn/ understand better in order to successfully carry out these projects. Here are mine.

 

Repurposed:

Latin American Studies 40%

Psychology 10%

Law 10%

Political Science 15%

Sociology 15%

Spanish 10%

 

Remediation:

Biology 20%

Genetics 10%

Psychology 10%

English 30%

Screen Arts 30%

 

Disciplines of which I need to improve my understanding:

Latin American Studies

Political Science (international relations)

Spanish (variation: regional dialects, characteristics, etc.)

Law (Immigration Law)

Screen Arts

History

Psychology

Biology

Economics

Sociology

 

For these lists, I focused more on content than the means I am using for each assignment. I found, however, that for remediation, I was unable to separate content from means (moving images), so I included screen arts as a necessary discipline.

Remediation Methods

I’ve decided to make a video for my remediation project, which will itself require a few different media platforms. I’m certified to use the Electronic Music Studio A and the Multimedia workrooms at the Duderstadt, so I will most likely be going there to record audio/background music. I also recently bought a recording interface, but I don’t know how to use it yet, and I’m still not as familiar as I’d like to be with Cubase (I just downloaded a compact version), so I’ll probably just stick to the music studios. As far as filming goes, students are allowed to check out a variety of equipment at ISS (Instructional Support Services). I’ll either be doing that or just using my own digital camera. I may be featuring/animating my own art as well, and though I’m all set on art supplies, it’s available at Ulrich’s if anyone is looking to buy supplies on campus.

Remediation Ideas and Obstacles

I found when writing my repurposed essay, that I felt restricted with how much detail I was able to include. When I write, particularly with narratives, I become so incredibly absorbed that I experience every detail of the setting I’m creating, from specific aspects like lighting, hue, and dialogue, to general elements like the ambience and underlying tone of the scene. For this reason, a film would be ideal. Many of these details -which can seem rather insignificant in writing- can actually serve a purpose on screen. This would definitely be my first choice, however most of the story takes place in Central America, so I have no idea how I would go about filming it.

That being said, I’m considering using a different writing piece. If I were to go with my “Why I Write” essay, I would have much more flexibility in creating a film adaptation. I’m considering transforming it into a short documentary-style film, with a voice-over of excerpts from my essay. When we discussed this in class, Jacob mentioned that in film, music can be used to add emotion to a scene. Since my essay draws a parallel between the evolution of my writing and the progression of my creative outlets (one being musical composition), this gave me the idea of recording original songs and including them as background music in the film.

I still have a lot to consider, including the time and resources necessary for this type of project; but for now, this is how I plan to approach the assignment.

To, At, About

Refresher: My repurposed essay is about an undocumented immigrant and her journey to the United States.

 

To: In my original essay, I was speaking to American citizens, addressing them explicitly, and asking them to try to be understanding and receptive to the issue about which I am speaking. In the repurposed version, I am instead speaking to undocumented immigrants. Though the prose in my writing is in English, Professor McDaniel encouraged me to keep my dialogue in Spanish. Most Hispanic immigrants are or are in the process of becoming bilingual; so I think this will be an effective approach in addressing this particular audience.

 

At: I’m not entirely sure about this one, but I may still be talking at American citizens though I’m implicitly addressing undocumented immigrants. In documenting this story, I feel as though I am still striving to reach my original goal to some degree- that is, help those who have not been in this situation understand and hopefully contribute to a generally more tolerant social atmosphere.

 

About: I am writing about one undocumented immigrant, but in later revisions I plan to expand this into a collection of multiple narratives. This way I can illustrate the variety of experiences that exist among undocumented immigrants and in doing so broaden the ‘about’ element to encompass more of the general population.

Implicit vs Explicit Relationship with Audience

For the in-class assignment, we wrote about our re-purposed essays while experimenting with explicitly and implicitly addressing the audience. The essay I’ve chosen to re-purpose is an article I wrote about an undocumented immigrant and her journey to the United States. In this assignment, I found that being able to address the audience directly allowed me to be more personal with my language. For example I stated that I would “use my writing to demonstrate that you are not alone in your struggle,” addressing other undocumented immigrants, an audience I wish to include in my re-purposed version.

In the next paragraph, I was required to instead maintain an implicit relationship with the audience. I found that this type of writing lacked the emotion that fueled the first paragraph. I stated that by publishing individual stories, “questions can be answered, relationships formed, and disputes settled.” My experience with academic writing seemed to make this approach easier, however, I preferred the sense of familiarity that I was able to communicate through establishing an explicit relationship with my audience.

Dissecting Argumentation

Are there instances where an argument is necessary?

1. Yes. From intellectual development to scientific innovation, the process of challenging and testing the information you have been given is a necessary component in both individual and collective progress. In conversation, even if neither side of an argument is correct, there is generally still something to be learned, given that each claim is supported by factual evidence.

2. Are there instances when arguing is a mistake?

Rarely, but yes. When you are in the unfortunate situation of arguing with someone who is making inaccurate and biased claims, it is still beneficial to know that this perspective exists. Attempting to understand the other side of an argument even at the smallest degree can facilitate your discussion and help you structure your own arguments more effectively.

3. Can an argument be both necessary and a mistake at the same time?

Yes, this is possible. An example that comes to mind is the vaccine debate. It seems to me that we have a situation of misinformation and mistrust in authority. Vaccine skeptics who argue that vaccines have been linked to autism often reference a study that has been repeatedly disproved. In this instance, an argument would be helpful in pinpointing and rejecting the source of false information. However, since there is an underlying notion of mistrust, it is very difficult to reach a mutual understanding on the issue. This is a situation where an argument could potentially intensify the disagreement rather than settle it.