Drumroll Please….

This past semester I have been diligently working on my Capstone project, and my passion for it has increasingly grown every day. I was inspired to create a women’s magazine that seeks to do three main things: educate women, empower women, and redefine what it means to be a women’s magazine. This magazine contains information about topics that directly impact women, whether that information be politically related, health care related, etc. This magazine is also unique in that it is interactive; I have hyperlinked all of the articles that I used during my research, so that readers can directly click on them and read additional information if they would like. There are a variety of perspectives covered in my magazine and topics are presented from an unbiased perspective, allowing the readers to receive information in an objective manner. I am extremely excited to finally be able to present my final product. After weeks of hard work and hours of intensive research, here is my project: https://kuzelann.wixsite.com/annmariehkuzel

 

Remaining Objective in a Subjective World

One of the main objectives of my Capstone project was to remain objective. Journalism and news today is so biased and exists for so many different political, social, and personal interests, and I wanted to help inspire a new genre of journalism that put objectivity at the top of its priority list. This task, however, is more difficult than I thought.

Remaining objective is one of the most important characteristics in ideal journalism. Journalism exists as a source of information for the people of a democracy. This information is “supposed to” be unbiased, thorough, and come from all ends of the political and social spectrum. The people of the democracy are then tasked with reading all of this information and deciding which viewpoint they personally believe in. This was the sort of objectivity I was hoping to replicate in my magazine project.

Objectivity is not just important for the people of a democracy, but it is extremely important for the women of a democracy. Today, men in the government are largely responsible for making decisions about issues that relate directly to women. While this lack of say in such issues is demeaning to women, it also suggests that women need not inform themselves about such issues since they ultimately have little to no influence in the decision making processes. This is the reason why women need to be more informed. By educating women, they can take a stance on issues that impact their lives and hopefully have more control relating to such issues. This can only be accomplished, however, if the information that women receive is objective and honest.

As I begin to write about issues that are significant to women, I find myself entering territory that can be viewed as biased. This is the case especially when I talk about politics and politicians. I had planned to make Donald Trump a major part of my magazine, but after presenting my project to the class, I realized that there is a way to talk about Donald Trump’s relation to women without have him be the focus of the content. Instead of focusing on “Donald Trump and Women’s Reproductive Rights” and I should instead focus on just women’s reproductive rights, and Donald Trump’s legislation might be mentioned at times, but it does not have to be the main focus.

As a result, I have learned why objectivity is so uncommon in the news today. In theory, it is ideal and just. In reality, it can be extremely difficult to execute.

 

So Close, Yet So Far Away

From the moment I was accepted into the Minor for Writing and learned about the Capstone project, I could not wait! Having nearly complete creativity over a project with no topic restrictions sounded inspiring, and I immediately began brainstorming countless ideas. I was so anxious to begin my Capstone class and immerse myself completely in my project. However, now that Capstone is here, it is slightly (a lot )more daunting.    

 

When I began my project, I was sure that I wanted to pursue a recent dream of mine: creating a television show with strong, influential female hosts discussing significant news and events relating to women. The inspiration behind this show was to create objective news and to create a space for women to get informed and be empowered. As weeks went by in my Capstone course, I continued to grow excited about my project, but it seemed that the more excited I became, the more nervous and uncertain I became as well. For starters, I have no experience in creating TV shows. I do not know what sorts of technology needs to be utilized. I did not know which women I would feature on my show. I did not know which topics I would discuss. Quite frankly, it seemed as though I knew nothing about how to begin my project.

 

So it was back to the drawing board. After much consideration, I decided to change the platform of my project. Rather than pursuer a TV show, I would create a magazine. Although this decision greatly changed many aspects of my project, the large objectives stayed the same; I was still dedicated to delivering news as objectively as possible while serving to empower and educate women. It seemed as if I had made sleigh progress in my project. At first, my decision to pursue a magazine seemed to leave with me just as many questions as I had before, but after lots of thought, I had started to make some progress. I found some websites to make magazines on. I did some research about powerful women. I had some ideas about what I wanted to write about. Progress! I was making progress! But every time it came down to opening up my computer and actually writing something….I still couldn’t do it. And so here I am, writing a blog post about my inability to write my magazine instead of actually writing my magazine. But I have a purpose. I am writing this post to reassure any writer who has found that the more progress they make with a project, the farther they seem to be from the finish line, that they are not alone. Even as a project begins to take shape, it can become even more daunting to begin it. Perhaps this is because we are nervous that our actual product will not meet the expectations we had set in place with our imagined project. Nevertheless, I hope I am not alone in having some fears about beginning my Capstone, and I have a strong feeling that tomorrow is the day I will finally put pen to paper.

Creative and Academic Pop Culture

Hi fellow writers! I am AnnMarie Kuzel, a Junior from Chicago with a life long passion for writing. Like most writers, I have immersed myself in a variety of writing communities during my life in an attempt to find my place within the massive writing world. These communities have included (at one point or another) creative writing classes, argumentation classes, pop-culture blogs, a trade publication, and writing camps. While I am no longer an active member in most of these writing communities, I gained great knowledge from each of them about how to vary and utilize different voices, styles, formats, and audiences. Today, I am a member of two very different writing communities; the first is a student-run record label which has appointed me as their web editor who writes and edits articles, and the other is a Communications Studies major which requires me to write numerous research articles regarding a variety of topics.

As the web editor for Empty Mug Records, I am responsible for writing articles about recent pop-culture news and contributions, usually regarding music. I have written articles about Kid Cudi checking into rehab, Kanye West releasing new songs, and The Weeknd’s new album. While I am provided a lot of creative liberty when choosing the topic I want to write about, I still utilize many of the skills that I have learned from previous writing classes and experiences. My formatting and voice change with each article, but I am constantly aware of who my audience is and how I have to manipulate my thoughts to appeal to their interests. Though these pieces do require research and incorporate factual support, they are largely opinion based. At times, I can get carried away in the analysis of new albums or songs, because I am so used to doing in-depth analyses for my academic and professional writing, and this is when I have to remember who my audience is and how to appeal to them in the best way possible.

I am also a part of the Communications Studies writing community, which is much more research based, reliant on textual support and analysis, and rarely (if ever) makes room for opinion. The essays that are writing for many of the Communications classes at the University of Michigan are research oriented. I am provided creative liberty when it comes to picking a topic (sometimes) and then have to abide by the rubrics that go along with each essay and research paper assignment. These rubrics require the essay/paper to have a certain format, including an introduction, textual analysis, audience analysis, methods, findings, and conclusion section. Within each of these sections are more specific guidelines which usually require a certain amount of sources to be utilized, among other things. Here, there is no room for opinion or creative liberty. Though the topics are often related to pop-culture, the type of writing I have to do is very different than the type of writing I do for Empty Mug Records, and it is for a very different audience (academia). It can be difficult at times to write about such similar topics and have to deliver the information vastly different ways. However, it is refreshing to be able to have an outlet that lets me utilize my academic writing and another outlet that allows me express myself more creatively.

During this Capstone course, I look forward to being able to utilize both my academic writing skills and creative writing skills in a way that works in harmony and creates a unique piece of work.

Boilerplates and Clichés

When looking for examples of boilerplates, I geared my research towards the homepage , the “About Us” and other similar pages of websites. I stumbled upon the “About SCU” page of the Santa Clara University website (the university that I almost attended before I decided to come to Michigan), and I immediately noticed a boilerplate in one of the very first sentences on the page: “We are committed to leaving the world a better place”. This statement could not be more vague if it tried. Who is “we”? The faculty? The students? The donors? How is it committed? Through its academics? Through its campus philanthropy work? Through its environmental involvement? And lastly, what is a “better place”? A happier place? A safer place? A more educated place? Upon reading the statement at first, a reader understands what the website is attempting to say. But after deeper analyzing it, they realize that the statement is extremely vague and could be applied to just about any group, organization, company, or institution.
Clichés have always been a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. I think it is one of those topics that is so easy to understand that it is difficult. But in my attempt to think of a cliché, this is what I came up with: “No offense but….”. This is a statement that we have all heard before, and most likely dreaded the rest of the sentence to follow. It is also a statement that we have all said before, most likely to lessen the pain of the following insult of brutal truth. However, because it is used so often, it has lost its original meaning. When these words were first spoken, they were likely used out of genuine care in an attempt to lessen the hurt feelings of someone dear. Now, however, it is just the preliminary phrase that is spoken to justify an insult or cruel comment. In fact, it has almost adopted a cruel tone and connotation in itself. It’s strange how over use can alter the entire meaning of a few seemingly simple and innocent words.

What really is an “autobiography”?

To me, autobiographies have always been a strange concept. Biographies, on the other hand, I understand. There is nothing confusing about writing about the life of someone else out of personal interest or in order to share a life with the world. Authobiographies, though, are much stranger. An autobiography is the result of someone who decides to write about themselves, about their entire life, and share it with the world. It is considered vain, egotistical, and obnoxious when a person TALKS about them self, about their entire life, but for someone reason it is acceptable to WRITE about it. Does know else find it slightly vane that a person would decide to write about their life with the assumption that a large audience is craving the story? Of course, I understand the circumstances when the story contains an experience that most other people may not have experienced or been properly educated about, but still, the concept seems strange. While I admit I have read an enjoyable autobiography or two in my day, I can not deny that the genre seems strange to me. Would a proper name be, “Me writing about me and sharing it with you because you should want to read and learn about me”?

Why I Write

While I feel that my life up to this point has largely been about trying to discover myself, there are two things about which I have always been certain:I love music and I love sophisticated diction. I suppose these two things are similar in the way that they both possess an auditory appeal.

Thick, layered, extremely textured music has always been my favorite (think The Weeknd or Majid Jordan) because of the way that it creates a sensory overload. Besides admiring instrumentals, I keep written documentation of my favorite lyrics from songs as well. The lyrics found in my journal appeal to me either because I thought a specific line(s) had great auditory appeal or because I admired the way the artist portrayed a specific idea through creative diction/syntax/metaphor/etc.

When I discovered the thesaurus during my early elementary-school years, my teachers were thoroughly impressed and entertained. Once I reached high school, however, I encountered numerous teachers who told me to tone down and simplify my diction. These encounters continued into my college experience as well. I understand that sophisticated prose is not acceptable for certain genres, audiences, or purposes, but when I write something- anything- it is to express an idea in the most aurally pleasing way. While I find the most pleasure in writing about my deepest passions, especially music, I find that I can enjoyably write about almost any topic as long as I have the creative liberation to utilize the sophisticated diction and writing styles that I most enjoy.

In short, I write to be able to manipulate language in ways that satisfy my thirst for aurally pleasing sounds. I have always been extremely interested in the way certain words sound, as well as their different definitions, and writing allows me to take these words and place them where and how I want.

Remediation

1. Video: because my piece uses such descriptive language, I feel that it could be very interesting to make a video where one person is reading the ballet section and another person is reading the writing section. The video would be edited to cut back and forth between the two readers.
2. Children’s book: since both of these actions are things that young children often participate in, I think I could simplify the writing so that it appeals to a young audience. In the story I would write about either two characters, one who’s a ballerina and one who’s a writer, one one character who participates in both.
3. Tumblr: this would allow me to capitalize on the visual aspect of my writing too. I can choose pictures that represent my writing and include my writing on the page as well.

Internet History Was Spot-On

When we were first told to keep track of our internet history, I already had some expectations as to what my internet searching would look like; for the most part, I was right. As a massive music fan, I visit Complex almost every day. Similarly, I visit SoundCloud multiple times per day, YouTube a few times per week, and Empty Mug Records’ website daily. I visit each of these websites specifically for musical and pop culture purposes, which I feel demonstrates that pop culture plays a significant role in my life. This revelation, however, is nothing new. In addition to these internet searches, the majority of my internet history was made up of academic-related searches. These include CTools, Canvas, the Umich Library, and broad google searches related to research I was conducting for classes. Such internet activity can be expected of a college student. Since I was tracking my internet activity over the weekend, there were multiple food orders placed. While I don’t tend to order food online during the week, it is a regular habit over the weekend. Lastly, Facebook and Tumblr were the only social media platforms that were listed in my history. It is interesting that Tumblr was included because I tend to only visit that website when I am feeling particularly inspired or artistic. Over all, my internet history revealed exactly what I thought it would. The importance that I find in pop culture, my academics, indulging in good food, staying up to date with my peers, and expressing myself through artistic, emotional outlets.

Addicted to Houzz

After working as a in intern at a cabinetry and tile store this past summer, I am very familiar with the website Houzz. I used to have to update a Houzz account regularly for my internship, but after a while, I began visiting the website in my free time as well. In short, this website provides visitors with home decor and architectural inspiration and information. The layout and functionality of the website are very appealing, and despite being image heavy, it provides its visitors with an abundance of information.
The top of the home page displays the different pages that exist on the website (i.e. bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc.). There is also a search bar so that people can search for specific styles or items (i.e. spanish kitchen, mediterranean house, etc.). If you continue to scroll down the home page, you are greeted by a variety of images with short textual captions. There is a combination of articles, household object descriptions, house tours, landscape tours, and more. The images are set up in a consistent pattern: 3 rows with 3 images followed by one row with a large image (repeat, repeat, repeat). This simple, recurring layout helps the visitor to not feel overwhelmed by the variety of stories and options on the home page. After clicking on an image, a short description typically pops up, as well as additional information that may be relevant, such as pricing, location, style, and similar pictures or stories. This website appeals to me because one can mindlessly scroll through the site for pleasure and inspiration without ever running out of content to view, or one can visit the website with a specific goal in mind and accomplish it quickly. This website also strikes the perfect balance between text and image, allowing the viewer to first see more image, and then see more text only after clicking the image or seeking further detail about the image.