Anna's Final Portfolio - a work in progress.
Click on the buttons to navigate within this portfolio.
I hope that this letter will serve as a detailed introduction to the different projects I have compiled for this portfolio. This portfolio is first and foremost a testament to all the different ways I’ve learned to engage with literature. This class has been a huge learning experience in terms of technical mastery and all the possibilities technology lends to literary analysis.
As a Journalism and Mass Communication major, I have often been fascinated with multimedia and all the different ways it reaches audiences. But I never thought that as an English minor, I would be doing the same.
On the first day of class, we were posed with a question: How can we save English studies? I hope that the four projects I have worked on so far demonstrate new mediums and possibilities for engaging in English studies. I can only speak for myself, but it has been more rewarding than many of my previous English classes in many ways.
Not only did I practice the traditional skills necessary for an English class — critical analysis and writing — I learned new skills like audio editing, picture editing and HTML coding. I also felt like there was more interaction between myself and my peers. Everybody was creating and everybody was introducing new ideas in new ways. And on top of all that, everybody was very enthusiastic.
I have learned that maybe English studies shouldn’t simply be confined to text or even language. In fact, I learned that English may be a much more versatile and changing study than I had ever considered. These conclusions made strive harder to produce improved results and hopefully my current, and final, portfolio will also serve as a testament to that.
Simply click on the links to view the projects. I've also included navigation via the buttons above.
The playlist was a valuable first project because it laid the necessary technical groundwork by exposing us to HTML and the Web site. But more importantly, I think it introduced the thrust of the entire class — encouraging a new approach to literature through creativity.
For my playlist I picked The Snows of Kilimanjaro, a short story by Hemingway that I had never analyzed in another English class. I also used the short story for my image collage, which I will later go into further detail. But that is all to say that I learned to look at the short in story in ways that I never would have done so in the confines in most classrooms.
I started off with rereading and revisiting the story, trying to find what narrative I could add through music. Initially it was very difficult for me to boil down Hemingway’s short story into other people’s music and lyrics. I was forced to simultaneously analyze the story and the music, something I had never really done before. Despite these difficulties, I was able to narrow down my playlist to eight tracks that trace the trajectory of the main character’s emotional development.
The next obstacle I had to tackle was the presentation of the playlist. I learned how to manipulate HTML coding to present my playlist in a clear accessible manner. I chose to create an iTunes playlist at the top of my Web site followed by subsections dedicated to each song selection. In each section I tried to incorporate the lyrics, the music and the plot into a cohesive analysis.
In my revisions, Dan encouraged me to diversify the way I structured my analysis. When I revisited my playlist, I saw that my subsections were very formulaic: lyrics, analysis, story excerpt, more analysis. I moved around my excerpts, leading some subsections with the excerpt and finishing the entire playlist on the final lines of the short story.
First Draft Podcast
The Podcast was by far the most time consuming but rewarding projects of the class. I picked the Music Genome Project as the topic of my podcast because I find the entire project really interesting.
I ran into a lot of problems from the get go, just trying to structure my essay and incorporating music, my tracks and interview tracks together in a clear way. I also was dealing with all the technical aspects of Audacity and learning how to use that program.
I spent a lot of time recording and rerecording to try and match my voicetracks, and eliminate echo. I was generally satisfied with my first version of the podcast, more from a content standpoint than a technical standpoint. As many of my classmates and Dan pointed out, there were times when the music overwhelmed the voicetracks.
Unfortunately, I lost my flashdrive, which had all my tracks and clips on it. So in making my revision, i had to rerecord everything. However I was much happier with it from a technical standpoint, though I think there is still room for improvement in terms of content.
This podcast assignment was also the most eyeopening. It made me look at crafting an argument and presenting analysis in a whole new way. Using music and voice gave it a certain depth that I think you cannot achieve on paper with words. Of course it also had its limitations, in terms of time and pacing, but it was very liberating in other ways.
When considering the question, "How can we save English studies?" I think this project serves as a great example of taking a traditional assignment and giving it a whole new medium and approach.
I picked the Snows of Kilimanjaro as the subject of my collage, which I also used as the subject of my playlist. I was particularly interested in seeing how the same subject matter would come across differently in a playlist and an image.
There were a few motifs that I definitely wanted to include. I wanted to include a hand in the act of writing, the mountains of Kilimanjaro and different images representing Harry's memories.
I began with this collage, which is predominantly focused on a picture of the mountains of Kilimanjaro which are topped off with the quote "Now he would never write all the things he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well."
I wanted to incorporate the quote because I believe it sums up the thrust of the entire short story. It also served to break up the lower half with the upper half.
However in revisiting my collage, Dan helped me realize that the collage overall was very vertically symmetrical. The text also only helped in establishing that sense of symmetry by breaking it up horizontally as well.
In my revised collage, I moved the quote above, and worked with some of the upper elements. Whereas they had originally broken up the space into pretty even thirds, I tried to give one memory more room and some less.
I tried to give the upper images more emphasis by lessening their opacity and making them darker. I also worked with using contrast to help bring emphasis to those images. I also had to use different images because some of the images from my old collage were taken off the Web sites.
Dan mentioned how the picture of the stairs brought depth to the image, and I agreed. I decided to make that a more dominant image, by darkening it and adding more of that image into the collage. I also embedded text to represent all the stories he regrets not committing to paper.
I was excited about the chance to work with Photoshop and it helped me look at the story in a new way. Much like an essay, I had to choose what elements were key in conveying the message of the story. But unique to the project was the chance to bring in aesthetic elements like line, color, balance and size to do convey the meanings in the story.
This was by far one of the mots difficult projects for me. Technically, I ran into so many problems and glitches. In fact, I still haven't worked them all out.
I made my original video in Final Cut Pro but had problems putting the video into one whole cohesive whole with the audio and video without problems. So i moved the entire file to Camstudio, only to find that I cannot render it successfully.
In terms of it's aims and goals, I thought it was one of the more effective ways of challenging me as a English student. I took the audio to Rocky and set it to parts of The Lion King because I thought it had similar stories of protagonists who have all the potential in the world, but choose to take a path that doesn't live up to it. They come back for redemption and ultimately achieve it.
Just like a paper or other English project, I had to identify the key themes and important scenes and audio. Thus I went through multiple videos and audio clips from Rocky to find the ones that were completely necessary to deliver the message of the mashup.
I think this was a fitting final project because, at least for me, it was the incorporation of many of the other skills we had learned. In wrapping up the study of how we can save English studies, I think it provided both a fun and challenging way of looking at how to convey a new idea using existing frames - something I feel many English assignments aim to do.
Writing a paper requires much of a similar kind of analysis and the ability for students to take existing ideas and form their own analysis on them for an audience. I don't know how effectively I was able to do this with my project, but I hope that I was able to draw those correlations.
Here I uploaded two songs, Big-Eyed Fish and The Lighthouse’s Tale, to discuss in class how music can be used to make points in a playlist.
In Response to “A Fortunate Fall” I replied to a thread about my opinions concerning the following statement found in the reading: “What students learn from teachers has more to do with how they teach than with what they teach.”
I commented on Olivia Murphey’s “Humbert Humbert” playlist. I liked how she organized the playlist and the amount of depth she went into for character analysis. Even though I have never read Lolita, I got a good sense of the character development throughout the novel.
I commented on John Reitz’s “A Very Wild Playlist” because I was immediately drawn to the subject of the playlist. I commented on the creativity of picking Max from Where the Wild Things Are. He had not developed much analysis at the time of my comment, so I told him how much I looked forward to seeing the playlist develop.
Here I commented on Byron’s I Heart Huckabee’s Playlist. At the time, I thought that the strength of his playlist was character analysis.
I commented on Hannah Choe’s Dr. House playlist. She was the only student that I had seen who structured her playlist around themes rather than chronological events. I was really impressed by the level of detail and analysis she included in her playlist.
I commented on Hannah Choe’s Free Bird collage. She was the first student to upload her collage, and I thought she did a great job setting the bar high. I was really impressed with the technical execution of her collage, especially when she mentioned that she did not have prior experience with the program.
Shannon’s Benjamin Button collage caught my eye immediately because of the strong focal point and the famous Dali painting in the background. I think the strength of this particular collage was the clarity of the message being conveyed.
I responded to the Favorite Photographer Assignment with a few works by Lee Friedlander and a little bit of background on him. I had never really “studied” him, I became familiar with him because my brother has a few photographs by Friedlander. I tried to look more analytically at his work and what shared a few photos that highlight what made him the acclaimed photographer he is.
I commented on a collage Sarah Katherine began from A Rose for Emily. She said it is a work in progress, but I thought it looked like it was headed in the right direction. I’m not sure exactly what the message is quite yet, but the technical execution looked really good so far.
Gabby Gioia created a collage for Forrest Gump, which really excited me because it is one of my favorite movies. I pitched a few suggestions on how to incorporate the chocolate box, an important symbol in the movie, for the collage. I suggested that maybe the entire collage should be framed by a chocolate box.
I commented on Shannon's revision of her Benjamin Button collage. She made some technical changes that helped highlight some of the main themes more clearly.
Here I commented on Amanda's final revision of the Yellow Wallpaper collage. I noted how I liked some of the elements she took out, and some of the ones she added. It looked much more cohesive as a whole.
Here I commented on the revision of Tori's collage on the Time Traveler's Wife. I was really impressed by how much smoother it looked technically.
I looked at Sarah Katherine's portfolio which was really technically sound and I liked how she had organized it. We both utilized anchor links which I think helped a lot with the navigation of her portfolio as well as mine.