Carly Splett: Argument Reflection

I begin by carefully examining the essay’s criteria, in order to determine exactly what will be required. This examination is then broken down into an outline, which will be referenced repeatedly throughout the composition of my essay. After determining the precise subject matter for my assignment, I begin my research with general sources, and/or the source directly pertaining to the assignment, to thoroughly engage with the material. From this research, I determine my stance on the argument, and compose my thesis.

After determining my argument, I compile an outline document which comprises of each section necessary in the essay. If additional research is required for the assignment, I will engage in a thorough research for multiple viable sources. Depending on the nature of the assignment, I will either begin with internet or print sources. My general rule is to attempt to engage at least twenty sources for a research-source-based assignment. If the assignment is not research-source-based, I will pour my energies into an aggressive analysis of the primary material pertaining to the assignment. Any passages which prove beneficial to my essay are copied under the relevant outline section.

Once all of my necessary information has been compiled, I begin to compose my essay in a new document. Using the outline as a basis, I work on each section separately. I do not necessarily work on each section chronologically, but will engage each section in the order of strongest to weakest argument. As I engage the material, it can become apparent that my current stance differs subtly from my thesis. Working on each section out of order enables me to examine my analysis of the information without bias, and therefore reconstruct my thesis if it is necessary.

The first draft of my essay will then undergo editing, through both a micro and macro analysis. Any statements or information which prove to be inaccurate or ineffective are removed or altered, and any gaps in the argument or material are supported with additional quotes or statements. As a general rule, I prefer to leave a day or two in between edits, so that I can analyze the strength of my argument from a fresh perspective. After three to four edits, I feel satisfied with the strength of my argument.

An example of this process, is the recent close-reading analysis paper for this course. I began by carefully examining the requirements of the assignment, and creating an outline of criteria gleaned from D2L and the blog site. I then photocopied the chosen passage from the primary source material pertaining to the assignment, to allow for detailed analysis. With the outline as a guide, I engaged a careful step-by-step analysis of the Shakespearean passage, based on the assignment suggestions. At the suggestion of the guidelines, I engaged in several analysis sessions on separate days. This information was compiled in notation on the photocopy, as well as more detailed note-taking in a notebook.

Immersing myself in the analysis allowed me to conclude that the passage was meant to simulate fearful anticipation in the audience, by using poetic techniques. Alliterative sounds were jarring and percussive to the ear, which would invoke the fearful sounds one would hear before the battle. The stakes of the coming battle would have caused fearful fantasizing in the English, so a mythical element was created with supernatural metaphor, personification, and simile. After several rounds of analysis and editing, I was confident that I had explored the facets of proof which were fundamental to my argument.

Analysis of my technique for shifting from evidence to argument, has led to the conclusion that my method is both pragmatic and thorough.

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.

Jordin Cummings: Notes Reflection

In order to properly evaluate my annotation practices when reading a play text, I decided to do what I did for my close reading paper but with Act IV Scene I of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

In comparison to the start of the semester my note taking skills have greatly evolved. I am no longer afraid to write little notes anywhere in the book. On the other-hand, larger notes still belong on sticky pads! I have greatly expanded my knowledge of various poetic terms and elements and that has made it easier to really breakdown the text. In only 128 lines of play text I was able to identify the blank verse and iambic pentameter rhythm along with multiple structural, linguistic and semantic terms.

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Annotating Play Text 

My note taking process is very methodical and almost always follows the same routine in regards to an assignment.

  • Step One: Write out the basics. What is the assignment? What are the texts? What is the question?
  • Step Two: Have you read the text? No? Read it.
  • Step Three: What are your general thoughts on the text?
  • Step Four: Close read the text in relation to the question. Annotated. Highlight things to be defined.
  • Step Five: Expand your annotated notes; what are your thoughts now? Write out definitions.

After all of that my notes are very comprehensive. I know they are successful because when I go to complete an assignment everything is clearly laid out for me. If I effectively teach the material back to someone or try to explain my discovered concept I also know I have absorbed what I took down. In comparison to my practices for a play text, my annotation skills when I watch a film are not as formulated.

To properly evaluate my annotation practices for a film I chose the 2013 Carlei Romeo & Juliet as I have never seen it before. I chose to focus on a specific section, what would be Act IV Scene I in the play text. I chose this portion of the movie because the first thing I would do when annotating a film on Shakespeare would be to read the text first so I can get a sense of where I am at in the real story. This was especially helpful as this version of Romeo and Juliet cuts the whole interaction with Paris. After reading the text I would watch the movie. Just watch; no annotating. I want to be able to just watch without searching in the same way I would read a text to get a feel for it first.

After reading the text and watching the film I would make notes on the basics of the film. What did I watch? How is it different from the text? Then I can try watching it again with more attention to detail. The unfortunate thing with annotating a film is that the film moves at a continuous pace whereas annotating does not. I find myself pausing an going back just so I can catch something and write it down. Annotating a film definitely takes a lot longer!

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Annotating Film

In almost 5 minutes of film and one scene I was able to closely review and really get a feel for the directors take on this play. I found the best way to identify key elements Carlei used in his film was to pause when I saw something of interest, take note of the time, and then make a simple note to clue me into what I had found. I know this way of annotating a film works for me because if I needed to explain the film to someone I would have seen it many times in close detail. I also know this way works because if I needed to further expand my notes or write a paper on the film I would have detailed annotations with timestamps for quick reference. It would be very easy to apply terms such as Samuel Crowl’s in Shakespeare and Film to the ideas I’d found.

Although my practices of annotation have greatly evolved in regards to both film and play text, I have realized through this reflection that I definitely prefer to annotate a text!

 

Works Cited

Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare and Film. Norton, 2007.

Romeo & Juliet. Directed by Carlo Carlei, performances by Hailee Steinfield and Paul Giamatti, D Films, 2013, 1:15:20-1:19:52.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Folger Digital Texts, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, pp. 92-96, http://www.folgerdigitaltexts.org/download/pdf/Rom.pdf, Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.