Literati Event with Robin Queen

I must say, I was incredibly surprised by Robin’s interview at Literati. When I think of a linguist, I generally think of someone who is interested in how language works and how it has evolved; however, this wasn’t an exclusive interest of Robin’s – in fact, she seemed to almost favor creative works in writing her books. Admittedly, I have long held the view that academic work (such as linguistics in this case) are quite different than anything made for mainstream consumption. Somehow Robin has struck a balance between the two and I found this to be really interesting.

Robin also mentioned that in her writing, she often views it as an interaction with others. I have often heard that writing should be viewed as a conversation between the author and the reader, and this sentiment was echoed in the interview. But Robin put a spin on this that I had never really heard before: while writing is obviously meant to be read, Robin stated that she writes with the intention of having it be read aloud. This means that the way words sound, the way they interact, and the flow between words are all taken into account in her writing (I guess a lot of this makes sense, given her linguistic background). I think that all writers do this to some extent, in that words and flow are important – but never have I sat down and thought, “What would this sound like if I wanted it to be read aloud? And how would that change my writing process leading up to a finished product?”

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure how I would go about writing something that was strictly meant to be read aloud. Nor am I sure of how my message or argument would sound. Would I have to write the piece more like a speech? Or perhaps maybe a transcription? Or would I just have to write it like a normal paper and hope that it sounded the same read out loud? This would certainly yield some interesting literary conventions, as you would also have to juggle the sound structure of words in addition to the other rhetorical techniques that accompany writing.

Additionally, Robin mentioned that she will sometimes handwrite a lot of her work. This got me thinking: when’s the last time I handwrote a paper? And similarly to writing with the intention of having it read out loud, how would this change my argument and prose? While it may seem like a relatively insignificant change of pace, I think there are some interesting consequences that could arise from writing with pen and paper. Perhaps this would manifest in more “stream of consciousness” writing, or perhaps maybe in more deliberate works (who wants to drag out pages and pages worth of handwriting when you can more efficiently type the same thing?), but at any rate, these all might be fun conventions to try in future writing.

Production Plan State of Affairs

After going through and writing the production plan, I feel much better about the general direction of my project. It seems to be taking a more physical form (as opposed to a philosophical one) and I think that explicitly scheduling out what needs to be done certainly contributed to this. However, the one part that concerned me after going through the plan was the feasibility of its implementation – in other words, holy cow, this is going to be a lot of work. One thing that I think I will undoubtedly need to do moving forward is examine what parts of this project are completely necessary and which ones are otherwise superfluous. Time permitting, the more frivolous aspects of this plan can be added; however, the absolute necessities of this project must be focused on first.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what these necessities are, and I suppose that’s one area that I could most definitely use some help in. Some things that immediately come to mind are recording my own piece of composition, editing a song recording, and composing a piece of music from scratch. I would argue all three of these are important to the success of this project, yet I really don’t have a clue how to go about doing them practically. Now while part of my project is an exploration of how to go about doing these things, that’s not what I’m really concerned about. What worries me is that any given one of them could take more time than I have allotted, seeing as they will all be very new and foreign experiences. What should I be prioritizing in the event that I simply do not have enough time to effectively research all these moving parts? As I think through this, I believe this is a great place to refer to my “expert” contact, though at the moment, I’m still unsure of how to best use this resource.

I think that by and large, these are relatively minor concerns because they originate from not having actually started the project. A lot of the time beginning an otherwise large assignment is the hardest part, and I think this is a concern created by “not being able to see past the top of the bridge to the other side,” as Raymond pointed out in class. My hope is that the answers to such questions will become clear as I begin the research process.

Capstone Project Progress

Some things are just never as easy as they look, and I suppose this project is no exception. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m really excited about the prospect of what this all could turn out to be – but it just seems like every time I blink there’s a new caveat or confounding variable that this project must incorporate. Much like life itself, this project seems to be in a state of constant change.

When I started out thinking about a project idea, I immediately sought something that I thought would interest me. I thought about science, sports, and a whole host of different ideas. But for whatever reason music stuck with me – “How cool would it be to create some of my own music?”, I thought. It seemed like the perfect idea, and certainly one I could get excited about. The only problem with creating music, however, is that it’s certainly not a unique medium or process. So with this in mind, I decidedly had to figure out a way to add nuance to this idea.

After talking with Raymond, I decided that my creation of music should be placed into a working context with perhaps a little more perspective. How do musicians who can read music differ from people like myself who cannot? How do their creative processes and final musical products differ? And where does my attempt at creating music fit in? All of these questions gave me a necessary twist to an otherwise oft frequented creative medium.

I was really excited to have all this in place – it just seemed like a really great jumping point for the rest of the project. But again, just like my preliminary idea, things are just never that simple. While much of this sounds great in theory, the implementation of a project such as this is much more daunting. What exactly does this project look like applied in practice? How can I effectively tie together recorded audio and text in a presentable fashion? As I wrote my proposal, these were lingering thoughts that bothered me because quite frankly, I have no idea what the answer is to any of them.

At any rate, this project has gone from “let’s make music, that should be interesting” to “let’s make music while simultaneously analyzing and researching musicians from all different kinds of musical backgrounds to see how their creative processes differ.” Needless to say, things have become far more complicated. In a way though, I think I’m completely ok with that. Having this kind of twist on the project will make it far more unique and far less predictable. I’m truly excited to see where this all goes, because I honestly don’t even have an idea of where it’s going to start.

Capstone Project

When I first started thinking of potential project ideas, my mind immediately jumped to things that pique my interest: I thought of a project on some kind of science, music, or perhaps even government and politics. But of all these options, I had a really hard time convincing myself that I should do anything other than something music related. This project seems like a perfect opportunity to explore something I haven’t really had a chance to study in my undergraduate education, and music is certainly one of those things. While I have musical background in playing guitar, bass, and saxophone, I’ve never had any formal training on them – everything I’ve learned has been more or less self-guided. I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to try and combine these skills in a more formal setting?” I know nothing about musical composition or musical theory, but I still understand basic aspects of how music works with respect to the instruments that I play. So with this in mind, I envisioned my project centering on the idea of musical composition.

Now of course, my enjoyment of a particular subject doesn’t guarantee that a larger audience will – so part of the dilemma of creating this project will be presenting it in a fashion that is relatable and enjoyable for others. Doing a project such as this comes with risk, as it could very well become a mess of unstructured disciplines and genres. While I don’t yet have a good idea of how this project should be put together, here are some of my initial thoughts regarding discipline, genre, and media:

Discipline: Musical composition is not a new discipline and it is something that has certainly been done for quite some time. Undoubtedly the same goes for writing. However, in doing a project such as this, I would like to combine writing and musical composition in some way or another. I initially imagined doing a journal that documented the project progress, but I am still wary of how this will actually look applied.

Genre: In doing a project such as this, my hope is that I can create somewhat of a unique discipline. Seeing as this project would have a musical component, I would imagine that a fair amount of this project will incorporate audio. Additionally, a writing component would accompany this in some form or another. I’m hesitant to assign a specific name to what this genre might look like, as it will hopefully be something new!

Media: Not everything is fit for just writing and music definitely falls into that category. This project would have to be multi-faceted in genre as there would be audio, writing, and depending on the direction of the project, possibly video. By combining different media aspects (as opposed to limiting it to just one) I can perhaps give this project an interesting spin.

In truth, I don’t have a very good idea of where I want this project to go at the moment. As I move forward through this process, my hope is that the project’s more practical logistics and applications become clearer. Eventually I would like for this plan to become much more concrete, but this preliminary brainstorm will provide a springboard for things to come.

Three Lists

Today in class we talked about what disciplines contributed to the overall body of work seen in our repurposing and remediation assignments. In addition to identifying these particular disciplines, we were also asked to assign percentages corresponding to their relative usage throughout the assignment. So without further ado, I have assembled my lists below:

Repurposing:

  • Political Science – 25%
  • Philosophy – 10%
  • Psychology – 10%
  • Biology – 15%
  • English – 40%

Remediation:

  • Political Science – 40%
  • Philosophy – 10%
  • Psychology – 10%
  • History – 20%
  • English – 20%

 What Needs to Be Learned for the Future:

  • Website design
  • Experience/proficiency in multimedia platforms
  • Best method of assignment organization
  • Concrete idea of goals, direction, and method of implementation concerning future assignments

Literati Event with Phoebe Gloeckner

Going into this interview, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. While I haven’t had much exposure to Phoebe’s work, I’ve heard a lot about it – in truth, everything seemed to indicate that she is a rather remarkable person. So with that being said, I always find it interesting to listen to an author talk about their work, especially one who likes to stray off the beaten path. From the sounds of it, Phoebe has really made a point to push the limits on genre and the extent to which you can mix them. Especially in cases like these, it can be really hard to appreciate an author’s work without hearing their own take on it. Needless to say, after listening to Phoebe talk about her work, I immediately had a couple big “take-aways.”

While I have always thought of myself as more of a chronological, process-driven person, it was extremely interesting to me that Phoebe seemed completely against chronology. In doing most of her work, she never makes a point to map anything out, and rather, just does it as she goes. Additionally she made a point of saying that she never wants to rely too heavily on one skill, which oftentimes leads to her genre mixing. I find this extremely interesting because 1)I’ve never had an English teacher tell me to completely ignore preliminary processes and jump right into an assignment…nor have I ever been taught how to do something like that – and – 2)I almost always rely too heavily on a particular skill set because that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what I know works. I suppose I’m not too sure of what to make of this, except to point out that there isn’t one good way of going about a creative process.

But perhaps even more so than any of this, I realized that if there is one thing Phoebe really makes a point to do, it is making sure she embodies her work. You could tell that she truly lives and breathes her work, connecting with it on an extremely deep level. But at the end of the day, when it comes to the creation of good writing, that is perhaps the best way of going about it.

Remediation Resources

Toward the end of class last week, we began discussing the remediation project as a whole. While the project itself will certainly be an interesting twist to some of our previous works, it also lends a rather daunting challenge: at least for me, part of the difficulty in this project comes in figuring out what to do with all this creative freedom, and I think that can be tough to do with so many different mediums available. As we traverse some of the problems that come with transferring a previous argument to a new medium, some of the resources offered by the university will perhaps be important to keep in mind.

From what I can tell in discussing with other students in the class, it appears that many of us are looking to do some visually constructed project (whether it be video, presentation, etc). For those of us pursuing this kind of a project, it might be worth looking into what the ISS Media Center (located on the second floor of the MLB) has to offer. They do all sorts of video, audio, and post-production work for LSA students, so pretty much anything you have in mind when it comes to video they will be able to help you with. In previous assignments for other classes, I’ve used them to loan video/audio recording equipment and it was an extremely valuable tool for my project. I have never had to use any of their studios or editing software, but from what I hear that is also a very valuable resource.

On a somewhat similar note, anyone looking to do a presentation/video style project can look into some of the production rooms located in the Shapiro Library. I have never used these before myself, but from the sounds of it you can reserve specialized rooms that are exclusively for editing video or recording presentations.

Obviously not all of this would be entirely practical to use, especially for those of us who already have a grasp on video production, but maybe it would be something good to look into if you are feeling stuck or at a loss in the remediation process. Hope this helps!

 

Initial Ideas Concerning Remediation

In writing my repurposing paper, I wanted to take a fairly narrow argument concerning politics and broaden its scope. Politics are often a fairly divisive issue, so I thought: wouldn’t it be interesting to take a paper that was politically one-sided and complicate it? As I re-read the original paper that I wrote, I noticed that some sort of personal preference or opinion is always at play in political discourse, even though there are many nuances that we tend to ignore with our predispositions. Oftentimes this leaves us with a somewhat skewed view of a particular policy or political ideology.

The transformation that the original paper took was quite remarkable because of this. By opening up to a more wholesome perspective and by removing some heavy-handed language, an otherwise small target audience was effectively switched to a wider, more encompassing audience. The paper still remained politically driven – so perhaps the paper only appealed to politically interested individuals – but arguably a wider subset of people would at least be able to participate in the presented arguments. Undoubtedly this change was incredibly interesting to see happen, but perhaps even this change didn’t reach what would be the ideal target audience.

When I think of politics, one of the things that immediately comes to mind is argument – and specifically, spoken argument. At least for me, I find this rather fascinating. In situations where oral arguments take place, you don’t necessarily have time to sit and think about what you want to say. Everything is purely reactionary. Though this facet of political discourse may be hard to incorporate into a written paper, this is an idea I want to explore in remediation. I want to try and use some of the “impulse” thinking that often accompanies political thoughts. Perhaps this could be accomplished through something like a radio talk show or maybe even a pseudo-speech of some sort. At any rate, I think using either of these two strategies (in one form of media or another) would more faithfully convey what I am trying to argue in my repurposing paper. A change in the mode of delivery would be an interesting twist to an argument that might be better served in a spoken medium.

 

Audiences Addressed in Repurposing

For the upcoming Repurposing Essay, I would like to rework a paper I completed some time ago for a political science class. The original essay covered voters’ decision making and how they used political parties as a heuristic for their own political ideology; however, it was laden with dense terminology and very one-sided. I was required to use a thesis sentence and present an argument that only had one side to it, which resulted in paper that left me feeling as though my argument was too simple. In writing this repurposing essay, I want to try and complicate this argument a little bit to hopefully address a new audience.

It is important to note, however, that in discussing audience, you must be aware of whom you’re talking to, whom you’re talking at, and whom you about. I want to make sure that this paper addresses a general audience – in other words, I don’t want it to be highly academic (such as my last paper was), nor do I want it to be over-simplified. Ideally this paper will be aimed at people who take a general interest in politics, which will comprise the “to” portion of my audience. Additionally, as a consequence of discussing politics, it is quite apparent who this paper will be about. I envision the majority of the “about” audience to be concerned with politicians and other active members of political discourse.

While both the “to” and “about” audiences are important to cover throughout this paper, the same cannot be said about the “at” audience. Talking at someone implies that you are not allowing them to enter the conversation because you refuse to give them any voice in the conversation. In a politically driven paper, this will be incredibly important to recognize. For me, my “at” audience will be the people who hold different political views than I do. In essence, it is very easy to completely leave other’s view out of the equation if you (as a writer) assume that your ideologies are superior to the reader simply on a moral basis. This can be extremely alienating to a reader, meaning that an author must use his or her discretion to avoid such problems.

 

Rhetorical Positioning

As we discussed earlier today in class, the first person (or lack thereof) can be used to interesting effects in writing. Even on a topic that is more or less the same, a simple change in the complexion of pronouns can really change the general feel of prose. In going through and trying this myself, it became immediately apparent that utilizing both techniques while covering the same subject matter produces two entirely different effects. On one hand we have a completely first person written account, where everything produced by the author is directed as “I” or “you.” On the other hand, we have the complete opposite of this, where neither the writer nor the reader is directly included into the writing.

It is not often that you see writing conducted entirely on one end of this spectrum, and perhaps with good reason. Each technique has its own advantages and drawbacks that are not mutually exclusive. In truth, a balance of each is needed to counteract the negative side-effects that the other produces. An entirely first person written account is extremely effective in implicating the reader. When an author consistently uses “I” and “you,” the reader has no choice but to face the writer’s call to action. This can be extremely effective to an extent; however, it all comes at the cost of rhetorical positioning. The overuse of “I” and “you” effectively creates a situation where the author come off as entirely opinionated, and thus invites the reader to question the author’s claims. This, in essence, leaves little room to validate otherwise very specific and directed proclamations.

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, where the author refuses to use either “I” or “you,” the author loses a sense of implication but gains a more manageable rhetorical position. The problems that arose with the overuse of “I” and “you” are eliminated in this instance, but the general statements that are required to do this do not have a call to action or any real implication for the reader. Indeed, even though this style reads as more on par with colloquial writing, the many generalities used in avoiding first person pronouns creates rather vague writing. At times, as I critiqued my two distinctly separate works, I found myself asking, “Who exactly am I trying to talk about? Why does any of this matter to the reader?” The culmination of all of this created a situation where the writing itself was no better off than in its first person rendition.

Whereas one style of writing here created a situation that came off a little too strong, the other did not come off as strong enough. Both distinct styles had their own advantages, but in examining both a little further, I found that the most effective style of writing probably falls somewhere right in between the two extremes.