This portfolio serves as a showcase of the ways my writing has improved over the course of the semester. Going into this semester, I was unsure of my abilities as a writer in the context of papers like the ones we covered in this class. I encountered many challenges as I tried to frame a problem and develop a paper out of that problem; yet I found I was able to meet each challenge, albeit sometimes more successfully than others. I have discovered that a detailed outline is absolutely key to my writing process, and without one, I often struggle to develop a paper that is organized and cohesive. Throughout the semester, I’ve also found that the contents of my papers have improved. I am now better at picking apart the language and context of passages in close reading, a skill I didn’t have enough confidence in at the start of the class. By design, each paper presented new skills to master, yet the subject of each paper sometimes presented more difficulties for me than the skills I was learning.   Partially because it was our first assignment, I found the close reading paper to be somewhat more challenging that the historical/contextual paper that followed it. The Marxist/New Historicist Critique also proved to be difficult, as I struggled with the theory in that particular unit.

My ability to revise my classmates’ papers has also improved. My comments prior to this class tended to be very superficial and basic, usually involving the flow and grammar of the writing as opposed to the actual content.  I have found that both my own writing and my ability to provide useful peer reviews have both improved during the course of this class.

When examining the contents of my portfolio, I ask that the reader examine the outlines that I have compiled in relation to the quality of the final essay. Certain outlines were better than others, though the quality has no correlation to the point in the semester at which it was written. The quality of the outline and the paper has much more to do with the topic being explored, and the close reading that I was able to do prior to the outline. I have included my Close Reading Essay, the Historical/Contextual Draft, The Psychoanalytic Essa, and the Feminist Critique in this portfolio, and links can be found below.

The Close Reading Essay, which discusses the relationship and balance of power between Prospero and Caliban, and how Prospero’s past may have affected it.

The Historical/Contextual Essay, which discussed the way that colonialism as portrayed in the Tempest affects the reader’s understanding of Caliban as a character.

The Psychoanalytic Essay, which used psychological theory created by Freud to discuss Ophelia’s state of Melancholia, her suicide, and the causes of it.

The Feminist Critique Essay, which discussed the sexism that Ophelia faced throughout Hamlet, and the ways that sexism caused her madness and her suicide.

By exploring the various parts of Literary Criticism over the semester, my problem solving and writing have made major improvements. I believe that my portfolio reflects that.