Process Portfolio

The process portfolio documents the transformation of each of the six essays written for my ENGL 305: Literary Theory and Writing (Fall 2016) course. It includes copies of all drafts and related work to my essays including proposals, abstracts, blog posts, and brief descriptions of the changes made from the first draft to the final draft. Of these essays, four of the final drafts are featured in my presentation portfolio.

 

Close Reading

My close reading essay on Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland initially focused on Alice’s use of Wonderland as an imaginary construct for exploring her own emotional reactions and understandings of herself and the world as she undergoes the transformation from innocence to adulthood. In addition to a bit of general polishing, my essay eventually became more fine-tuned in terms of my thesis statements and topic sentences. Overall, I expanded my thesis to encompass all of the more complex topics I included in the body of my essay. I later cleaned up and related my topic sentences back more clearly to that thesis statement. By my final draft, my thesis statement came to include not only Alice’s loss of innocence, but her journey toward finding her identity and her realization of the world’s imperfection.

Click here to see my Close Reading Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my Close Reading Writing Blog

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 Summary and Evaluation

My summary and evaluation essay consisted of four major parts: an abstract of Iser’s How to Do Theory, a keyword search of Graff’s Taking Cover in Coverage, and a summary and evaluation of Eagleton’s Introduction: What is Literature?. The thesis of my evaluation on Eagleton was my agreement toward his argument that literature cannot be defined due to ideology, which is evidenced by the corruption of educational power structures who attempt to define literature for students as I had experienced in high school. Throughout the course of the revisions, several minor edits were made. The abstract was “cleaned up” to make it tighter and more succinct. A small formatting error was adjusted in the keyword search. Transition sentences between paragraphs were created and internal transition words/phrases were made clearer. In the evaluation, grammatical errors (ie: subject agreement in pronouns) were fixed, the thesis was made less wordy and more concise, and additional concrete examples and clarifications of explanations were added in the body.

Click here to see my Summary and Evaluation Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my Summary and Evaluation Writing Blog

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 Pyschoanalysis

My psychoanalytic essay focuses on Edna Pontellier’s fatal quest to find herself using Jungian principles in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. More specifically, my essay analyzes the use of the elements syzygy, the mask, and the archetypes of shadow, anima and animus, and Self within the context of the novel. Edna’s need for syzygy, or unity, is portrayed in her struggle to balance the social expectations placed upon her as wife and mother with her longing for independence. Meanwhile, her mask, or false appearance, acts against her independence and further forces her to conform to female gender norms. Edna’s shadow, or dark side, is her inner conflict toward being a bad mother to her children as well as being trapped in her unhappy marriage. Edna’s passionate sexual desire for Robert serves as yet another form of her personal completion through the unity of the anima and animus, or oppositely-gendered parts within a person. Perhaps most importantly, Edna searches to find her Self, as shown by her development throughout the novel via her spiritual awakenings. Aside from some formatting corrections to my MLA citations and a few grammatical changes, most of the editing in my revision consisted of bolstering the thesis. I did this by adding to my thesis statement that Edna’s quest to find herself was unsuccessful and added evidence of this throughout the essay in order to make a more complete, concrete claim about the piece of literature rather than simply pointing out the presence of Jungian principles.

Click here to see my Psychoanalytic Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my Psychoanalytic Writing Blog

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Feminist

My feminist essay analyzes how in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass Alice returns to the imaginary world of Wonderland to explore the real-life social ideology behind women’s social status in society; meanwhile, her journey demonstrates the negative influence society’s ideology has on the minds of girls transitioning into adulthood. Throughout the novel, Alice encounters many challenging characters and events that serve to reveal much about women’s position in society and allow Alice to formulate her own opinions about feminism as she battles to become a powerful Queen in a man-dominated world. Through revisions, I improved the quality of my essay by clarifying my arguments in my thesis and topic sentences, adding more feminist theory sources to bolster the feminist criticism, expanding deeper in analyses of gender roles, incorporating dialogue from another feminist critic, strengthening transitions, and cleaning up confusing wording.

Click here to see my Feminist Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my Feminist Writing Blog

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New Historical

My New Historical essay on Chopin’s The Awakening examines how the conflict hidden within the New Orleans Creole culture serves as the ideal setting to drive Edna Pontellier’s feminist awakening. Although much time and effort went into researching and writing this essay, it did not make it into my presentation portfolio due to its lack of a clear and narrow focus (as pointed out by my professor’s numerous notes on the first draft). Overall, the essay could use a complete rewriting, which is why there are no revisions included beyond the first draft (due to time constraints as the end of the semester approached while coinciding with the due date of the reader response essay). Although this essay did not turn out to be the great product I thought it would be, I did learn a few things from the experience: 1) it is always an excellent idea to let others review your writing in case it is not as great as you may have thought, and 2) sometimes it is better to take a loss in a piece and accept your shortcomings–no matter how hard or long you worked on it.

Click here to see my New Historical Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my New Historical Writing Blog

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Reader Response

My Reader Response essay takes a deeper look at how a reader’s identity influences their interpretation of a text, using their own imagination to fill in the indeterminant gaps within the work. Much of what a reader understands from a piece of literature comes from their predisposition, which results from their varying identity themes and the certain interpretive communities they are a part of. In this way not only do people have different views of what is taking place within with the work, but their personal transaction also why they find the text valuable. Additionally, reader response theory offers an explanation as to why often when a work is translated into live performances such as plays and film, it simply can’t seem to fulfill the audience’s expectations. This essay began as a dialogue on how “ghost chapters” in the plot and language are filled by the reader, however it then turned to a much more interesting examination of how the reader becomes one with the text. In revisions, I simply clarified my thesis statement and topic sentences to fully capture the content of my arguments.

Click here to see my Reader Response Essay Process Portfolio

Click here to see my Reader Response Writing Blog