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Retrospective-Prospective Essay

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Megan Ewert

on 7 December 2014

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Transcript of Retrospective-Prospective Essay

Retrospective-Prospective Essay: What I Built in English 101
Week Three: Improving Essay One: Zooming and Panning and Vertical Development
Prospective Look: So What Is Next?
So what am I going to with all these rhetorical strategies and literary devices? Well, I do plan taking more courses that will require me to write academic essays at Western Washington University. Having this course as my foundation for rhetorical and literary techniques will undeniably help me in other GUR courses. I do not plan on majoring or minoring in anything that will require me to use MLA or the strategies that I learned in this class, but that could always change and having these skills will definitely enrich my education and aid me in declaring a major. These skills will most likely help me with essays for scholarships or for applying to a major in the next couple years and later medical school.
Week One: Introducing Participatory Cultures
English 101: Writing and Critical Inquiry
Week Eight: Revising and Editing
A major part of having a professional academic essay was making sure there was no amateur mistakes such as spelling, proper word choice, unnecessary cliches, overuse of prepositional phrases, using passive voice, and sentence fragments. These are all things that are easy to accidentally do but in this class Rebecca does a great job in putting time aside to fix the little things that we may have brushed past. Major revision was needed for our portfolio essays, content-wise, but it was still important to go back and edit the grammar and punctuation to make it overall high quality. Something as simple as a misplaced comma can make a reader doubt the creditability of the writer.
Week Five: Citations and Evidence
One of the most effective ways to use a piece of evidence was with a citation package. Citation packages are a newer idea that a lot of professors at Western Washington University have started using because it helps students use evidence and citations in a more compelling way. A citation package is "a method for integrating source material into a piece of writing that typically includes an attribution to the source, a verbatim quotation or paraphrase or summary showing the writer’s understanding of the cited text, and a pointed discussion indicating what the writer makes of the cited material" (Burgesser, Rebecca).

My Final Portfolio Essay
My final portfolio essay was a very long process. In it, I included the ideas of both Becca Schaffner and Mary Louise Pratt. Both of these authors had unique ideas and terms to understand but essentially both of them explored the conversation of participatory cultures and contributed to the conversation happening around it. Using what they contributed, I also contributed to the overall conversation by bringing in my own ideas and crafting my own questions. With all the various rhetorical strategies that I learned and used in this course, I developed an essay that questioned, contributed, and added to the participatory culture of reading and writing.
Week One:
Introducing Participatory Cultures
Week Two:
Participating in Arguments and Developing a Critical Inquiry Question
Week Three:
Improving Essay One: Zooming and Panning and Vertical Development
Week Four:
Affinity Spaces and Representative Examples
Week Five:
Citations and Evidence
Week Six:
Developing an Academic Title
Week Seven:
Contact Zones and Safe Houses and Fishbowls
Week Eight:
Revising and Editing
Week Nine:
Beginnings and Endings
Week Ten:
Revising Final Portfolio Essay
The first week and focus in this class was to understand "participatory culture" and how it has evolved with technology and culture of reading and writing. Starting with the preface of the text book, I came to understand that participatory cultures are groups of people who contribute to a common cause and have some type of artistic and civic engagement (Qualley, Donna). This was the first step towards my portfolio essay because this is the basis to understanding the later concepts introduced.
Week Two: Participating in Arguments and Developing a Critical Inquiry Question
In this module, we were introduced to Stuart Greene and Becca Shaffner. Greene brought many ideas to the table. In his essay,
Argument as Conversation: The Role of Inquiry in Writing a Researcher Argument
he explained how to get readers to agree with the writer by using evidence to enter the conversation. To do this, we had to identify the issue and situation to develop and frame our own question- a critical inquiry question. In order to do this, we had to identify the targeted audience and then create a question that stemmed from some fundamental tension within the conversation. To practice this, we were assigned two assignments: the first one required us to read through fsnfiction.net and make some observations on what we noticed was going on and the second one required us to identify an issue, situation, and then
create critical inquiry questions based off it. This class required mature
writing skills because we were asked to do more than write about a given topic
but to question the topic at hand and then to contribute to the conversation.
Zooming and panning as probably one of the most useful strategies introduced in this class. Every essay ha a length requirement and sometimes figuring out what to say and how much to say on one idea was challenging. Zooming means looking at something in detail and examining it closely, like using a representative example or idea within a paper to explain an idea further. This helps us expand our ideas and ties into another strategy learned: exploding paragraphs which is also vertical development. To "explode" a paragraphs we were introduced to strategies such as countering and questioning our work.
Week Four: Affinity Spaces and Representative Examples
In this module we started to develop the skills to create our own representative examples- whcihw as the main idea of our second essay assignment. The assigned reading for this was James Paul Gee's essay,
Affinity Spaces: From Age of Mythology to Today's Schools
, which was essentially redefining that idea of what a community is and what a community is not. His ideas were extensive and specific but with his essay as a starting point, it was easy to use the issue, situation, question method to create a critical inquiry question and then a representative example to be used in our second essay. An important strategy when considering a representative example was the 10 to 1 strategy. This strategy was about using 10 observations for 1 piece of evidence. The numerical value in this is not exact but more of a general idea that we should have more observations than pieces of evidence because it is about how evidence is used rather than how much was presented. This strategy helped us use evidence correctly and provided our audiences with a solid piece of evidence that we demonstrate using and knowing correctly.
Week Six: Developing an Academic Title
Titles will proved to more important than we thought at first in this class (and I won a doughnut because of them). A successful academic title draws interest, gives the reader an idea of the material discussed in the paper, and manages expectations. For example, my final portfolio essay originally had the title Support Groups. This title did not tell my reader what about support groups I was going to discuss, what kinds of support groups, it did not spark interest or give the reader an adequate idea of what expectations to have so with this title the reader assumed that I was going to discuss every detail known to man about support groups. This is a very poor title and would not have won me a doughnut.
Week Seven: Contact Zones and Safe Houses and Fishbowls
In this module, we explored Mary Louise Pratt's ideas in her essay,
Arts of the Contact Zone
, and then participated in a Fishbowl activity. Pratt introduced many ideas that were applicable to our second essays to improve the content and depth. Pratt discussed her ideas of safe houses, contact zones, autoethnography, ethnography, transculturation, and imagined communities. The most important ones for this
class were most likely safe houses and contact zones because
they applied to more ideas that we had covered
thus far.
Week Nine: Beginnings and Endings
Week Ten: Revising My Final Portfolio Essay
Works Cited
Beginnings/introductions are essential to having an essay that is going to captivate an audience and draw them into a writer's work. We were given many ways to begin an academic essay: a personal story, a description, or a representative example. I chose to start my second essay with my representative example of support groups and introduced that to my audience before my thesis to sort of draw them in and make them wonder where I was going with this. With my essay starting inductively, I later introduced my critical inquiry question and developed an evolving thesis that progressed throughout my work.
Another important revising strategy was signposting. Signposting is "cohesion is used in complex arguments, where the reader may need to know what the writer is up to or where the writer is going before he gets there. Otherwise the reader is likely to lose her way. Meta-discursive commentary is a cohesion strategy because it helps people link the parts together in order to not get lost or confused"
(Signposting-Cohesion). I personally struggled with this because it is hard to use effectively without saying "In this essay I will talk about..." but it was definitely something I found important to incorporate into my final portfolio essay and thesis.
While understanding this definition of a participatory culture, I was also involved in one. My professor, Rebecca Burgesser, created a participatory culture within the classroom- starting with the participation contract that we did when the class first begins, she made sure that everyone was actively involved and contributed in their own way. She made sure to give us a variety of ways to participate from social cues of shaking our heads to contributing vocally. The class was designed in a way to aid each individual in the understanding and participation of a participatory culture and was definitely one that we could not just sit back and listen the whole time. Being active in the discussion is not only more beneficial but is kind of the whole point of the class with it being so small in class size.
Panning refers to backing up and looking at the big picture that a question pertains to and tackling the "so what" questions that readers might develop while reading a writer's work. In my portfolio essay, I zoomed in on the benefits of physical support groups (meaning that they meet in person) and also virtual support groups (meaning that they interact over the internet) but then later panned out and explain why this representative example was relevant to the conversation of virtual and physical affinity spaces.
An example of this from my first essay about fanfiction is as follows: "Fanfiction topics range from children’s movies to intensely mature adult fiction, but one topic alone can contain fanfiction of various genres: from giddy to heartbreaking. It is indeed “a large community of readers unconstrained by time, distance, age or talent” (Schaffner). Becca Schaffner, a fanfiction writer herself, understands the true make-up of this community because of her personal experience inside it. She would likely advocate that with a provincial mind as your guide, fanfiction will only confuse you with its vast array of talents and focuses." Citation packages are a great way to show your reader that you know what you are talking about and understand the evidence that you are using and also addresses the "so what" of you including it in the first place because you exaplin why it is significant and relevant to your point.
My final title was Friends in Low Places: The Affinity and Infinity of Support Groups. This title uses a recognizable phrase (Friends in Low Places from the song Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks) followed by an alliteration (The Affinity and Infinity) and finally what the reader can expect me to discuss, Support Groups, which was my representative example. Also, a common pattern in academic titles is the appearance of a semi colon, which allows a break in a sentence that is stronger than a comma but also indicates that the items are closely related.
Safe houses are described as being a homogeneous space where the member's beliefs are ratified while contact zones are quite the opposite with it being a heterogeneous space where the member's beliefs are put at risk. These ideas applied well to our second essays because it was likely that our representative example were relate closely to one or the other. In my second essay, my representative example was support groups whcih closely related to safe houses so I applied the safe houses to my second essay.
During this week, I personally learned a lot about how to question something effectively by asking a question that does not have a direct or single answer. In Shaffner's essay,
In Defense of Fanfiction
, her idea and definition of "community" was introduced to the class. We used her ideas to develop a critical inquiry question and examined the community of fanfiction as a participatory culture. To aid us in the process of developing a critical inquiry question, we did an activity where we identified an issue within a genre of fanfiction, then the situation, and once these are identified you can develop a critical inquiry question. In this way, we were participating in the culture and contributed to the argument.
Endings/conclusions are just as pertinent to a well crafted academic essay. A solid conclusion should leave a reader with something to reflect on and respond to such as, So what? and What's next? If a writer was really to contribute to the conversation at hand then they should have left the reader thinking about what they might want to add or what they think should have been said.
The first step in my revision was to make my citation packages stronger and decide what evidence stays and what evidence goes. I did this because I knew I would have to add in new evidence from Pratt and in order to effectively use the 10 to 1 strategy I should only have a couple in depth citations.
The next step I took was figuring out where and how to add in Mary Louise Pratt's ideas into my essay so that it flowed together and made logical sense. I added her idea of contact zones and safe houses because the definitions related well to communities present in fanfiction.
Next, I went through and revised and edited my essay for grammar and punctuation mistakes. Also, I added in ideas and points that I thought of after the fact, that I felt improved the overall quality of the essay. One thing that Rebecca emphasized was that we should never do something in one sitting because when work is spaced out it leaves more time to think of things once something has been written down. When there is an "Ah-ha!" thought or a moment of clarity , it is nice for that to be before the submission date.
The last thing I actually did for my final portfolio essay create the tags and abstract. I did this last because I felt like I needed to be completely done with the essay before trying to summarize it in anyway, shape, or form. I had no idea how dramatic of a revision it was going to be or how much I was going to change the content. (The abstract is an academic summary while the tags are the key terms covered in the paper.)

Burgesser, Rebecca (Beginnings and Endings) English 101. Western Washington
University, Fall 2014. Web. 24 November 2014.

Burgesser, Rebecca (Citation Packages) English 101. Western Washington University, Fall
2014. Web. 24 November 2014.

Burgesser, Rebecca (Signposting-Cohesion) English 101. Western Washington University,
Fall 2014. Web. 24 November 2014.

Qualley, Donna, comp. St. Martins: Bedford, 2015. Print.
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