Persona and Perception

I’d say the single thing that struck me the most about this piece was the idea of creating the role your reader would portray. From previous experience, I have generally never thought about this when writing. You mean I actually have to decide how my reader will read this? I like to think of writing for the most part as something for myself, the reader perceiving it however they choose. Unless it is an essay for a specific class on a particular subject, then I aim to please my instructor for the most part. The three roles described in this piece included: “Entertain Me with Something Interesting I Don’t Know,” “Help Me Understand Something Better,” or “Help Me Solve a Practical Problem.” After reading their descriptions, I definitely agreed with them. Thinking about the various readings I encounter each week, I think it is definitely clear what role I would have in them. For example, a post on Facebook I read recently off of the “Humans of New York” site was about a man whose wife had passed away ten years ago. He referred to the life he used to live with her, in reference to the old notebooks they wrote in together. I believe this could be classified into “Entertain Me with Something Interesting I Don’t Know,” role because it puts a highlight on this particular man’s life in which I was unaware of before. One thing I might disagree with in classifying readers’ roles in my own writing would be only being able to classify them as one type of reader, reading for one purpose. I would argue that in some articles, you could be reading to solve a practical problem, but at the same time, you could be reading information that you didn’t previously know, simultaneously enjoying it!

Another argument I could make toward the roles of both the writer and the reader regard perception. As hard as a writer may try to present his or her work in a certain light, someone else will always have a new outlook on it. But, this could be both a positive and negative experience. For example, I wrote a poem for my English 223 class, Creative Writing, about my grandmother last week. I wrote it kind of as a way for the reader to be able to envision certain moments I had with my grandma, the end kind of describing the impact she had on every person in our family and the hurt we felt when she passed. Then, I went into a conference with my professor and her take on the poem was drastically different than mine, causing me to question what my intention was in the first place! She kind of saw my work as describing all grandmothers, because she thought the moments I looked back on could have happened to anyone. My other underlying message within the poem was my desire to take on some of the phenomenal traits my grandma embodied and reflect them into my own life. Though I thought I had done this effectively, she didn’t quite catch that vibe. Positively, I really liked the ideas she gave me for my poem. Negatively, I kind of was thrown off that my poem came off as cliché and not how I wanted it to. I guess you could say that as a writer, you may decide the role of the reader, but you will have to be prepared for the reader to morph and take on your piece as more (or less) than you originally had intended.

All in all, I found this piece to really highlight some things as a writer I know I do, but I had never really thought about to a certain extent before. I really appreciated that this writer specifically pointed out that this book was written with the knowledge of us, the readers, having a certain persona that they hoped we would “comfortably adopt.” Now after reading this, I have already started to think about my audience more carefully not only for my projects, but for all the writing I do!

Or it is a song for children about the adventure of a spider…

Multimodality in the Real World

After thinking about this assignment for a few days, I guess I really began to notice the amount of texts in my life that are multimodal, which I hadn’t really been aware of before! I discovered many different texts from Instagram posts to Youtube videos and food labels to Earth science books. I was expecting to see a lot more that fulfilled all five modes of communication, but I really didn’t. It could have been that I didn’t pay close enough attention (though I really thought I was!) but there was really only one that stood out to me as having all five. Since there were well over 20 texts I examined in the last three days, I narrowed it down to three that used more than two modes to quickly talk about.

First, I discovered an Instagram post from the @umichathletics account. The picture is a close up of the football team on the field, facing the bustling student section. The student section and scoreboard above them are slightly blurred out, because one football player in the front of the picture, arm extended out with a fist clenched, is highlighted. The bottom corner of the picture reads: (block M) @UMichAthletics, to promote both their Instagram and Twitter accounts to those that view this. The caption below relates to the feeling of Michigan Football returning. The modes I noticed in this piece were linguistic for the caption and words on the picture, visual for the picture and its edit, and spatial for how close the picture was taken to the one football player in relation to the rest of the people in the picture as well as its presence online.

multi modal text football pic

 Next, one of my good friends sent me a Youtube video to watch. Titled “Til It Happens To You,” by Lady Gaga, I found this video was about the reality of sexual assault on college campuses. The video begins with a warning about the graphic content portrayed in it, yet how realistic it truly is. The video shows four different situations, all resulting in sexual assault. Lady Gaga’s song in the background includes phrases such as: “until it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.” It gives not only a visual, but auditory and textual experience for the viewer on an eye-opening subject that tends to be overlooked. This video was the one multimodal text I found that stood out to me as containing all five modes of communication. The linguistic mode is used through the word choice in the lyrics, as well as the text shown on the screen before and after the video. The visual mode was well thought out through the variety of situations in the piece, as well as the artistic choice to put it all in black and white. The aural mode is depicted through the subtle as well as striking piano notes in the piece, as well as the emphasis Lady Gaga puts on certain words in the lyrics. Spatially, the camera angles definitely had to be thought out, as well as the placement of the text in the beginning and end of the video. Lastly, the gestural mode was depicted through the body language of the sexual predators as well as victims, which was very clear throughout the entire video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmWBrN7QV6Y

Third, I noticed the text communications on the grilled chicken strips I was making for dinner one night. The bag is mostly orange, which stands out to customers in the aisle (I know it does to me at least). The label on the bag says “Just…Grilled Chicken Strips.” The chicken font size in the title is larger than the rest, to emphasize what the product is mainly made out of. The front contains a very appealing picture of the grilled chicken strips in a salad with many greens. The back includes a description of the chicken with the use of many adjectives in a cursive font. The back also contains the nutrition facts label. The bottom has heating instructions for both the stove and the microwave. The modes used in this were: linguistic, visual, and spatial.

Chicken

All three of these texts included the linguistic, visual, and spatial modes. I found that these three were actually very different types of texts, all using multimodality in a different way. Though they all had their own purpose, I think they were displayed in very unique mediums. They do come from a similar time period in that they were all either bought, read or posted this week. I really liked analyzing these pieces because I think it was very interesting how each creator of these texts really thought about the multiple modes they were utilizing to project the project’s purpose. I think it’s amazing the amount of creative freedom we have when it comes to writing, and I can’t wait to hopefully successfully use multimodality in my future projects!

Breaking Down the Authors We Love

One example of writing I would love to attempt to emulate is “Walden” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I love love love transcendentalism so much. I was first introduced to this piece by my most beloved teacher my junior year of high school. I had to read this piece as a part of our “uncovering your soul” unit. What better example could there be than this? If you aren’t familiar with this, this piece is about how Henry David Thoreau moved to a cabin in the woods for two years. He looked at this as an opportunity to experiment with his writing. I really like the structure of this piece specifically. Considering the context, Emerson was speaking as if he was talking about his life to himself. The artistic journalism in this really draws me to the piece as a whole. I found that through this he really allowed himself to dig deep into his soul in order to find his true writing voice, removed from all of the influences of society. I hope to emulate this kind of voice through my coming projects!

https://books.google.com/books?id=yiQ3AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

One example of writing I consider to be beautifully written as well as intellectually stimulating is “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. I was first introduced to this piece last year in my English 125 class. At first read I found the words kind of confusing to my brain and wasn’t sure how I really felt about it. By the end of the course, I ended up not only understanding but loving it enough to write a 12-page research paper about the ideas portrayed in it. The message, or rather the “beauty myth” told in this piece refers to the portrayal of beauty women feel pressured by not only in social media, but also by their peers and friends. The language Wolf uses in this piece is really powerful. She speaks in a more prevailing tone, letting everyone know that she is bothered by this topic and has something to say about it. Really breaking this piece down, Wolf begins with the idea that society poisons our freedom, “infused with notion of beauty is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsession, terror of aging and dreaded lost control” (2). I love how beautiful her language is in this line, but also how true it reins not only to me but most likely a large amount of the female population of this time. She continues by referring to the beauty myth and its negativity it has had and will continue to have for the rest of time. She uses this thick yet picturesque phraseology, which draws me so much to this piece. Intellectually, she really jam-packs this piece with a ton of facts. She really did her research, which I also love! If I were to be taking a more research-based focus on my project, I would definitely look to emulate her intellect. But one thing I definitely can take away from this for my own projects is the level of emotion and passion she feels about this topic. I hope to come off this strong in my piece as well!

http://www.alaalsayid.com/ebooks/The-Beauty-Myth-Naomi-Wolf.pdf

Authenticity

One idea that really resonated with me while reading Lynn Hunt’s “How Writing Leads to Thinking” was how “writing requires an unending effort at something resembling authenticity.” What struck me the most about this particular idea was the word “resembling” when referring to the originality and creativity I believe every writer strives for when creating something from a blank page or screen. I find it comforting knowing that she as well as many other writers struggle to find that particular touch, that creativity that ultimately gives us the authority to call ourselves what one might define as a writer, consequently varying from all of the other writers in the world. Some writers may never find what they might call their magic touch, but for others it comes quite naturally. And this is okay, because we all face some sort of the same challenges as well as celebrations when it comes to the writing process. Another word that stands out to me specifically is “unending” because I believe that even if brilliant and inventive writing comes to you naturally, there will always be something more you can do, more you can add, and more you can ultimately learn from. What I really got out of this piece was the journey behind genuine writing is much more important and gratifying than a set point of completion. Continuing off of that, she refers to learning and growing as a writer via reading. Looking into other writer’s work and deciding what you like or maybe what you don’t like about it is so imperative and valuable to the writing process.

In relation to this course, I thinking this advice is extremely valid. I am not a big fan of reading, but ever since we talked about some of our favorite writers on day one, I have begun to notice that I do subconsciously annotate while I read and I do learn from how and why certain pieces are made. I think this will really help me to understand not only this beginning course to the Minor in Writing, but the minor as a whole. From this reading, I have concluded that one of my main goals for this minor is to be able to accept the fact that I may not ever reach what I believe to be my full, genius potential as a writer; but, as long as I am experiencing and learning from my journey, I will morph into the strong and authentic writer I know I can be proud of.