2007-08 Winner: “Picture Frame: An ENGL 121 e-Portfolio” by Ainsley Bourque
You are looking at an English 121 University of Washington student e-portfolio*; photographic evidence of progress and accomplishment in a service-learning based English class. My name is Ainsley, and I invite you take a peek as I illustrate, through a series of snapshots and portraits, what I learned in English 121 B.
This portfolio is the culminating project of an introductory level compositional English course at the UW. Taught by Jentery Sayers, English 121 B explores “Service-Learning, Sonic Culture, and Media Activism.” The course includes numerous readings focused on opening the eyes of 121 B students to the concepts and implications of speaking about, with and for. Through blogs, podcasts and class discussion my peers and I explored the writings of numerous authors, including Sarah Kozloff, Ivan Illich and Linda Marting Alcoff. Additionally, my peers and I volunteered at local Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the quarter. This community interaction allowed us to mobilize and place in a real-world context the concepts we developed and explored during the opening sequence of the course.
The primary goal of an English 121 class at the UW is to stress four different course “outcomes”. Ideally, by the end of the course my classmates and I have mastered each outcome, mobilizing them to produce writing which is effective and engaging.
The picture-perfect course outcomes are as follows:
1. “To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.”
2. “To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing. “
3. “To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts. “
4. “To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing. ”
In this portfolio, I present four pieces which I composed and revised in English 121. These pieces fulfill each of the four course outcomes outlined earlier, and demonstrate my proficiency and thorough understanding of each outcome. Additionally, each revised piece includes a brief analysis, tying my writing to the goals and projected outcomes of the course. These captions provide background information about the piece, while using evidence to demonstrate how I mobilize each of the course outcomes to develop productive pieces of writing. Though each piece engaged multiple, and often all, outcomes, I limit my unpacking of each outcome to a few snapshots from select pieces.
This portfolio includes revisions of:
Paper 1.1 (Audiography)
Paper 1.3 (Re: Soundscaping)
Major Paper 1 (A New Soundscript)
Paper 2.1 (Now Here This! (Speaking “With”))
Additional information about English 121 B can be found at the course website.
Response Paper 1.1: “Audiography”
As the initial paper written in English 121 B, Response Paper 1.1 serves an introduction of myself to my peers. The assignment contains a playlist (posted below), of sounds I am accustomed to hearing. The response paper, a letter written directly to my English 121 peers, then unpacks the playlist. I compiled my “soundtrack” in such away that it portrays my transition from a high school senior to a freshman student at the University of Washington. Response Paper 1.1 is an exercise in writing to a specific audience (my 121 peers), so I will start this portfolio with a snapshot of Outcome 1, followed by an illustration of the revision process (Outcome 4).
The playlist (essentially an audio photo of my landscape):
Distinctive Sounds of a University Student
1. “I wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)” by Sandi Thom (2:30)
2. Awkward Elevator Silence (0:41
3. “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Simon & Garfunkel (3:59)
4. Hallway Keys (0:34)
5. “Loose Lips” by Kimya Dawson- Juno (2:23)
6. Roommate’s Cell Phone Alarm (0:22 x 4)
7. “Right Through You” by Alanis Morissette (2:56)
8. “Knock ‘em Out” by Lily Allen (2:56)
9. “Ain’t No Reason” by Brett Dennen (3:42)
10. “Sticks and Safety Belts” by Cake (2:09)
11. “Anyone Else But You” by The Moldy Peaches- Juno (3:00)
12. “Revolution 1″ by The Beatles (4:16)
13. Air Hockey Game (6:42)
14. Barack Obama Iowa Caucus Victory Speech (13:40)
15. “Things Will Change” by Modwheelmood (4:11)
Outcome 1 (audience):
The target audience of this paper is my English 121 peers. Because I am writing directly to my classmates, as opposed to an academic audience, I chose a tone which was informal and relaxed. Additionally, this paper is a letter, so I address the audience using familiar terms (“you” and “we”), and write in first person. For example, the letter opens with the sentence “As all of you either currently are, or presumably were at some point, I am a first year student at the University of Washington.” Had this been a formal paper, I would not have been so presumptuous as to assume anything about my audience (let alone let them know I was assuming it). Additionally, because this is a letter, I feel my opening sentence draws my audience into the body of the letter, prompting them to read more in order to discover who I am as their classmate.
Outcome 4 (revision):
As Response Paper 1.1 was the first piece I wrote for English 121, numerous revisions were required in order to adapt my writing to its new environment. With the help of Jentery’s margin comments, I fixed minor punctuation issues while, on a macro level, expanding upon my original implementation of Outcome 2. By adding direct quotes from the playlist, as well as from the songs in the playlist, I was better able to lay out for my peers the implications of my “sound track.” For example, the addition of the the sentence, “‘Revolution 1′, the 12th song on my playlist contains the line, ‘we all wanna change the world,’ which I feel portrays both my desire to use my life to make a positive impact in the world, while implying that I realize it’s a lofty ambition shared with many of my peers,” to my 4th paragraph greatly improves the clarity and implication of the statement my playlist makes about who I am as a person.
Response Paper 1.3: “RE:Soundscaping”
Response Paper 1.3 presents the first formal academic argument of English 121. The paper is written in response to a piece written by my peer, Scott (specifically his Response Paper 1.2, which analyzes the film 300 from an auditory level, a visual level, and “as is” with both sound and visuals). In “RE:Soundscaping”, I make a complex claim for an improvement which could be made to Scott’s paper. In 1.3, I fulfill the stated goals by composing a complex claim arguing for implicating the embodiment and tone of the narrator, intertextualizing evidence from the film clip as well as previous papers written by Scott and myself, and using this evidence to solidify warrants I make in the paper. Given the goals of the paper, I feel it is appropriate to present a snapshot of my complex claim (Outcome 2) and my use of evidence in the paper (Outcome 3).
Outcome 2 (evidence):
My response paper effectively mobilizes evidence from multiple sources. By using direct quotes from Scott’s and my own 1.2 papers, I ground my paper and provide specific examples to validate warrants. By including evidence from a respected academic source (a book by Sarah Kozloff), I establish my argument’s credibility. Finally, using quotes from the film, 300, as evidence I avoid vague references and make specific suggestions which could prove helpful to Scott’s further research.
For example, in my second paragraph, I quote both an academic work and the film clip in quick succession:
“In the introduction to Invisible Storytellers, Sarah Kozloff states that, “Voice determines medium: we must hear someone speaking.” She goes on to mention that who that someone is effects the subjectivity (or “mindscreen”) of the narration. The voice in Cairns’s clip from 300 is that of a Spartan captain, which is critical. Had it been a small child whispering or an old grandmother recalling the line, “And so the boy given up for dead, returns to his people, a king… Our king, Leonidas!” could have come across as a child’s fairy tale or a weightless reminisce.”
By doing so, I map the implication of Kozloff’s Invisible Storytellers directly onto to the film. This preempts any confusion and eliminates wariness in regards to my argument the audience might experience. By directly proving my point, I clearly and concisely demonstrate that my claim is warranted.
Later in the paper, I use my own 1.2 response paper to provide evidence as to how Scott’s paper might be improved through mobilizing implications:
“Perhaps he could, in further writing, address the implications of who is narrating similarly to how I do in my own analysis of the film Moulin Rouge, where I state that, “The voice-over narration serves not only to explain what is going on in the multiple scenes in this clip from Moulin Rouge, but it also adds an additional layer on top of the what and when of the movie, a layer of emotion and personal connection.” In my analysis, I delve into the implications of the narrator’s voice and embodiment. A similar dissection of the Spartan narrator’s voice would add a relevant and interesting level to Cairns’ paper.”
By providing a concrete example of what I feel Scott should do in his paper, I avoid what could be a very vague suggestion. It is also important that, after providing the example, I unpack and implicate it, demonstrating to Scott and my academic audience that implicating the voice over narration in this manner is relevant and engaging.
Outcome 3 (claim):
The introductory paragraph of my response paper 1.3 concludes with the complex claim:
“Cairns does an excellent job canvasing most of the clip, but I feel that the paper lacks a clear analysis of the narrator’s voice. While arguments can be made for the importance of other elements within the soundtrack (for keynote sounds, such as drumbeats or the growling of a wolf, or for the importance of the narrator’s word choice, I feel that, particularly within this clip, the voice of our narrator carries a great weight. The physical voice of the narrator in a voice-over narration is crucial in conveying key aspects of a film. Voice denotes emotion, creating a relationship between the speaker and the audience. Within this particular clip, it is important to the overall message that the narrator’s voice is that of a male; it carries certain connotations which pertain to a Spartan warrior. As Cairns continues to explore this film clip through his research questions and major paper, I feel that an analysis of the voice which is providing the voice-over narration, beyond what he has currently pursued, could add an additional layer of understanding and prove beneficial in the long run. ”
This argument includes each element of a complex claim. The claim begins by making a clear, concise argument, while acknowledging counterclaims. The claim then expands, providing both background information and specific detail from the clip which supports the claim. Finally, the claim is future oriented, expanding on how research into the implications of the voice-over narrator’s embodiment and tone will benefit Scott’s major paper.
Studio Portrait 1
Major Paper 1: “A New Soundscript”
The first major paper of English 121 introduces a new sound-script for a short movie clip and makes a complex claim for the new sound-script’s relevance to the film. In my Major Paper 1, “The Implications of Speaking Too Soon, Too Much and Too Loudly,” I make an academic argument for a new voice-over narration for minutes 3:00-6:30 of the film Moulin Rouge. Through research into how the film portrays emotion and affect through visual signals, I conclude that the original sound-script is both overpowering and redundant, and introduce a new voice-over narrator, a female alien to the film, who reads a stripped down, minimal narration. Additionally, I delve into the implications of other situations in which a group of people is being spoken for, mapping my film-based research onto other real-world situations. I found the paper to be both fun and challenging to write, and as such, I unpacked Outcomes 2 and 4 in order to give you a quick picture of my writing process:
Outcome 3 (claim):
My Major Paper 1 includes the complex claim:
Although arguments can be made for the validity of the protagonist’s narration, I propose a new sound-script, in which the movie is narrated by a person completely alien to the film. Because this narrator is not part of the story line, she will essentially speak “for” the characters in the film. As speaking for others is often a regrettable endeavor, I chose to write a sound-script which is minimal in affect and emotion, verbalizing only those sentences which are critical to understanding the film’s plot. This minimal sound script will allow me to explore how emotion and affect are portrayed through visual signals in the film, without the interference of an industrial strength soundtrack. Additionally, my analysis of voice-over narration in film maps onto the problematics of speaking for others in a more general, and will allow me to delve into the issues inherent to speaking for others outside the realm of film.
This claim, located at the end of the introductory paragraph, is both risky and productive. The argument the claim makes, for a new soundscript, is concise and complex. The claim tactfully acknowledges counterarguments by stating that “arguments can be made for the validity of the protagonist’s narration.” Additionally, the claim goes into careful detail about the proposed new sound-script, outlining why this new soundscript matters. This attention to detail eliminates vagueness, and lays out for my academic audience where my paper is headed. The final sentence of the claim, which is future oriented, serves to augment the stakes of the claim while placing it in a more general academic sphere.
Outcome 4 (revision):
My first major paper presented a unique challenge to revise. Not only did I spend quite a bit of time tweaking grammar and punctuation, but, at the suggestion of my instructor, I rethought specific content related issues as well. Jentery helped me in the revision process by providing a brief written outline summarizing his suggestions for each paragraph, as well as an audio recording, in which he read my paper aloud and provided insightful commentary. On a micro-scale, my original paper was a little comma happy, and listening to Jentery read the paper aloud was extremely useful in determining where punctuation was excessive or missing entirely. Additionally, in this paper as well as in the the rest of my work throughout the quarter, my writing has a tendency to use vague references (“this” and “it”) instead of specific details. For example, a phrase in on the second page of my paper originally read:
“Looking back on his personal experience at the Moulin Rouge, Christian conveys to the audience the pain and suffering which his time in Paris inflicted on him, as well as the wisdom he gained from it. While this makes for an enjoyable watch, it leaves the audience with very little room to interpret and implicate the film for themselves.”
The revised version of the sentence is much clearer. Where originally the phrase contained three vague references in quick succession, the revised version contains none, making the set of sentences much clearer to the audience:
“Looking back on his personal experience at the Moulin Rouge, Christian conveys to the audience the pain and suffering which his time in Paris inflicted on him, as well as the wisdom which he gained from his experiences in Paris. While Christian’s voice-over makes for an enjoyable watch, his narration leaves the audience with very little room to interpret and implicate the film for themselves.”
Additionally, I made numerous revisions to the content and word choice of my paper, creating an educated and academic read. In his letter, Jentery suggests numerous changes to my paper in regards to my phrasing and analysis of film. I had not considered my paper from the angle he took on it, and it was enlightening to see the paper from his perspective. While I agree that my original statements about the “typical American child” where fairly presumptuous, I didn’t readily agree with his decree that the world of film is a big enough social issue to warrant the exclusion of all other social issues from the paper. His suggestion did open my eyes to the importance of film, and as such, I made certain changes in word choice. In my original paper, I dismissively write film off as “non-real world.” In my revised paper, though I continue to address other social issues, I place them on a plane equal to the issues presented by film. Additionally, I took to heart a few suggestions Jentery made in regards to work choice throughout the paper; for example,in my revised paper, underrepresented groups in society are referred to as “unheard” in stead of “voiceless,” and I acknowledge that words are powerful tools, not only dangerous ones.
Response Paper 2.1: “Now here this!” (Speaking About)
Through the analysis of podcasts, recorded by my classmate Seth and I about our service-based learning at a local Boys and Girls Club, Response Paper 2.1 engages the concept of “speaking about.” From the juxtaposition of these podcasts, which center around conversations with children at the Boys and Girls Club, I wrote a piece highlighting the importance of speaking with children. Response 2.1 is written for an audio-based audience (theoretically, the paper could be recorded and published on iTunes U- see attatched audio file). As writing for an audience who will hear your words is very different from writing a letter or an academic article, I chose to highlight my attention to audience (Outcome 1) in this portrait. Additionally, I outline Outcome 2, as my response was written entirely based on podcasts, and intertextualizes evidence from those podcasts.
Outcome 1 (audience):
Listeners and subscribers to iTunes U make up the projected audience of the audio recording of my Response Paper 2.1. As an audio-based audience, who is both foreign to the subject matter of the course and incapable of reading along as they listen, the audience of this response poses certain challenges. In order to fulfill Outcome 1 in this piece, it was necessary that I address confidentiality while contextualizing the content in an engaging manner for a new, listening audience. Due to basic confidentiality concerns and constraints, in my response I avoid specific references to the children in question where possible, and use pseudonyms where necessary. As the audience of the “broadcast” is much broader than the University of Washington, for clarity, I begin my response with a thorough introduction:
I am currently enrolled in a compositional English course. This course, “English 121 B”, is entitled “Service-Learning, Sonic Culture, and Media Activism”. As indicated by the course theme, English 121 B involves a service learning component. My classmates and I volunteer at local Boys and Girls clubs, and from our experiences there formulate compositions such as this one. Service learning allows us to learn on multiple levels, collaborate with our peers and, finally, mobilize the skills we have attained in the course in such a way that we make a positive impact in our local community.
This contextualizes our experiences while providing additional detail about the course and setting up the rest of my response. I avoid unnecessary detail, but provide enough that the body of the paper is relevant to the audience. Finally, I keep the mood and tempo of my response piece light-hearted, and avoid redundancy in order to keep my audience engaged. For example, I state:
While these podcasts touched on numerous issues and events, from churro making to large flying insects, resonant in both of our podcasts was the importance of speaking with kids.
The word choice of this sentence is informal and positive. By tying my subject matter to a consequential stake (through the use of the word “important”), I keep my audience involved. Throughout the paper, I avoid redundancy and wordiness, preventing my audio audience from losing interest or becoming confused.
Outcome 2 (evidence):
My Response Paper 2.1 is based on a set of podcasts produced by my classmate and myself. Thus, it is crucial to my 2.1 that I use our podcasts as evidence. Additionally, in order to produce a productive claim, I make connections between these two sets of podcasts. In order to map out a clear argument for an important connection, I site specific details through the use of evidence. For example, I state near the end of the paper:
Seth opens the podcast by describing the conversation as “an event which seems beneficial to both myself and the kids,” and he feels that interacting with kids through simple events like this one can improve their day, as well as his own, significantly.
By directly using Seth’s own words, I create an argument which is inherently stronger than a paraphrased statement. By allowing Seth to speak for himself, I am cutting down on the amount I speak “for” him in my response. Though I do not directly quote my own work in the paper, I do reference and paraphrase my podcast repeatedly. This allows me to coherently mesh Seth’s opinions and my own to create a single, productive, argument.
Peer review in the English 121 setting provided me with a thought-provoking and interesting means of brainstorming and revision throughout the course. I particularly enjoyed feedback from my peers on the 121 course blog, as well as throughout the first sequence of papers, in which I exchanged responses with my classmate, Scott. As an author, I benefited from peer revision in numerous ways. Initially, as I composed pieces, it was helpful to know that a peer would be read and critique my work. This knowledge prompted me to write papers I was proud of, and not ashamed to have my peers pick over with a fine toothed comb. Additionally, my classmates provided me with surprising new feedback, from angles I failed to consider during my initial writing process. The most intensive peer review process in the course occurs during the writing and reviewing process of Response Papers 1.2,1.3, and 1.4. I really enjoyed my exchange with Scott, which both surprised me and improved my writing. Finally, I enjoyed exchanges which occurred on the blog during the first weeks of the course. These blog posts and blog comments where helpful in my understanding of course material, and served as an introduction to my fellow classmates.
I feel that my instructor, Jentery Sayers, provided me with the most productive and helpful criticism during the course. I particularly enjoyed his audio responses to my work, which really allowed me to understand, better than margin comments, why he was making certain suggestions. Through his audio responses, Jentery looked beyond simple grammatical and syntax related revisions (though his suggestions on those grounds were well appreciated too). I found most valuable his suggestions into where my writing could go–suggestions into specific paragraphs which I could unpack, or concepts I could pursue helped me grow as a writer, and allowed me to produce pieces of writing which are productive and engaging, and that I am proud to publish in this portfolio.
From this course I will take two very important things away, one major and one minor (ironically, neither is tied to a specific course “outcome”):
Firstly, I feel that I have been dramatically affected, as a person and a writer, by my exposure into the concepts and problematics of speaking for others. Throughout the course, we explored the impertinence, as well as the necessity, of speaking for others. My knowledge on the subject was expanded, from its initial state at absolute zero, through thought-provoking readings (see attached files), enlightening, in-depth class discussion and an extremely enlightening panel discussion with a group of experts involved in community-based service. Having never really considered the effects and implications of speaking for others prior to 121 B, the amount of knowledge and insight I am taking away from the course is profound. As I trip and stumble my way through the rest of my college education and beyond, I will use this knowledge to frame my future endeavors in serving, and speaking “for, with and about.”
Secondly, I feel I have made great strides out of the realm of vague references. I hope to never again lose a readers attention or understanding through a rambling train of thises and its. Instead, I will hear Jentery’s voice saying, “What is this it referring to? Can you be more specific here?” I hope I have broken my vague habit, and that my future writing will always firmly ground itself through the use of specific evidence and concrete references.
My 121 Photo album would not be complete with out the remainder of the papers which I composed in English 121 B. Attached you will find:
– Response Paper 1.2 (Soundscaping) – 1.2 Response_Bournque
- Response Paper 1.4 (Writing Sound, Sound Writing – 1.4 Response_Bournque
- Response 2.2 PSA (Collabcast (Speaking “For”) – BournquePSA
- Major Paper 2 (A New Campaign (Speaking “With”)) – Major Paper 2_Bournque
Finally, I’d like to extend a thank you to my 121 peers and instructor. I learned a great deal from this course, and just as importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the process through which we created knowledge. Through the photos in my 121 B collage, this knowledge will last a lifetime.
*This essay was converted from the UW’s ePortfolio system, which was decommissioned in 2010. All of the content is from the original ePortfolio but the layout was changed to fit the e.g. Online format.
- 2007-08 Selected Essays
- 2007-08 Winner: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Inquiry and Report of a Controversy” by Shima Houshyar
- 2007-08 Winner: “Technology’s Priceless Value in Education” by Alize Bhojani, Devon Chandler-Brown, Danielle File, and Karlyn Kurokawa
- 2011-2012 i.e. Winner: “The impact of tangible evidence” by Rebecca Eskildsen
- 2011-2012 Winner: “A Virtual Exchange of Basketball Culture” by Ameen Tabatabai
- Read-Around Groups (4)
- Rhetorical Peer Review
- 2010-11 i.e. Winner: “That’s So Ghetto!” by Pat Origenes
- 2010-11 Winner: “Literal and Metaphorical: Racial Themes in Harry Potter” by Kayhan Nejad
- 2010-11 Selected Essays
- CFP: 2012 UW Teaching and Learning Symposium
- Award Ceremony & Pizza Party for 2010-11 e.g. Winners
- Introducing i.e.