On the first day of this class, we were asked about the value of literature and literary analysis. At the time, my answer consisted of how literature can be an escape into new and interesting places and how it can introduce us to new ideas and, for lack of a better word, things. Since that day, I have come to more greatly value this second part about knowledge, not just in literature but also in literary analysis. This delves into the heart of why I love English and my work on this portfolio has only furthered this love.
Initially, I believed this portfolio to be simply a way to show growth in my writing ability. However, it has become more than that to me, now being more of a reflection not only of my ability to write, but also my ability to analyze and interpret new things. While I was familiar with both plays we were analyzing through the semester, much of the theory we looked through was foreign to me. Thus, stringing new ideas together became just as important as being able to string together words on the page.
This portfolio also prompted me to two things I never really did before: my writing and my own life. In each work, I tried to incorporate more thoroughly how what I was writing about could affect me, society or humanity. And while this typically had to do with the theory we were writing on, it forced me to look at everything in new ways. For example, the poststructural critique introduced me to ideas about gender theory that I had never previously learned about or considered. It’s led to me assessing my own gender identity and how I act. This to me is why the portfolio, as well as literary analysis, is important.
There are a few things I hope this portfolio is reflective of to readers. The first is that writing is an ongoing process. This class has pushed me to do more revision and reflection on my writing than any other class. Previously, very rarely would I have drafts for a paper or look at them after I had turned them in. This is reflective not just on my mindset on the subjects of the papers, but about writing itself as well. Now, however, looking back on these essays and drafting them out has helped me greatly, especially because of things such as peer and instructor comments.
The second reflective thing is that writing sometimes does not work out. I only revised the final drafts of four essays, not all six. I simply did not feel that the two other essays were working, and that is okay. Not everything we write needs to go somewhere and be perfect. That idea coupled with the first on drafting and reflection has drastically changed how I look at the process. I don’t simply write the paper the day before it is due and try to achieve only what the professor wants. I try new ideas and to go my own direction with them.
In regards to progress, I do believe that I have made much on my writing skills and how I think about writing. Learning how to expand beyond the typical argumentative paper, for example, into other forms of analysis has definitely influenced how I write for my other classes and even how I give advice in my job as a writing consultant. However, what I do believe I have both made progress on and need to continue to work on is how I incorporate evidence and how I come up with my claims. Prior to this class, the main way I went about this was to think of a claim that sounds plausible and fits how I view something. From there, I would try and come up with evidence-based arguments for why my claim works, often without considering other ways of thinking about it or even if my argument worked fully. A good example of this can be seen in my Close Reading paper. However, this class taught me to ask a question first, to ask why something is the way it is. And while it can be hard for me to do, I have tried harder and harder as the semester went on to start with this. I will elaborate more on my progress within the process portfolio for each draft.
Overall, this portfolio is a measure of my growth, both in my writing skills and in my intellectual experience. It has pushed me not only to learn new ideas and styles of writing, but also to address and try and solve common problems within my own writing. And while I still may not be perfect, this is one of the truths this portfolio has taught me. There will always be ways to improve or think about my work. However, this portfolio demonstrates my ability to grow, as well as my love of writing.