Like a lot of my classmates, I didn’t know what to expect when signing up for this course. I just thought it sounded different and interesting. I have found that it is extremely different than any other English course that I have taken. I enjoy applying technology to our learning process in order to better understand literature, especially since we are using methods that I never even dreamt I would be using before.
Overall, I am very proud of the body of work I have created in this course. Although sometimes I wasn’t in the mood to be creative, this class pushed me to peel away from my usual academic regimen and to become more innovative and excited about literature. I believe that each of my projects is illustrative of my personality and my interpretation of the subjects that I took on. Coming up with topics for projects as open-ended as these proved to be pretty difficult at times. However, I was able to find inspiration in all sorts of places: my friends, the media, my favorite stories, nature, etc. This class pushed me to take life a little slower and to think a little deeper about things in order to find out what statements I really wanted to make. It allowed me to be extremely creative, yet guided in what I wanted to say.
This course has challenged me to improve my writing even though it hasn’t required us to turn in formal essays or research papers. I learned how to express my feelings about works of literature, discussing their literary merit, themes, and elements. Whether it was through commenting on someone’s blog or by creating a poetry collage, the methods in the course take a different track to writing improvement. I learned how to compose my ideas in a way to complement and critique the creations of my peers. I’ve learned that writing does not have to be formal to bring about learning. It can be conversational, informal, and casual and still inspire knowledge, learning, and creativity.
The most important thing that I have learned about literature is that it can be found in numerous places that I never would have looked before. It can be found in music, sculpture, painting, and other art-forms. We broke down the different elements that make up literature and then we were able to apply it to all sorts of media. I have learned that something is literary if it conveys a message or feeling to the person that is viewing, reading, or listening to it. The power of literature is so mighty because of the broadness of its definition. I was able to take the concept of literacy and apply it to my projects in such a way that I found elements of literature in each media project I created. With the playlist, I told Kate’s story and described her character through a series of songs, taking into account their musical and lyrical components. The podcast allowed me to use my own voice along with the music of Carrie Underwood to express the literary aspects of her music. In creating both the character and poetry collages, I found that stories can be told through images, not just words. I told Kate’s story by including the most important parts of her life, and I expressed the focus of Emily Dickenson’s poem using images from nature. Lastly, the video allowed me to make a statement about society through the utilization of text, images, and music. Therefore, each method allowed me to express ideas through my own creativity and innovation, which happens to be the whole basis of something that is literary.
I love the work-in-progress feel of this course. Because of its flexible structure, I believe the learning process is enhanced because people are forced to think in different ways than before. Without the use of papers, quizzes, and tests to evaluate our performance, as a student I utilized other methods of expression that really helped me to grow as a writer, thinker, and artist. I think that out of all my classes this semester, I was able to learn the most from this course. I acquired more skills in media and technology than I ever thought I would, and learned to think about literature in a completely different way than I had in any of my previous English courses. The class has helped me to become a better communicator, not just with words, but also with music, voice, and imagery. I really appreciate the design of this course and how much it helped me grow as a person.
When we were first given the assignment to form a playlist about a favorite character of ours, I was under the impression that it was going to be extremely easy, and I wouldn’t have a problem coming up with songs to fit my character. However, my first difficulties came about when I was trying to decide on which character I was going to focus on before I even had to think about the songs. At first I wanted to choose a character from a book or short story that I had read, but I found those characters to be too shallow and one-dimensional to come up with eight different songs that would reflect their disposition and personality. That was when I decided to do a character, Kate Austen, from my favorite television show, Lost. She has such a complicated life story and so many different facets to her character that she turned out perfect for the project.
I learned a great deal about her character when doing the project. Before I even started the search for songs, I made a list of things that defined her personality and her life. Different things came to my mind that I had forgotten about her, and seeing all of these qualities together really helped me to identify with her character more deeply.
This project was a challenge because it required me to not only create a playlist of songs that I thought represented the character of Kate Austen, but it also required me to express to others why the songs felt like they fit her. This can be difficult in some circumstances where the song just feels like her, but I had to provide an explanation for this. Also, it was hard to elaborate on her life story in only a few sentences, especially because her life has been so complex. Despite these things, it turned out successfully.
Personally, I learned that even though these different songs fit the life of Kate, some of them can even extend and relate to my own life. I formed a greater appreciation and love for music because of its transitive and relatable qualities.
I only made a few revisions to my playlist because I was pretty pleased with the way the initial draft had turned out. However, I did take into account a few suggestions, and the end result includes a few more lyrical excerpts so the messages of the songs are clearer. Also, I added a little more descriptions and detail of her personal situation and feelings, so the reason for choosing the particular songs is more apparent. In the final draft of my playlist, I tried to elaborate on the musical elements of the songs and how they tied in with Kate’s character. This was a little more difficult than just simply thinking about the lyrics. I had to listen closely to the pace, sound, and volume of the different instruments and the voices of the singers in order to decipher what kinds of feelings they were conveying and how that related to Kate.
This project was very challenging and different for me. I really enjoyed dissecting and analyzing Carrie Underwood’s music. I have liked her for a really long time, and she is very popular. I have always just listened to her music, but this assignment required me to take a different perspective on her music by explaining why it can be considered literary. I learned that while we don’t always think of music as literature, it can very much be considered so. I found many parallels with Underwood’s music and what we typically regard as a work of literature such as narration, cultural allusion, and emotion.
Another challenging part of this assignment was learning to use the Audacity program. After a little while of practicing with it, though, I was able to navigate through the song clips and voice recordings until finally I had a complete podcast on my hands. I enjoyed learning to use the program, and it really made me feel accomplished to have created something so different from any project that I have done before.
I revised my initial podcast by re-cutting all of the song clips that I included in the podcast. I had to make most of them longer in order to include the music playing in the background while my voice was playing. I also tweaked the volume and fading in/fading out of the clips. I re-recorded some of my voice that was previously of bad sound quality. In the final draft of my podcast, I attempted to tighten up the second half of the recording because again, in some spots the sound quality was, and the music didn’t flow as smoothly. I tried to use the “pencil tool” in the Audacity program to fix some of the popping noises in the background. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I actually had any luck in correcting these spots. Overall, I am very proud of what I accomplished with this program. Half a year ago, I hadn’t even heard of the program Audacity, and I never thought I would know how to create something so special from it.
I think what stands out most about my project is my southern accent. You do not grow up twenty years in the foothills of North Carolina without acquiring some sort of accent. This is one of the reasons why I chose Carrie Underwood as my featured artist. I love her music, and I thought it would be easier to stick to my roots if I would have chosen a country music artist. I feel like my accent has a compliment to the showcase of Underwood’s music.
With the character and poetry collages, I learned to dig deeper into the material for imagery, messages, and symbolism. Because my character collage focused on Kate, I was forced to choose only the most important aspects of her life, such as the plane crash, her love interests, and her life as a fugitive.
I decided to make the background a picture of a gorgeous tropical island because the island is very significant in her life. This is where her plane crashes and is where she finds freedom. The show, flashing back to her life on the mainland only periodically, mostly focuses on her life while she is living on the island. I also included a picture of the plane in the sky right before it crashes because this is the whole reason for the show and this chapter of Kate’s life. The plane crash serves as a turning point in her life. As a free woman, she no longer has to run from her past. I chose an image of Kate that candidly depicts how she looks while on the island: rough, tough, and beaten up.
She is torn between the love of two men which is why I included the images of the men Sawyer (right) and Jack (left). Sawyer is closer to the foreground because he is the one who Kate outwardly expresses love for. With Jack, it is clearly evident that she loves him, but she never actually tells or shows him, so his picture is set further away, in the background. The fire burning in the middle of these images symbolizes the fiery struggle between the two men for her affection. Both men have strong feelings for her, which sometimes results in feuds between them.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Kate’s life is the fact that she is a criminal running away from the law. The handcuffs represent her bondage, on and off the island. Off the island, she is a prisoner of the state because she has killed her father. On the island, she is a prisoner of the island and its dangerous and haunting elements. I made the handcuffs the largest because this facet of her life has the most bearing on her personality and demeanor.
This assignment taught me not only to delve into these aspects of the character, but also required me to acquire a certain extent of knowledge of how to manipulate and arrange images in order to convey a coherent message to the viewer. I believe that even though most people may not know Kate’s character, they may be able to take away a few ideas that describe her from the collage, such as her struggle.
I made revisions to the first draft of my collage by first taking the handcuffs out of the fire and making them bigger and more opaque. This portrayed them as a more important piece of Kate’s life than before. Also, in order to accentuate the plane crash more, I made it bigger in the sky. I also made the image of Sawyer more opaque so that he wasn’t so sharply placed in the foreground.
What stands out to me most about the collage is its use of bright colors. I felt that the bright and vivid colors more closely depicted Kate’s character and the situation in which she is placed on the island. The bright, sunny beach and the atrocity of the burning plane in the sky provide a stark contrast that effectively conveys the conflicting nature of Kate’s life.
I enjoyed the poetry collage a little more than the character collage because I found it easier and more therapeutic than the other. I love Emily Dickinson’s poetry, so I thought I would choose one of hers that contains very vivid imagery so that I could put it into a visual form. I learned to listen closely to the underlying message that Dickinson is conveying in her poem. I found the poem to be about not just a sky or forest that will one day be brighter, but also about hope for a better tomorrow. I love this positive and uplifting message.
I first included the image of a bright, clear sky because the poem mentions one that is “ever serene” and “fair.” I chose an image of a dark forest and decided to fade it into the picture of the bright sky to depict the change from darkness to brightness. This actually happened by accident when I was messing with the “Smudge” tool. Also, the poem talks about a garden with its leaves “ever green,” so I included a picture of a bright red flower facing the sun. I situated the flower in the foreground with very sharp emphasis because the poem mentions the other garden as having “unfading flowers.” I felt that the contrast between the crystal-clear image of the flower and the fading forest very closely illustrated the visual imagery of Dickinson’s poem.
I was very pleased with how the first version of this collage turned out. However, I did add some text to the bottom left corner to provide it with a more definitive visual statement about the poem when I made my first revision. With the second revision, I sought to mask out the rough edge between the black and white fading trees and the sky. I used the blending tool to make this edge less abrupt and more like it was really melting into the sky.
The thing that stands out most to me about the collage is the flower itself. Its strong, bright, and stark presence depicts the whole meaning of the poem. It symbolizes the hope that is on the other side away from the darkness of the forest.
Out of all the projects we created this year, the video to me was the most challenging, exciting, and fulfilling. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed. I had barely even heard of the movie maker program. I knew nothing about creating videos, except those that you record from a camera. And finding a topic to cover was an ordeal in itself.
Deciding on my topic took almost as much time as composing the actual video. I went back and forth between themes and watched other sample videos for inspiration. Finally, I was talking with my suitemate about the project and about how stumped I was. She told me to think about the things that interest me most. She mentioned how I love girly things like beauty, make-up, and magazines. Finally, it dawned on me, and I had the perfect idea. I wanted to cover the way body image has evolved over time and how our obsession with it today has reached new heights. I decided to incorporate a piece at the end about how this sentiment should change and how we should be more accepting of everyone, regardless of their outward appearance.
The actual mechanics of piecing together the images, music, and motion picture was very time consuming. I spent hours searching for images and making sure I had sources for each of them. My credits are pretty lengthy at the end of the video because I found so many different images. I used Audacity to compose the musical elements of the video, and I was really happy with the amount of songs that I found that really fit my topic perfectly. Songs like “Unpretty” and “Beautiful” were very useful in helping me convey my message. The hardest part about the music was making sure the clips were trimmed up, fading in and out nicely, and within the boundaries of copyright laws. I imported the audio I created from Audacity and laid it over the images that I had already put into sequence. Then, I adjusted the time between images, added text slides, and inserted a few transitions between slides.
With my revision of the video, I decided to take the advice of my peers, so I added a runway clip in the middle. It added movement to the still-picture reel and took the message to a whole new level. I wasn’t really pleased with the runway music because it sounds like Scottish bagpipes, so I was a little worried about how it might flow with the rest of my music. I tried to tie in the music by mentioning that the “body image craze” isn’t just something happening in our country, but it has also reached many other cultures and peoples around the world. I think the runway clip turned out to fit in nicely with the rest of the video. I edited the text on some of the images by first creating them in the Gimp program and then importing them into the Movie Maker program. This way they were a little more legible. I made a few more adjustments with the timing of some of the images because some had mentioned that some of the images were flashing by too quickly. I hope that I was able to fix this problem. One of the hardest things about creating the video was the fact that I had seen the images and I knew what each text sample said, so it was difficult to gauge whether or not I was giving enough time to each slide.
I learned a great deal from creating this video. Not only did I learn the actual mechanics of creating a slideshow with music, but my choice of topic allowed me to think deeply about myself and my own life. I am definitely not exempt from the “body image craze.” Everyone at some point in their lives worries about their outward appearance. It’s our nature as humans to want to look great and appeal to others. The message that I wanted to portray, however, was that this mentality can be taken to an unhealthy level. It becomes unhealthy when we refuse to accept others because of their appearance, and when we begin to hate ourselves because of the way we look. With the creation of this video, I hope that I could shed some light on the subject and maybe make a difference in people’s perceptions of others. Overall, I am pretty pleased with the way that it turned out.
This last project of the semester really was a great way to pool all the knowledge and resources of each group member in order to create a fun and creative final product. In the group project, we used every skill we learned throughout the semester to compile a media book that included podcasts, audio clips, video clips, images, and text to provide a thorough background of the Cinderella story. I had a really great time working with the girls in my group because we all were full of ideas, and it was fun to create a project based on something that we all once loved as children, the Cinderella story.
Our group worked really well together, and each member contributed their own strengths, ideas, and interpretations to the project that really allowed the final product to turn out well. Although we had to spend a significant amount of time outside of class working on specific parts of the project, I think we worked fairly efficiently. Although we had a few technical problems with Sophie and weren’t able to completely polish the final product, I think our project turned out really nicely.
I have to admit that it was extremely challenging for me to keep up with my weekly postings on our class blog. Although I would visit our class website almost daily, my amount of actual postings doesn’t reflect this. One of the things I love most about this class was getting to see the artwork that my classmates have created. It was pretty entertaining to be able to sign onto the website and see the creativity and innovations that was displayed in the work of my fellow classmates. We had a really diverse and talented group of people in this class, and it was entertaining to see how many different interpretations resulted from each assignment. Also, being able to see their work and their thoughts help to answer some of my own questions that I may have had throughout the course. Also, I loved the helpful critiquing of each others’ work that took place. It was really helpful for me in all of my projects to hear the feedback from others and apply it when making revisions. Overall, I believe it greatly improved the quality of my work. I think the fact that people are communicating and ideas are being shared makes for a really rich learning environment.
(Kate Character Collage)
Beach scene: http://blinds-wallpaper.net/images/murals/8-240_BEACH_lg.jpg
Plane Crash: http://www.thetailsection.com/ScreenCaps/lost.3x01.003.jpg
(Dickinson Poetry Collage)
Sunny sky: http://www.aphoenix.ca/photoblog/photos/SunnySkies.jpg
Dark forest: http://www.strw.leidenuniv.nl/~ruvisser/nmo/images/foggy_forest_2_1024.j...