Reflection: The playlist assignment was one of my favorite assignments. I just love music and this assignment allowed furthering my passion about music by trying to associate music with literature. It was very interesting and challenging to figure out a way to depict someone’s state of mind through music alone. Initially, my biggest issue with this project was trying to determine what character I wanted to choose. There are so many great characters and personalities in literature that it was very hard to make up my mind. I chose the fascinating character of Mrs. Mallard because I felt that she had a very intense intrinsic world and even though the story was very short her character went through some amazing transformations. I have read “The story of an Hour” about 10 times before I even began thinking of songs for the playlist. After reading the story I spent some time and created an outline of the emotional changes that the character was going through in the story. Beginning with the weak heart, going through the unusual reaction, seclusion in the room, some meditation and the feeling of freedom she finally got to the state if the immense shock of seeing her husband alive. After that I spent a lot of time reviewing all of the music on my computer and trying to find songs that depicted the particular state of mind in a particular stage. At the same time I had to figure out if each song would work for the state of mind. In addition I decided not to use the entire songs or video clips from Youtube. I found the songs I needed for the playlist, converted them to MP3 and then cut only the part that was relevant to the characters emotional state. I think that this way of approaching the assignment would not create any questions about copyright laws. For the midterm revision I looked over the playlist and it still looked perfect to me. After the midterm it was brought to my attention that I had not given enough info on the stages of emotional evolution that Mrs. Mallard was going through. For my final revision I went back and added reason for why I thought there were so many and what the specific stages were. At the same time I eliminated one of the stages because I thought that I was splitting hairs. When regarding the final product I am pretty confident about being accurate in my choice of the music for Mrs. Mallard taking into consideration the emotional stages that she went through in the story. This assignment really helped me create a different view on short stories and the depth of characters that seem to be somewhat plain at first sight.
Reflection: I thought it was very creative and interesting to depict a character through a collage. This was my first encounter with creating a collage. I have had some experience in Adobe Photoshop earlier but I never used my knowledge in creating something literary. I used to tweak images and do some work with design. Working on an actual collage that required some artistic and creative skills seemed like an interesting challenge. The transition to GIMP was not very hard but there are differences between the processes I was used to and the ones used in GIMP. Creating the collages and playing around with all the possibilities was very time consuming. I tend to never be content with what I do, so it was really difficult to stop adding or removing things from the collage. The assignment overall was a lot of fun. Again, as with the playlist assignment it took me a lot of time to figure out what character I wanted to focus on. After some consideration I thought it would be fairly easy to do a collage on James Bond. As you understand I was very wrong. The complexity of his character and moral and behavioral traits is simply overwhelming. The collage should have contained so many things that it seemed impossible to fit them all on one collage. I thought about how I wanted to organize the collage and identified the dimensions according to which I was going to depict James Bond. Then, I decided to have one representing object of the dimension and add it to the collage. The dimensions I came up with were: weapon, gadget, cars, women, drinks, gambling, clothing, habits and manners. After that I just found the best possible object to represent Bond on the collage and combined them all. My initial collage was very crowded. The following alternatives dealt with the idea of including the James Bond Character as a legacy or just trying to put a face on the character. The alternatives also include different versions of organizing the collages. At the same time I chose to make the collage in grayscale so that it shows that James Bond is classic. The individual elements were framed to show that Bond plays by the rules and that he is fairly conservative and gentlemen-like. The final collage was a variation of the initial ones but I think the revision made it the way I intended it to be from the beginning. I kept the aspects of the original collage, but did consider the recommendations I received. During the revision I added some smaller pictures and gave a more accurate representation of both Bond's behavioral and moral traits. I also played around with the opacity and size of some pictures creating a difference in how much particular traits influence his overall persona. This assignment fostered deep character analysis. It also helped find the dimensions that a character has and his complexity. At the same time it improved my skills in working with images.
Initial Character Collage: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/128
Alternative Character Collage 1: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/243
Alternative Character Collage 2: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/244
Alternative Character Collage 3: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/245
Final version of the Character Collage: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/129
Reflection: This assignment struck me as very hard at the beginning. I wasn’t sure I could accomplish visual representation of a literary work as a whole. At the same time I don’t really like poetry so I had to experience something new. I had the hardest time picking a poem, since I have never studied English poems. With a little help from my ex-girlfriend I found an English translation for a good Russian poem. I chose this poem because it made a lot of sense to me. In my opinion the story about The Sail parallels human life. The poem was kind of straight forward at the first sight. I didn’t quite know how to depict it. I really thought the initial background would be a good representation of the poem. I found the background in an encyclopedia. Once I started the collage I kept analyzing the poem and finally noticed some dynamics. The fact that the Sail was striving for something created the opportunity for me to add on the background and create a story. I didn’t quite enjoy finding the right pictures, but was very interested in playing around with different sizes, color scales, and opacities of objects. The original collage was very bad, but I was still experimenting at that time. I think there is nothing like failure to boost someone’s determination and make them strive for the best. The initial try was overcrowded and the color scheme was inappropriate. After some consideration my revision consisted of re-doing the entire collage. I found the perfect picture for the background and made it look golden. This color played a great role in the collage. Later I added the smaller pictures of other sails around, showing the dynamics and how the initial Sail strives for movement. The smaller pictures were ships in storms and waters with high wave and represented the state that the initial Sail wanted to be in. For the final revision I added some transparency to the smaller pictures as if showing that they are not real but something in mind. In addition I think adding the test of the poem to the collage was a good idea. The readers can read the poem and get an instant visual of what the author meant. This assignment taught me how to analyze poems and look for the meaning in between the lines. It also helped with visualizing what the author had in mind.
Initial Poem Collage: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/130
First Revision Poem Collage: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/247
Final Revision Poem Collage: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/131
The Yellow Wallpaper Annotations:
Reflection: I really liked doing annotation to the Yellow Wallpaper because initially I had no idea about the depth of this story. I never thought that such a short story can contain so much information and so much meaning. I loved the “The Yellow Paper” story, because under the surface some very controversial issues were discussed about the injustices towards women in the past. This assignment helped show that if no serious thought is put in every story that we read, we might overlook important information that the author wanted to convey. It was very complex and contained at least one very complex character that was developing throughout the story. This assignment was very helpful in developing my analytical, communication, and writing skills. It also fostered looking deep into a story and analyzing its themes, symbols, and characters. I think the assignment got everyone involved in analyzing the story in an equal manner both in participation and discussion. This helped share ideas, but most of all see what other people think about the same issues. In addition to all the videos we watched adding notes about the story and reading what other people had to say helped me greatly in understanding the story. The assignment also encouraged research on specific aspects of the story that helped relate it to the times it was write in and the issues that were prominent at that time. The research also showed the authors past and political views on the issues. The main character was more than just an insane woman; she represented all the oppressed and silenced women of that time. One of the main discussions was the fact that psychological issues were not treated at that time and the fact of hiding a member of the family from the outside world because of shame. One of the down sides of this project was the fact that the easiest comments possible were made first and a lot of times people had already said what I wanted to add. On the other hand this encouraged me to come up with something that no one else had thought of. I think this was a great project and I contributed accordingly to it.
The Yellow Wallpaper Links:
Reflection: This assignment was a really good experience with Windows Movie Maker. It was fun, educational, and fostering thought. At the beginning I thought the video would be easy to accomplish. After some consideration on the topic and the quality of the video that I wanted, I understood that it would be time consuming and it would require me to generate some good ideas. Movie Maker was really easy to understand and assemble videos. My original video took a very long time, because I had to find more than a hundred pictures and had to add the title to every single picture. The process of adding the pictures to the video, creating titles and coordinating the music was very time consuming. The worst thing is that when I finished it, I understood that I hated it. I didn’t even want to post it. For the revision I created a different video on a whole different topic. This topic was much more literary and more interesting altogether. The revised video is on the “Evolution of Jazz”. It basically shoes how Jazz came about and shows the types of Jazz and Jazz musicians that were prominent in the past. My video contains dynamic images, frames with text explaining the story and videos of musicians. At the same time I focused on the most prominent artists in the type of Jazz I depicted. The songs that play in the video correspond to the era of Jazz that the visual images describe. I used effects on all the still frames and had transitions among all the non text frames. The text frames are black with white writing and they fade in and fade out every time. I kept this pattern because I think it creates a feel of authenticity. For the final revision I extended the time of some text slides, I tweaked the musical transitions and rectified the 2 spelling errors that my friends found while watching my video. At the same time it was very interesting to see what other students came up with. I think this assignment was very helpful and valuable because it allowed a free topic and let every student show his imagination and skills.
Reflection: Working in groups is always challenging. Working on a literary piece of work in a group with every person’s perspective is even more challenging. Good thing I like a challenge. This assignment was different because it required coordination with other students on one project. It also helped go back and refresh my memory about the stories from the beginning of the semester. At the same time the value that this assignment gave was the fact that we got to explore themes across stories, and not themes within one particular story. This allowed me to see a pattern or a trend in the writing of a specific time period and how one specific theme could be witnessed in many stories with minor differences. My group focused on three themes in two stories. The stories were “The story of an Hour” and “A rose for Emily”. The themes we explored were the theme of death, seclusion, and male dominance in the 1900’s span. This assignment fostered a lot of idea sharing and delegating. We approached the problem in the following manner. Initially each member picked 2 stories out of the semester and came up with the present themes, characters, and settings. After sharing all the information we observed which stories shared the same themes and we went with those. When we figured out the stories and the themes we divided the themes and stories among group members. At the same time in the Podcast every member would add to what the required members said. I think my group did a great job of exploring very deeply the themes in both stories and keeping a conversational tone at the same time. Even though this was not very different from individual podcasts it was much more interesting and fostered even more sharing ideas and helping each other.
Group Podcast: http://www.teachmix.com/itsfiction/?q=node/205
Comments and Blogs:
Reflection: I thought we did a very good job about discussing the stories in class with podcasts, chats, videos, and discussions. It was really hard to go home and make blog postings about something that we have extensively explored in class. I decided to focus on commenting about other students’ work. I always encouraged them and provided them with constructive criticism. I definitely looked at all the new posting and the additions to the image galleries, and commented where I thought necessary. At the same time I feel I was very active in class when discussing stories and tried to provide a different perspective. Commenting on people’s work I found the weaknesses in my own and made the necessary adjustments. Even thought I haven’t participated in the blogging experience extensively I think I was fairly active on the course of the semester.
Comments and Blog:
My midterm summarizes all the work that I have done for the class in the first half of the semester. The portfolio depicts all the interesting projects that I have been exposed to with the help of our literature class. The class is innovative and fulfills more goals at the same time. The methods of teaching help us learn fiction in a new, fun way. When I signed up for the course I expected to do a lot of reading and writing the reflections in long, frequent, and boring papers. The tasks that we did so far, made the subject matter a lot more interesting, and helped retain information about literature for a longer period. The portfolio also encompasses the knowledge about using graphics software, media files, and the HTML writing language. Overall the portfolio is a great tool to show all of the work, step back and reflect on it, seeing the progression as time passed. It also facilitates remembering what we have done in class in the beginning of the semester. The blog aspect of the class was very helpful in aspect of receiving comments from other students and sharing ideas and different views. The proposed assignments have really developed me as a writer because they are not the writing assignment in typical English classes. The podcast assignments for each week helped me stay on track with the readings and when I was called out I had the opportunity to share ideas that I otherwise would have not. The individual assignments help improve my regard of literature and literary writing. Generally I have had problems being creative in writing but the collages, playlist and video allowed me to be creative in a literary environment without actually writing something. So far I have enjoyed the relaxed and discussion style of the class.
This English class was different from the usual English classes and definitely a lot more interesting. It challenged me both in terms of fiction, creativity and some technological issues. I have completed tasks and projects that I will never probably do in my life. I am a business major and I really like computations and numbers. I have always had trouble with creative projects. I think the collages, playlist, podcast and video brought out my creative side and made me think critically about the literary pieces we read in the class. Since the class had a different format I enjoyed spending time on more creative assignments. I was a little hesitant and embarrassed to share the more creative projects. But with time, that changed and I had no problem with the public aspect of the class and even shared the links with friends. The fact that everyone could see the work only fostered constructive criticism and helped see other people’s work and their views on different things. The entire experience helped me become more exposed and create different views on various controversial subjects.
The property of the portfolio that you can view a summary of your entire work for the semester helps see how far a person has come and how they have evolved. This property helped me realize that I have learned much and have come a long way from the beginning of the semester. At the same time it foster continuous revision to previous projects and I think this made my final product a lot better. I have made changes to all of the assignment and tried to keep close to what I originally intended. In some cases I decided to redo the entire assignment because I was not content with the result I got. The assignments also helped me with character analysis, themes identification, and identifying ideas that the author intended the reader to grasp. At the same time the projects helped students like me express their thoughts in new, interesting, and creative ways.
The course has a great selection of stories and I think the curriculum is very well developed. The length of the stories is rather short and aid students to better understand the objects of the course. The stories were rather interesting and struck me as very simple at first. Later after some discussions I understood that my comprehension of the stories was far from full. The class discussions revealed the multiple layers and themes within the stories. The podcasts together with discussions answered many of the questions I initially had after reading the stories. I think the professor did a great job about tailoring the required time to specific stories. I enjoyed that we had at least one story that we analyzed thoroughly and now I know the required criteria and dimensions to analyze a story. Overall the course is very well planned and the technology aids the students in understanding the topics, sharing ideas, and developing creative projects. I enjoyed all the aspects of the course and I am happy that I took this section of the class.