On to the fun part!

After deeply researching about the rising movement of Slow Fashion, I have learned an immense amount about how much has changed since the last time that I explored this topic in 2012. There are so many popular brands that have begun to become more sustainable, and reading about the changes they are making got me extremely excited to educate Michigan students on this “eco-friendly” trend.

So far, my project is still in its “planning” and “outlining” stages as I have roughly decided how I want to organize my SHIFT issue. I am planning to begin the magazine with various student interviews. However, I am struggling to begin the writing process itself because I am unsure about what it is I want to ask the students. I know that my main goal is to discover whether or not they are educated on the Slow Fashion Movement, what their routines and habits are in terms of consumption, and how willing they would be to make changes in how they consume clothing. But I am unsure on what questions I specifically want to ask to find these answers out.

Following the student interviews, I want to include an informative piece about why the current pace of fashion is harmful to workers and the environment as well as why Slow Fashion is the only solution to this problem. Then, I am planning to include a few articles about popular brands that college students can shop at to stay “fashionable” and “sustainable”. The two brands that have intrigued me the most in my research have been Zady and Reformation.

Once I complete the interview process, I will have all of the information that I need to complete this digital magazine. It is just the putting it all together that needs to happen (aka, the fun part)!

 

Am I funny yet?

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.10.43 AM
Sneak Peek of My Dad as a Comic Character

I feel like I’ve got a pretty good start on my project 2. I have, in fact, decided to go with the comic strip idea. So far, I’ve created about four comic strips with my dad as the main character (an ordinary hero). The general idea of all the the strips is that I am basically making fun of the fact that my dad has to deal with raising three girls. As the only male in a houseful of women, my sisters, mother and I also make the joke, “poor dad.” So I figure this project would be a good way to show my dad, in a comical way, that we really do appreciate all the things he does for us.

As far as things I am worried about and questions I have…

First of all, I am worried that the content of the comics won’t be funny to my readers because they aren’t in my position. Also, I’m not sure how many different comic strips I should make in total.

Second, I am writing a piece to go along with the comics that sort of explains my idea (as I did above) and I’m not sure exactly what I should and shouldn’t include in that additional piece.

Proposal 2.0

In reviewing what I’ve developed for Project 2, it seems that my thoughts have, in typical fashion, carried me away from my original idea. As such, I’ve decided to refocus my ideas and develop this “Proposal 2.0.”

I originally planned to write a series of “snapshot” profiles on immigration with the goal of contrasting the beliefs and practices of immigrants to the United States. My vision was originally to see how our differences define us in this nation and how immigration plays into what I’ve termed “cultural drift”.

However, after taking my Professor T’s suggestion to limit to just one personal profile, I felt that this no longer fit. Specifically, I’ve decided to profile my maternal grandfather, who emigrated from Romania to Israel, and then from Israel to the United States. In the process of changing my focus, I realized that I am far more interested in similarities (or lack thereof) than in differences among Americans. Specifically, my writing has caused my project to evolve towards the questions of ‘What is American-ness?’ and ‘Is assimilation a myth?’

My “new and improved” Project 2 is still going to be a mid-length profile on my grandfather focusing on his experience as an immigrant. However, rather than focus on differences in political and social attitudes, the focus is now more centered on the concept of American-ness and becoming an American.

For this newly oriented piece, I’ve come up with two sets of goals. The first set is research goals, which are the main areas in which I hope to “stretch” my writing expertise through research. These goals are as follows:

  • What is a “profile”?
  • What does writing about immigration typically look for/include?
  • What is entelechy?
  • Historical background research.

The second set is thematic goals, which encompass the main ideas I hope to include in the profile. These goals are as follows:

  • What is “American-ness”? Is assimilation a myth?
  • How are Americans similar and different? Discuss “cultural drift”
  • Balance of “personal” and “systematic” in immigration/assimilation
  • Does entelechy apply to culture?

By focusing on these specific goals, I hope to create a profile that is both in line with “profile” genre conventions, as well as powerful in content.

My target audience will remain the same: readers of a high-profile, notably cultural, and often controversial magazine, much like The New Yorker. It will follow the genre conventions of a “profile,” much like this one or this one. These profiles both tell the stories of individuals in the context of a specific accomplishment/occupation/characteristic, while keeping a tone that is both investigative and personal; they really tell you who the profiled individual is and how they are, beyond what a biography of the individual would provide.

In thinking about this new idea, I realized that this is an theme that I am strongly connected to and that features in various ways in multiple pieces of writing I’ve done in the past; this topic is rather central to the paper on generational entelechy I settled on for this repurposing project, but it is also strongly related to another piece I considered stretching for this project (the one discussed third in my blog post).

Clearly this has been a lengthy process for me, but I think I’ve finally figured out exactly what kind of a statement I want to make with this project. I strongly believe that the changes I’ve made to my Project 2 will make it more rewarding and impactful both to write and to read.

 

Who knew research could be done without a database?

As part of my early research for Project 2, I read an article published in the New York Times entitled, “My Life as and Undocumented Immigrant.” This is a personal essay by Jose Antonio Vargas, an accomplished journalist who happens to be an undocumented immigrant. He tells the story of coming to America as a child, growing up as an American and keeping his citizenry a secret, and ultimately going to college and becoming very successful – all the while living in fear that he will be found out.

I strongly believe that this piece, and others like it, will heavily influence my work through their focus on perspective. I found this piece to be very powerful in that it gives us a personal story of what it means to be a foreigner in this country. Adding a face to the narrative really makes it personally touching (I’ve included a picture of Vargas in this post). Furthermore, the goals of this piece seem to be in line with my own – shedding light on immigration in the context of culture by exposing the people who are really affected.

One way that this differs from my goals is that it focuses on illegal immigration, whereas I am leaning towards a focus of lawful entry into this country. While I empathize with the motives of some illegal immigrants, I’m not sure that I’m in a position to comment on their integrity or their right to be in this country.

 

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Jose Antonio Vargas. This is the photo that appeared with his personal essay.

I Can Do This, But How?

For Project II, I have decided to take the notes I have about my grandma’s life and turn them into a mini-biography. As part of my initial research, I looked back at Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Both tell  biography-esque stories; the former is what Maya considered to be autobiographical fiction (if I remember correctly) and the latter is a fictional epistolary novel, which is a thought I have thrown around in considering this project. On top of those books, I also retrieved some documents containing dates and names of my grandma’s family members that could come in handy (possibly).

FamilyRecord
A page from my great grandma’s funeral guest book.

 

I’ve been considering what T and others brought up in class last week when I spoke about choosing this topic for the project. It was mentioned that biographies are oftentimes written about famous people or people who have had extraordinary lives. So the question presents itself: who would want to read about a person if they’re not famous; if they’re not a relative; if they didn’t survive the Holocaust or some other historical horror; if they’re sphere of impact isn’t global, or national, or statewide, or even citywide? I consider these things, but also look to other biographical works and see that it has been done, and done successfully. The two aforementioned novels, even, were successful at accomplishing this. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Maya Angelou’s first novel, thus nobody knew who she was when it was first published. Of course she became very famous because of it and her other works later on, though. The Color Purple, while not exactly a biography, nonetheless details the fictional life of Celie, an African American woman growing up in the South, through letters that she writes to God and her sister Nettie.

I’m not saying I can write something that even comes close to the level of those two novels, but that I think I can write something that will be interesting and that people would want to read, even though they have no idea who my grandma is. I don’t know what form this will take yet, but I’m sure about the idea. An epistolary manner would make it quite fictional with some real facts thrown in here and there. Traditional biography style would be closer to reality, or at least the reality I can gather. I still have much to consider.

A Look At Buzzfeed

One part of my early research for Project II has been examining the construction of Buzzfeed articles.  I have basically narrowed down Buzzfeed posts into two categories: articles that come in list form and then classic informative articles. I think that the list format of Buzzfeed articles is very effective. For most of the numbered list posts, there is text as well as a GIF or image accompanying it. Each list varies in length, so I would be able to tailor my article based on how much information I want to include.

A specific post I came across is “13 Things “Hocus Pocus” Taught Us About Having a Healthy Social Life.” I think this post is something I want to try and emulate with my piece. Each reason listed clearly relates back to the movie, but is also generalizable enough that someone who has not seen the movie would understand the point the article is attempting to make. I think that this will be important when constructing my Buzzfeed article. I want my audience to be able to understand what I am talking about even if they are not die- hard Gilmore Girls fans. I’m looking forward to seeing where this project will take me and what other research will come up along the way!

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 9.31.31 PMA screenshot of the title of a list format Buzzfeed post

 

Super Dad

Well well well, look what we have here. Project 2 creeping around the corner. After finally deciding on what piece I wanted to work with and how I wanted to repurpose it, I started doing a little informal internet research on my new media. In case you didn’t know my plan, I have decided to take an old essay I wrote back in middle school about my dad being my hero and I am going to repurpose it into some sort of comic strip. With my dad, aka super dad, as the main character/hero of the comic (super dad), this idea sounded fun, new and interesting to me. I started with some cliche google searches such as, “How to write a comic strip” and “writing a comic strip.”

Peanuts in super hero costumes…could this picture get any better? No.

These two simple searches proved to bring up a whirlwind of even more questions for me. I found a couple wiki pages about how to write comics strips and they were somewhat helpful. They even included pictures as an aid to their advice. Aside from that, my research hasn’t quite extended into more scholarly pieces quite yet. I’m still taking a look at the informal pieces, as I think writing a comic is a more informal writing media.

I look forward to seeing where this project takes me because it is unlike any piece of writing I have ever done before.

A Grateful Mindset

Sometimes when I hear a new project prompt I get excited as an idea immediately pops into my head and I think of an infinite  amount of ways to knock it out of the park.  I pretty much feel like the Babe Ruth of project ideas in that moment.

Other times I find myself sitting dumbfounded in front of a blank word document telling myself, “Okay, Amanda, just write something.”

For “Project 2 – Repurposing an Argument” I interestingly found myself somewhere in between these two extremes.  I immediately knew what pieces of writing I wanted to use and what my theme was going to be.  The issue was that I could not make up my mind as to what avenue would be best for presenting the information.  In fact, I still feel a little lost.

These are the two pieces of writing I am working with:

  1. The first piece consists of various journal entries I wrote reflecting back on childhood experiences that I am grateful for.  These experiences range from a time I got into an accident to reflecting on a holiday with my family.
  2. The second piece is very different since it is a series of letters that I wrote.  Some were written with the intent of thanking those close to me.  Others were written in a more apologetic tone; something I have discovered through gratitude is that addressing the “bad” only benefits in the long run since you are able to focus more on the good times in the future.  In my experience, I have learned that no one really likes to hold a grudge.  Unless you’re the Grinch.  But even his heart grew by the end of the movie – see, gratitude can help! (Perfect segue into Amanda talking endlessly about the health benefits of gratitude).

My goal is to turn these pieces into a magazine article for The New Yorker through the genre, new journalism.  The intended audience is for college students, but I honestly believe that this article will end up being applicable to people of all ages.  I have chosen this specific mode because it will allow me to add personal narrative to my informative article.

In my opinion, adding personal experience to research on this topic is the best way of combining my two pieces of writing.  I am interested to see what I discover through my research, but I know that I want to focus on things such as lifespan, happiness, and the impact of being grateful on those around you.

Gratitude is important and I want to share this with others because learning to be a grateful spirit early in life can only help in the long run.

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The following link is to my project proposal.  Please feel free to leave feedback!

Amanda Kemmer’s Repurposing Project Proposal

This might be harder than I thought

Well, well project two. Don’t you seem daunting. When T told us we had to pick an old piece of writing to work with for the rest of the semester I was a little nervous about the pressure to pick a good piece. Coincidentally I was going home (to New Jersey, so pretty far) and would have access to my old laptop where anything I wrote before college would be. Honestly I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do this project properly if I didn’t happen to be going home for the Jewish holiday.

I have found a few pieces that I think could be good for this project, but I still don’t know, as in don’t have any real ideas at all, how I should repurpose them. T, I hope you can help me find some inspiration.

First is a paper I wrote senior year about the recurring themes of utopia in Kurt Vonnegut stories. I used two short stories and Slaughterhouse-5 as the basis for the essay and went on to explain humankind neglects to take easy steps to cure some of society’s problems and instead attempts to go to impossible lengths to achieve perfection. Perhaps I can explore this idea further using other stories about utopia, or write something about dystopia.

Next is a speech I wrote for a class I took freshman year at Michigan, with Maya actually, called “Great Speeches: Modern and Ancient”. In this class we studied classic great speeches including the Gettysburg Address among others. We would learn about the rhetorical techniques that made the speeches effective and then researched and wrote a 10-15 minute speech of our own and presented it. I wrote mine on why the legal drinking age should be lowered to 21. While I am very happy with how it turned out, because I wrote it as a speech rather than as a more formal essay, I think it could be perfect for this project. Perhaps I could argue the other side or present my original position as an infographic (though I know nothing about creating infographics).

Last but not least is a paper I wrote in high school about which character of Julius Caesar I thought was the strongest leader. It was written before I could consider myself a really strong writer and I just think I could’ve done a more thorough job with it.

I’d love some feedback, especially from T, on which of these ideas would be best for the project.

Its all about perspective. What do you see?

For the second project, the first thing that popped into my mind to write about was my common application essay. I chose the prompt that allowed me to write a 500-word essay about whatever I wanted. At first I struggled with finding a subject and then I thought back to a time that really struck me as important in my life.

There were two initial instances where I realized that I was the only black girl in a sea of white faces. When I was in the 11th grade I went on a trip to Italy where I experienced some forms of racism for the first time (or at least the first time that I was knowledgeable enough to recognize them). It made me very uncomfortable and  no one else could relate to me because the people in Italy were not treating them the same way they were treating me.  Then we took a picture of the group and it was that day that I saw myself through eyes looking in. I was in a crowd of people who looked different than me and realized that day I was indeed a black girl.

When in Italy I found myself writing in my journal alot more than usual because I had no one to relate to. I took note of how I was treated, and observed the actions and reactions of others. When it was time to write my common app essay I knew that this would be a topic that I should expound on because it helped me to find strength and comfort in a word as lonely as only. I wrote the essay about what I really saw to be who I was. A brown girl and the only brown girl. I did not call myself black or African American, but rather I wrote about exactly what I saw, brown.

Looking back in retrospect, I see how relevant being brown was to me at that time and I also see how it has informed my decisions and involvement in my community. I am now the President of the Pretty Brown Girls Club at U of M. Not the pretty BLACK girls but the pretty BROWN girls. This is such a coincidence that I feel I was destined to talk/write about seeing color, colorism, and what those things mean when put into perspective. I am now also the only Brown girl in my major which because of my past expeience I am equipt to deal with. Race is one thing but Color is another. I want to write about color, differences and perspective. Those are all three topics that have interested me in the recent past and all come up in some form or another in my common app essay written over 2 years ago.