Taylor McDonald: Notes Reflection

When I’m reading a play text the way I like to take notes in the margins of the page but if there is insufficient room in the margins I will sometimes take notes on a separate page instead. As I read I underline the literary devices the author uses and then in the margins I write down my thoughts as to what the author meant to do with said literary devices. I also try to mark down points that I feel are important to the overall text. If there are parts I don’t understand or feel are significant I will usually reread them two or three times to ensure I’m gleaning as much information as I can from the text.

After I have read the entire text I will go through my notes. After finishing the text I have more information about the story and what the author was trying to express. I will add to the notes I already have using the information I learn from the rest of the text and sometimes amend things that I no longer find relevant to the text.

When watching a film I approach it in much the same way despite the different medium. As I watch the first time I will write in a notebook, taking note of scenes or dialogue that seem important, as well as aspects of the film like camera work and music choice that seem to hint to something greater.

Watching a film for a second time will always yield much more than the first screening. After you know the ending and the direction a story will take aspects of the film take on a whole new meaning. you notice subtle foreshadowing that you didn’t understand the first time. Dialogue or actions that seemed unimportant become laced with meaning you were unable to understand the first time you watch. Watching a film a second time is much more rewarding than the first viewing and it adds to the notes you have already taken while introducing new points at the same time.

Both text and film are similar in the sense that many subtle hints left by the author/director only become visible when you already know the path a story will take.

Daniel Leong: Notes Reflection

As a result of being a quick thinker, a visual learner, and generally forgetful person, I much prefer electronic note taking when watching films, but find colored pens to be invaluable when analyzing text. I also find it beneficial to assume that everything done in a film or text is entirely intentional and, as though I were interviewing the director/author, I often ask myself: “What does this mean, and why is this way?”

This kind of thinking does limit my ability to take notes on film somewhat, as there is simply too much information about music, lighting, angles and shots for me to question and write about while viewing. For this reason, I often choose to focus primarily on choices pertaining to music and lighting as (Owing to my background in orchestra and video advertising) they are the simplest for me to understand. In terms of what I actually write down, I find that because of my forgetful but thorough nature it’s often in my best interest to write down words or phrases that help me remember what I was thinking at the time of viewing, rather than writing down exactly what I’m thinking. For example, with regards to music, while viewing the Crispin’s Day speech of Branagh’s Henry V I might write something along the lines of:

  • High diss shots +tymp = fear (Odds–)
  • Henry! low chord+add inst. + cresc chords=hope(Voice++)

As opposed to writing out:

  • The director chose dissonant shots from the high strings coupled with the steady tympani beat to indicate grim prospects for Henry’s soldiers.
  • When King Henry appears, the music switches from shots to major chords from the low strings. Their crescendo, coupled with the addition of many more instruments is matched by the volume of Henry’s voice and gives a hopeful, inspiring tone to the rest of his speech.

The fault in this method of note taking is that it is entirely dependent on my ability to recall what I was thinking. That being said, I find that though I’m occasionally unable to recollect my initial thought process, taking these kinds of notes gives me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the structure of scenes/sequences as a whole and how the elements I focus on (Music and lighting) fit into the larger picture. I know I’ve taken good notes when I look at them at home and remember instantly what I was seeing and why I thought what I thought.

 

Of course, no such problem of forgetting exists with text, as I can read and re-read to my heart’s content. With regards to note-taking, I often prefer to reformat and print out my own versions of passages so as to have ample room for annotation using colored pens. I’ve tried highlighters in the past, however, since I ask myself both “What does this mean?” and also “Why is it this way?” when reading, I find colored pens to be better for allowing me to precisely articulate my thoughts on specific words or phrases.

As a result of this method of thinking, I primarily look for meaning in specific diction, word connotations, and consonance/assonance as I find that the choice of words and how they sound are often the building blocks for the larger meanings of passages. Using the same example of the Crispin’s Day speech, I would underline every word pertaining to the idea of fellowship or brotherhood in blue, circle every example of alliteration in orange, every repetition of “Crispin” or “Crispian” in green, every word pertaining to ideas of battle in red and every word pertaining to ideas of remembrance in purple. Any thoughts I have regarding any of these themes I could then write down in their respective color and immediately connect them tangibly to the text. Having a general understanding of a particular play’s themes as a whole then enables me to quickly categorize and assign meanings to the specific use of these words/literary devices.

This does mean, of course, that I sometimes miss out on literary devices such as allusion, foreshadowing, metaphor, personification, etc. However, if the themes of the overall play are consistent throughout, I hardly think that a thorough analysis of diction will cause me to miss out on significant meaning coming from another literary device when considering plays as a whole.

Overall, my strategy of note taking hasn’t evolved much with respect to text since high school, however, the film-focus of this course has allowed for significant development in my note-taking for film.

Caitlyn Molstad: Notes Reflection

I am an extremely visual learner so my annotation and notes are all done by hand. I find that when I write things down- sometimes more than once- I can retain a large amount of information. I take a lot of notes, jotting down everything I can think of at first, then going back over them to pick out the most important points and emphasize what is most significant. I often re-write my notes after a lecture to better retain the information.

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When close reading a play-text, I begin by creating a list of the characters. I find it helpful to do some external research and write a brief description of each character’s place within the narrative, connection to other characters, and some of their personal qualities and motives within the text. I refer back to this list often during my readings. I have found my readings of texts in which the language is more difficult than usual to be most successful when I seek external information and summaries before diving into a close reading. Sparknotes is often viewed negatively in higher academic settings but I think that it can be an effective addition to traditional close readings. annotation-2I paraphrase each scene of every act in a play, writing down the general plot line so that when I start my close reading, I can focus on the more nuanced details of the text instead of struggling to grasp the basic storyline. I find I am more successful in analyzing Shakespeare’s elevated language when I already have a strong grasp of what’s going on in a particular scene.

Once I have my list of characters and a paraphrase of each scene, I begin the close reading process. annotation-1I like to look over the footnotes and briefly annotate or translate anything I think is significant next to the lines on the top half of the page so I’m not constantly breaking away from the text to read the notes. Then, I mark off the meter of the text, which not only helps me to understand the meaning behind the poetic devices at work, but also focuses me on the rhythm of each line and slows my reading down. In a very detailed close reading of a scene, I underline and highlight different things that jump out at me, like any alliteration or variation on syllables. I found using the glossary of terms provided to us by Dr. Ullyot to be helpful and I take note of which poetic or linguistic elements I notice in a particular passage.

My annotation and notes when analyzing a film are a little less formal than when reading a play-text, but perhaps more time-consuming. I watch the film all the way through, taking a first set of notes that are more like a stream of consciousness. I write down any thoughts and ideas I get while watching the film, important symbols, cinematic techniques at work, the effect of score or soundtrack, and any important quotes that stand out to me. I also take note of any scenes or sequences that I found to be particularly interesting and write down the time at which they occur in the film. I then go back to those scenes and take notes with more detail and attention than the first set. After I’ve seen the whole movie, I write down any final thoughts or conclusions about the film and any arguments I might make.

I think it’s also interesting to note that I use these different viewing and reading habits to compliment one another in my understanding of a text. Reading the play-text can help to accentuate meanings I perhaps didn’t pick up on in a film, and watching scenes on film can help me better understand a particular scene from the play. When I engage in different mediums and methods of understanding a text, I am successful in uncovering deeper meaning and more diverse interpretations that I may not have with a one-dimensional approach.

I determine my success in annotating by talking to someone about the text once I’m finished studying. I find that if I am able to explain meaning, details, and engage verbally by teaching someone else about the material, I generally have a good understanding of the text. This way, not only do I feel confident in my own knowledge, but those closest to me become well-educated on the texts I engage with!

Cai Samphire: Note Reflection

When I’m taking notes on different subjects, my general starting point is figuring out references. It works easiest with text, as I can generally write things down, but that both work. This is especially relevant in Shakespeare, where many of the similes and metaphors Shakespeare uses are related to history or Greek (or Roman) mythology.

For example, there is a line in Much Ado About Nothing: “to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder and Vulcan a rare carpenter”. This line is fairly confusing normally, but it helps a bit when I linked it to the gods. Both Cupid and Vulcan are Roman gods. Most people know Cupid and the link with hunter and the bow and arrow, while Vulcan is a smith for the gods (most known for forging Jupiters [Zeus in greek] lightning bolts). By figuring out this reference, it gives me a jumping off point for the other parts of the reading.

Similarly, I try to figure out references to other movies when watching them.

Not Shakespeare, but it serves to illustrate my point. Films are a hundred fifty years old now. They have their own complete canon that can be pulled from. Such as the above scene in Zootopia, which is very clearly making reference to the Godfather. These scenes have their own cemented themes and ideas that viewers will recognize, or will be taught to recognize. The Godfather for example has strong ties to family values and what goes around comes around. Comparing scenes like this in movies helps a lot in figuring out what is going on, especially since Shakespeare can be difficult to follow sometimes.

This sort of tactic can be used on a very large scale to an extent as well, such as in the situations above. Sometimes I have trouble following Shakespeare, so watching a film such as the above can help to an extent. They aren’t one to one comparisons, but I can take notes of major plot points of the movie(s) and get a general sense of what is going on in the original play. By getting a vague outline, it makes it easier for me to reference sections in certain plays a lot easier because I know in a general sense what is happening.

When taking notes I will also look at which sections are written in prose and which ones are pentameter. It’s a minor thing, but it helps me figure out certain issues. Shakespeare tends to use language in specific ways, where he uses prose a lot for jokes and normal conversation, but will switch to pentameter when emotions are bubbling to the surface. This guideline has saved me on a few occasions, where I was lost trying to figure out what was going on in a particular scene, only to realize it was pentameter, read it in the correct manner, and it actually helped the scene make more sense. It also helps a lot in trying to figure out where a story might be going, by leading into certain issues through the use of it. I would sometimes be concerned that the scene wasn’t going to progress anywhere, notice the sudden use of prose and start paying attention because something important was about to happen.

And while not taking notes per se, one of the best ways I found to figure out what’s going on and find questions to ask is just talking to people. I’m a drama major, so I’m in an environment where most people will know the play(s) that I’m talking about at any major moment. There have been times where I’ve thought I’ve understood a scene perfectly well, but someone else will talk to me about it and say how they interpreted it in a completely different fashion than what I imagined. These encounters help open up my view of a particular piece of writing. This also works for movies. We’ve discussed in the English course that directors create a movie to look a very particular way. They also generally have more of a budget than theatre does. This allows them to do more and create more elaborate scenarios, which also helps expand my view of what a Shakespeare world could be.

My note taking can be a bit disjointed, and these methods hardly express all the ways that I do so. But if I had to define a way that I’m doing it all, I would say that it all falls under helping me understand the material.

Shoshanna Paperny: Notes Reflection

When reading, a text as foreign as Shakespearean plays, many tactics must be employed in order to understand not only the surface, but deeper meaning. In play writes and film involving Shakespeare’s text and language there is often alternative meanings than what originally meets the eye. Within the text lies various forms of symbolism, puns, irony and hidden messages that one would not notice without deeper speculation. When reading a play or watching a film my annotation process involves multiple steps. The first is re-reading or re watching the content.
By becoming better acquainted with the content you are already at an advantage when it comes to annotating the text. You become more familiar with the storyline, characters and general plot. Apart from that each time I read or watch a play, a new piece of information stands out to me, or I notice an aspect that I hadn’t before. After reviewing it twice or three times through I revisit the sections that A)stood out to me as being important, or B)I found confusing. At this point in the process I annotate a written play differently than a film.
For a play I revisit the interesting or confusing sections and start to decode it one word at a time. By finding or gaining a better explanation of what key words mean, you can start to understand what the text is getting at or portraying. In a film on the other hand, I typically approach these scenes by returning to the original text that the scene is based on. For me I best understand information through reading. Often by just reading the words from the paper I can better understand what is occurring on film.
This use of using text and film together to annotate goes both ways. By watching a Shakespearean film, and reading the original play (or vide versa), you gain a better understanding for the play and the content being portrayed. This way you are exposed to another person’s impression of the play while integrating it with your own mental imagery of it. While reading the text I will often underline these key words and read the text out loud in order to consolidate the information.
By annotating text you are not simply summarizing what is it front of you. You are adding something new, maybe a concept or a way in which is wasn’t understood before. For me a successful annotation provides me with the ability to not only relay on the story I read/watched but also be able to add my own opinions or takes on it. If you truly have a deep understanding for the content you are able to expand on it and gain deeper insight on its various meanings.

Kaitlin Osterlund: Notes Reflection

With a play-text, I find that I am much more active in my inquiry and annotation than for a film. I also find that annotation for a play-text is more of a physical process for remembering and recalling information. I like to underline and circle lots of phrases and words when I am reading in order to use the physical act of writing as I read to better retain the text’s meaning. The things I underline or circle either have some relevance to the main purpose of the passage, or are parts that I did not fully understand and would need to research further to understand the passage’s true meaning. I tend to take more notes when reading than when viewing a film because I find it harder to focus on reading a passage than watching a film. By taking more notes when I read, I feel that I make up for this reduced focus and can better recall the meaning in what I had read. I believe more effort is required for the inquiry process to understand the underlying meaning of written passages, because so much of the meaning is left up to a reader’s imagination to interpret on their own.

With a film, I find that I am much more passive in my inquiry and annotation than for a play-text, and I also find that annotation for a film is much more of a visual process. I rarely take notes when watching a film, and often find that I distract myself from the film when I attempt to take notes. This distraction keeps me from involving myself in the interpretation of the plot, and I am not able to immerse myself in the meaning of the moving images on the screen. Even though I don’t write as many notes, I feel like I retain the same amount of information as I would from taking lots of notes from a play-text. I find that I can form pictures in my head from recalling scenes I had viewed when recalling information. I can remember the body language of the actors, the setting, their costumes, the tone of music, and most importantly how I was feeling and what emotions were emphasized in that scene. Watching film seems more immersing than reading, because both visual and auditory senses are active and so I recall more because more of my senses are focused on the inquiry of the film. This allows the annotation of a film to be a more passive process.

I measure the success of these methods of inquiry and annotation based on the amount of knowledge I am able to successfully retain. Success can also be further measured in how well I can present the knowledge I have gained, determining whether I fully understand the meaning of the knowledge I had remembered from either play-text or film.

Dale, Edgar. Cone of Learning. Digital image. Factlets – Spark Insight. Taxevity, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. http://sparkinsight.wdfiles.com/local–files/factlets/cone_of_learning.png

I often refer to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning (2016), which I had first come across in a second year ecology course I had taken. It states that after two weeks, only 10% of what is read is remembered and only 50% of what is viewed and heard from film is remembered. Both reading and viewing are passive methods of remembering information, yet viewing is located further down on the pyramid and is closer to an active process of remembering. Annotation can improve the amount of retained knowledge, and can be considered more of an active form of remembering information. Because reading a play-text retains less information over two weeks, I believe it is why I feel the need to write more notes to ensure I am successful in retaining the full understanding and meaning from the play-text. The opposite is true for viewing a film which retains more information over two weeks, and therefore I feel the need to write fewer notes to ensure I am successful in retaining the full understanding and meaning from the film.

Citation:

Dale, Edgar. Cone of Learning. Digital image. Factlets – Spark Insight. Taxevity, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. http://sparkinsight.wdfiles.com/local–files/factlets/cone_of_learning.png

Samuel Martyn: Notes Reflection

My notes are awful. They are sparse and happen relatively infrequently. Particularly for reading a play or watching film. They are nondescript for the most part. If anyone aside from me was to look at my notes, they would not gain much, if anything at all.

Most of my annotation when it comes to going through the text of a play, does not consist of writing words between the lines or in the margins. I circle, highlight, and underline words or phrases of significance. I usually read the scene/passage out loud, and make these annotations during or after. This is so I can gauge the emotion, flow, and emphasis of the passage. The few words I write in are only to describe the emotion or tone of the speaker.

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The reason for my style of note-taking (or lack thereof) is that once I read or hear the text a couple of times through, I can process it quite easily. I also find it more beneficial to return and re-read the entire passage to remember or understand the text than to try and interpret what the annotation I wrote in at a prior time means. Following a single story-line with the same characters throughout the text, I can very easily process and engage in what is happening without taking many notes.

This sentiment is even further experienced when I watch a film. I rarely take notes while watching film. By actively pairing the narrative with faces and voices, and literally having the text played out in front of my eyes, I almost immediately process and internalize what is happening. Film is my favourite medium (aside from music) for the sole fact that I can recall its information so quickly and accurately. The only time I will write down a note from a film is when there is a line that I want to remember, or a song on the soundtrack that I want to download at a later time.

The only other time in which I will write something down while watching a film or reading a play text, is when I want to be looking for categorical or symbolic representations within the medium. However, these will not be specific things I write down, it will be more like “watch for: lighting shifts, change in tone, music”, etc. I do this instead of in depth, specific notes, because I want to be engaged with the text medium itself, rather than try to keep up with both note taking and observation and then end up missing something significant within the text.

My notes are typically not successful in the sense that they should be. When I do annotations, I typically look back a few days later and have absolutely no idea what it means. When it comes to the final exam however, I do realize that this choice of extremely limited annotation may cause some issues for me. I take notes in my history classes, when there are not necessarily story lines or narratives, or consistent characters that make the material a linear, thematic text. Annotations done on my part do not help me comprehend English literature any better.

My notes may come across as “insufficient” to others or, it may seem as if I am not engaging in the text, but that could not be farther from the truth. Notes are just not how I find I can actively engage the text.

Pavneet Pahwa: Notes Reflection

Shakespeare is seen as a challenge by most English students all over the world. His language is flowery and pleasant to hear, but also rather daunting to try and understand. Archaic vocabulary, historical context, bizarre sentence structure, and an abundance of literary devices further contribute to a much denser layer of complexity in his work. Exposure to this madness over the years, however, has resulted in the development of my own method of comprehension which I will be discussing in this blog post.

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My journey of a play-text begins with a list of roles which I translate into a character tree. Details are added as more of the play’s context is revealed through online research, footnotes, as well as the advancement of the plot. Keeping this tree chart available as a guide throughout, I read an online summary of each act just prior to engaging with the text. I follow along the play using an unbiased, non-dramatized LibriVox-Audiobook recording to stay on track while keeping the words open to interpretation. Already having a gist of the plot enables me to focus on Shakespeare’s interpretive choices as I highlight all the textual features that make a strong first impression, taking notes in the margins. A dictionary is kept accessible at all times.

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Monologues and exchanges that seem most important to plot and character development are marked with sticky-notes, to be analyzed more closely once the whole play has been read. Then, the chosen lines are read aloud and more slowly to attend to details. I divide the text into sections, if possible, based on apparent shifts in form, language and/or semantics, as recommended by Dr. Ullyot. The use of literary techniques is further categorized using a table that I created based on Dr. Ullyot’s expectations for close reading, to ensure that no significant aspect is overlooked. Keeping patterns in mind, I utilize the table to jot down the effects of the literary features used, in addition to categorizing them. This highlights the importance of their employment while also actualizing the awareness that one is being manipulated by Shakespeare (accidentally and/or deliberately) in the subtlest of ways.

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In contrast, influence over the audience is much more deliberate, pronounced, and yet easily discounted by the untrained eye when it comes to cinema. Having freely interpreted the words of the author from my own perspective, I then allow directors to sweep me into their narrower adaptation of the same. Impactful scenes are paused, rewound and replayed several times with a table of key elements, a pen, and a notebook at my disposal, in order to implement disciplined focus, given the much faster pace of films. The first thing I note down is a brief description of the setting being portrayed in the film, how similar or different it is from what Shakespeare or I may have imagined, and how it enhances the story as a whole. I usually have the book in front of me to get a sense of the proportion of text that has been shown, as opposed to being told.

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Direction and camera are arguably the most crucial components of the visual aspect of cinema. I take note of the general type, pattern, and point of view of the film shots. The strategy behind editing and splicing the same is noted along with the genre, pace and rhythm of the music being employed. Similarly, I look for iconic moments created by actors based on their individual interpretations of the characters, intertwined with those of the director. The chemistry between, and the (gradual or sudden) shifts in these cinematic elements (Crowl, 2007) is an important aspect of my film analyses. I follow up with reading the recommended critiques, learning about the director’s signature style, and watching interviews, further unveiling the thought processes behind some of the creative decisions witnessed on screen.

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After having collected, categorized and described the evidence from both literature and film in a segregated manner, I begin to seek patterns across my notes for strong, recurring themes and well-supported arguments. The success of my inductive analyses is determined by the abundance of quality evidence alluding to each claim or concept. Having clusters of data (though subjective in interpretation), as opposed to outliers, reduces the likelihood of arriving at far-fetched conclusions, paving the way for an effective piece of argumentative writing.

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Works Cited

Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.

Mirabelle Harris-Eze: Notes Reflection

“We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”

~ Louis Armstrong

Introduction

While most notes include summaries and interpretation of data, the way these occur on the page differ from person to person. My marketing textbook describes analysis as the conversion of data into insight, and this analysis is always made easier for me through taking notes. Today, I want to look at textual data and visual data, especially in regards to play-texts and films. My annotation practices when reading and observing both art forms differ and converge in methodology.

Annotation Practices – Play-Texts

An aversion to manipulating physical copies of a text, due to the majority of the texts that I have ever read being library loans, means that my copies of Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing are void of  highlighting, underlines and scribbles. I hope to grow out of this aversion, as I have to come to understand—over taking two English classes this semester and talking to classmates—that margin notes taken in the physical copy of a text have numerous benefits such as ease of reference and direct linking of ideas without having to write them all out. Currently, with my aversion still present, I write detailed notes about play-texts in a separate notebook.

As Play-Texts are a form of Literature, I am very conscious of literary devices when taking notes. I note:

  1. Literary Devices (Symbolism, Simile, etc.)
  2. Quotes or words I enjoy/I don’t understand
  3. Context I might need to look into further

I also try to go beyond simply addressing the existence of the above but: in the case of literary terms, discussing the effects of the devices used; with words I can’t decipher, looking them up; and context I am clueless about, researching more. All of this additional information is jotted down.

Annotation Practices – Film

When watching film, there are numerous aspects to keep in mind as I write my notes in a notebook. Unlike with textual works, I have less academic experience with writing notes when watching films. This class has been a large factor in my better understanding of interpreting film. When writing notes during the various films we’ve seen throughout ENGL 311, there are specific things I look for:

  1. Film Techniques (such as type of shots, editing cuts, etc.)
  2. Actors (A-List, relationship to director/producer, etc.)
  3. Lines or words I enjoy/don’t understand
  4. Context I might need to look into further

After numerous English classes that taught how to read literature, the process of annotation and interpretation of texts flows quickly and lengthily. The same cannot be said for film. These notes tend to be more sparse, especially because when watching scenes from a film in a classroom or theater-like setting, it is not possible/too time-consuming to pause to write down lengthy observations.

General Note Taking and Inquiry and Determining Success

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An example of my note-taking.

I like to see how several small ideas connect over large chunks of text or video. Thus, when I write notes, my handwriting tends to be very minute and cramped. The more text I can cram on a page, the more ideas I can relate and compare. I also utilize arrows, models, and different text colors to relate ideas, differentiate headings or highlight important words and concepts. For taking notes for texts and films, I try to develop a character map listing out the cast of characters, along with their characteristics, and how they relate to each other.

There are two different things I look at when trying to tell if I’ve had a successful note-taking session:

  1. I understand the material better and this understanding resonates across all additional analysis.
  2. When I look back at my notes, I can understand them in nearly the same capacity as when I wrote them down.

Conclusion

My note taking is often intensely meticulous, cramped, colorful and done in a specific notebook with lined paper. My approach when taking notes when reading play-texts and when watching film differ and converge. Notes on play-texts tend to be lengthier and more in-depth. Both require brief summaries, analysis of textual and visual devices, and, later on, external research.

 


mira-shadowMirabelle Harris-Eze is an 18 year-old student based in Calgary, Alberta. Sometime in the near future, she wishes to publish a book written entirely in the language of her ancestors, Igbo. One day she hopes to fill this bio with writing credentials, and accolades. For now, this will have to do.

Christian Tiberi: Notes reflection

I will admit that note-taking has always been a particular pain for me. My handwriting is usually illegible chicken scratch, which makes annotating texts difficult as I cannot fit my writing into the small space. Due to the size of my handwriting and the size of the margins (depending on the text), I am forced to reduce my annotations to one helpful word.

Using one word to describe a passage does cut out a lot of the important, deeper aspects of a text. If I should happen to forget some of the deeper implications of that one word, or if I forget why that particular word was the one I chose, this practice essentially becomes useless.

My workaround for annotations is usually to use my Chromebook with an extension called “Kami” that allows me to mark up and digitally write all over PDF files of the texts we are studying. For this particular class, this has proved valuable as I can annotate the plays to my heart’s content. There are no space or size restraints, so I can fit as many notes as possible on one line of text. I also use it for scholarly articles to highlight important ideas and take notes on them. This method works for me because I can easily record and later reference important insight on class readings.

This method also has its shortcomings. For Shakespeare and this class in particular, the text is public domain and can easily, and legally, be downloaded as a PDF. For other classes, PDF versions of the texts are either not easily accessible or not legally available for download, or both. For those classes, I usually use my pen and notebook. I would say I use a watered-down form of annotation, numbering the beginning of important passages and then writing my notes on said passages in my notebook. I usually have to write fast if we are taking notes in class, which could further reduce the legibility of my writing. I will occasionally have to skip over or paraphrase ideas, which limits my understanding of core concepts when reviewing my notes.

For films, I take a different approach to taking notes. It’s more of a process than a simple action. The first time I watch a film, I won’t take down physical notes, just make mental notes of scenes that I find intriguing. Later, I will go home and watch the movie again, taking more detailed notes of the scenes I liked.

This method gives me more time to process and analyze the movie in-depth. Rather than an in-class showing that is a simple linear run-through, I have the power to pause, play, slow down, go back, skip forward, etcetera. Having picked and dissected a scene, I can make more concise notes regarding the camera work, the transitions, and all the other minor details that directors put into a film that are rarely noticed at first viewing.

After recording all of these details, I will then expand on them by picking another scene I found interesting and repeat the process with the added step of comparing and contrasting. I’ll ask myself questions like “why did/didn’t the director use similar techniques in these different scenes?” or “what is the implication of using/not using this technique in this particular scene?” I have found that this helps me clearly answer the overall question of “how does the director convey meaning in these scenes?”

This process also has its drawbacks. I will admit that it’s a very long process that does require a lot of effort and time on my part. If I’m working on a time constraint (or if I’m simply not feeling up to it), I do not necessarily have the time to repeatedly pause and play the film. I might just do a quick screening, recording the more overt technical aspects of the film without slowing down to re-watch or reconsider my thoughts.

Note taking has always been difficult for me, but I feel that I am slowly making progress into making my notes complete and useful for review, both on texts and on films.