Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Take two: What is style?

After reviewing my blog posts for the semester, I have come to the conclusion that while my definition of style hasn't changed astronomically after taking this class, my understanding of it has. For example, while I could have pick out bad writing before, I now have the tools and vocabulary to explain and understand why it is bad (thank you, S&W and W). Similarly, while I previously would have be willing to argue for the validity of comic books as an art form/writing style, I now have solid foundations to explain why that is. In addition, this class has given me first hand experience in activities I would have been unlikely to tackle on my own, such as creating a writing technology and re-working a style rule. These projects (and the subsequent reflection upon them) has forced me, in many ways, to broaden my definition writing (and the style rules that define it) and consider the ways in which I use it in entirely different lights.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

peer review recap part 4

So far this semester, we've spent a lot of time reflecting on the peer review process. My initial post on the subject were hesitant, though supportive. My last post on the subject was a bit more critical, as I concluded that peer review was good for an ego boost and catching grammatical errors. After participating in the process for a fourth time, I have to say that I'm only finding it more useless. I still feel that its strengths lie in positive feedback and piddly error correction. As I sat down to write this final review, though, I was struck by how much easier it would have been just to complete the process with pen and paper-- I'm pretty sure I would have received better feedback that way, as googledocs and wetpaint are just clunky editors. Don't get me wrong, I will leave this class with a new love of googledocs-- but for using google docs to share and collaborate, not edit. These programs weren't really designed to do this, and they don't really do it well, and as such some comments that would have been quick in the paperandink world were simply left out, as it would have been more work than it was worth to annotate the document meaningfully or correctly.
Over all, I really like the idea of peer review. However, I think it would be more worth while process if we content guidelines (aka Rubric) to base our judgments on, and perhaps done on paper and not the internet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Connections

Relating the moving making process to the texts we have read in class will be a distinctly creative process. I think McCloud will be most useful since he's already looking at pictures as text. I've thought about a couple of connections here, dealing with how we relate to images using closure--for example, I'm thinking about how I wore a mask to play the "essay" in our short movie changed the way the audience relates to the movie because there's more room for imagination and less mirror-like reflection of self. I also think that our other choices of costumes to fulfill stereotypes falls in this category as well. I can also see connections to the YouTube texts through arguing that the process of making a video (at least a semi scripted one with a topic like ours) induces a type of learning because it requires the use of an out of the ordinary, through, thought process. I could also see making connections to the writing process here, perhaps using picturing texts, dealing with the similar considerations of audience, purpose, subject and style that are universal to most forms of creation, writing and movie making included.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the youtube delimma and other related ideals.

So far, I think that the movie making process has, in many ways been congruous to the writing process. The process is much the same: brainstorming, planning, introduction, body and conclusion. However, i have noticed a very distinct difference in the process of creating a movie and writing an essay, particularly within the context of upper level lit/English classes: we're not expected to be good at making movies. In fact, in many cases, the worse we are at it the better, because the goofiness of it act of a situational inside joke that is funny because all the participants know one another and the nuances of the course for which its being made. However, when I write an essay for these classes, I am expected to be somewhat of an expert, and as such, turning in an essay in which I was goofy and situational with no real regard for a larger audience would be completely unacceptable. As such, on the surface, moving-making is an easier task in this context: wtihout grandiouse expectations for its maechanics, there's no real need for refinement or gaurenteed clarity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

peer review recap part 3

After reading my own previous peer review recaps and some of my colleagues, I found that our entries mostly say the same sorts of things: I found the process to be sort of helpful; there were some glitches editing on line (Jeff, Hannah, and Mike all seem to be on board with me here). However, since this blog assignment asks us to look more critically at the process as a whole, I logged back in to Wetpaint and my first Google docs group to look at what comments were actually made on not only my work, but others as well. I found that the peer editing process is really good for two things:

1. An ego boost.
There are a lot of "great paper!" or "good start!" 's flying around out there. Which, is nice. I had 4 different people tell me my Style paper was some variation on "good". It was nice to see, but apparently not correct, as after receiving my graded paper back the professor, my grade did not reflect the sorts of overwhelmingly nice comments I received in the peer review process. I can't fault people for doing this though; they probably do think it's a great start. I think this significant drawback to the process could be eliminated if Professor Krause gave us some sort of rubric to work with that we could base our judgments off of while we peer review. I'm thinking the most base form of rubric, some thing like "to score top points on this paper, you need to make clear connections to both texts discussed in class. Mulitple examples will be given and explained fully.... yada yada details only krause could give." That way, we could meaningfully judge our peers work.

2. Grammar. Since good content is relatively subjective given that we don't know what its expected outside of our own expectations for "good", a majority of the feedback given is gramatical. Commas, excess words, and capitalization are caught in abundance. Which, is of course, useful, espically since these things often slip past the author because they're familar enough with the work to know what should be there.

Peer reviewtake three hasn't really been much different from this. As much as I really like the idea of peer review, in retrospect I think we need more information and guideance to make it a truely meaningful process.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

McCloud-ian comics, part II

for this assignment, I chose to look at Mike's blog. The comic he analyzed is called Player Vs Player. The "episode" he looked at involves a the accidental stabbing of a security guard mistaken for a vampire.
Mike commented that he liked the fact that the comic was black and white. I tend to agree: while I wasn't at all taken by the comic he chose I can almost guarantee that I would have liked it less in color. I think this is because of something Scott McCloud (the comic-theorist-god) points out in his chapter on color: "With out the emotional impact of single-color saturation, the expressive potential of American color comics was often canceled out to an emotional gray"(188). This really struck a chord with me, as a tend to dislike action comics for their over saturation of color. I think that McCloud must be on to something with this, as both Mike and I prefer the black and white, and it was briefly discussed in class that the comics with intense line and color in the paper were often skipped by many students in the class. Not quite related to what Mike had to say, but still relevant: that McCloud quote concerning color suddenly explained to me why I eventually found reading things like this

From Daniel Clowes' Ghostworld

comparatively comfortable: the single color use and thin lines are far less jarring than their over-saturated action-hero counterparts. That, and I'm a cutting-edge bitch too, so I can relate.
I realize that this is a complete aside, but I feel its an important observation if we're talking about the theory of comics and their perceived prestige in society.

Back to Mike.

In his discussion of PvsP, Mike doesn't really explore the relationship between the words and the images, which is what struck me as most compelling about this strip. All four panels are, according to McCloud, Word specific-- the words convey the meaning of the strip by themselves and the images simply illustrate without lending any tangible meaning (153). This seemed odd to me, as some pretty exciting stuff happens in these four panels but we don't get to see any of it, just read about it and look at people discussing instead.

Reading and writing about comic ala McCloud

The comic I chose to read is "The Silencer", an online comic by Mike Heronime and Tony Pacitti. The Comic is about two boys who find a briefcase containing a gun-with a silencer- while fishing. It can be found here.

Things McCloud might like to talk about here:

1.Gutters. I really like the choice of panel contents in the segment I have included above. Specifically, I like the intentional-ness of it: this easily could have been on panel, but its not. Instead, a transition is created between the active bicycle and the emotive face, creating two separate foci or actions. On a broader scope, transitions are a very interesting aspect of this comic. Because it is published online, the author can control how much of the story a reader sees at once, in way that wouldn't be as effective (emotionally or cost) on the page. In this case, the reader is often only given one frame or panel at a time, and it requires action on the part of the reader to see the next one. On the surface, I could see how McCloud would argue that this pushes "The Silencer" in to his "cartoon not comic dammit" category. However, I would argue that the internet changes the medium-- and our definition slightly. I think that because the individual panels are intended-- and indeed require-- to be read together, the fact that they are presented on different pages does not discount them from inclusion of our comic definition. Instead, I would argue that the web allows for "infinite gutters", requiring more closure and direct participation from the reader, not eliminating the need for it.

2. Real vs. ideal. "The Silencer" uses an intriguing combination of realistic and idealistic images. In the example above, the use of shading and gradation creates a fairly realistic body, and the straight lines of the bicycle add to the effect. However, the wobbly looking wheels and relatively simplified face adds a distinctly "cartoonish" quality to it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

peer review recap pt. II

I think on the whole, this peer review was far more useful for me. I got a lot of good comments on this paper, far more than the last one. However, I found it far more difficult to use the wetpaint program to edit than google docs. I really liked the highlighting and comment features in google docs found myself trying to re-create those features in wet paint and just becoming frustrated. I did like the "thread" feature, as it forced me to leave more detailed comments. On the whole, I like google docs much better for editing. The other issue that came up was ensuring a equal level of commenting on all papers. On the one hand, I think it worked out better than the small groups method, because I wasn't reliant on 3 specific people to comment, and so I personally received more feedback of a higher quality. However, some people didn't get any comments at all, which would have rendered this whole activity useless for them, and probably would have felt particularly unfair if they commented on other papers. Side note, I was really surprised how many people didn't have an essay up. I probably would have edited more, had they been there.

(Hannah, you've put too much pressure on me. I can't think of one witty thing. Not one!
so.....Here's my little sister flying.

Think about that.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

what are others saying?

While reading others class blogs, I was really surprised by how much support Williams has. Now, I realize that my blog comparing the two was somewhat grandiose, and perhaps even silly, but only one other person to comedown on the side of Strunk and White. Byron declares "If I were to compare Strunk and White's book to Williams, I would easily say that despite the grumpy and doddering old man feel the Strunk and White have, I like their book far better than Williams"... maybe I'll make us tee-shirts. A few people mentioned in their "what are people saying" entry that they agreed with my comparison of S&W V. Williams, their own comparisons clearly favored Williams. Ashley W makes a good point for Williams: "When I actually understand why something is supposed to be a done a certain way, it makes it much easier for me to do it in that manner. The book explains each example almost too much". That was something I hadn't thought about-- I really do tend to like rules more when I understand the why of them, and Williams certainly does explain. I also, as you may have guessed, agree with the "too much" statement as well.

Monday, October 6, 2008

game point: Stunk N White V Joe Williams

I'm going to be honest: I Love Strunk and White. Sure, they're not perfect. You could say they have a fair amount of incomplete passes: 'write clearly' and 'avoid a breezy manner' are arguably and ironically not clear. But, they're the home team. Yeah, you could argue that men over 80 shouldn't be playing the game at all, and if you did, I wouldn't blame you.
(I didn't think this sports analogy through very well.)
So, if Strunk and White are the aging, ailing, fiesty home team, then Williams is a pretentious army of star players that arrive in a gleaming sliver bus with their own referrees. They play dirty, rough, never get grass stains on their knees and are self referent to their own greatness.

who do you want to play ball against?

I'm not going to argue with the drawbacks of S&W that we have discussed thoroughly in class. I know, its true, 'write clearly' is not a clear rule. Williams, on the other hand, has an entire chapter devoted to how one can achieve clarity in writing. This is, clearly, more clear. But personally, Williams was just too prescriptive. He's overwhelming. There are too many too specific rules that in the end make me grind my teeth, tap my foot and grow a headache. As the icing on the cake, after an hour of trudging my way through a chapter the end would read "but these are just guides. Ultimately, you need to figure it out for yourself". At which point, steam blew out my ears and I sincerely wondered why I bothered fighting my way through his rules if it ultimately was my call anyhow.

So, I prefer S&W's short commands that are accessible and come ready for interpretation. Because, as Williams acknowledges, that's what I'm going to have to do anyway.

And yes, I know that I could learn some plays from Williams gleaming army. After dissecting them in class, I understand that it is useful to be mindful of character and verb; to specifically arrange the information in my sentences. It will probably improve my passing. But I will never paint my face, stomp my feet and roar at a Williams game. So there.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Revising consentual sexual relationships with Williams.

The original policy on consensual sexual conduct in Eastern's course catalog:

"[1]Sexual relations (which includes contact of a sexual nature) or requests for sexual relations between students and faculty members with whom they also have a current instructional or evaluative relationship are fraught with the potential for exploitation and must be avoided, and are prohibited. [2]The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in an instructional or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect. [3]In their relationships with students, members of the faculty are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism or bias."

I think this whole paragraph exercises what Williams calls "the institutional passive"(39)-- using the passive voice to sound formal and collective. However, I think it's pretty ineffective in this passage and thus should be changed.

My revised version reads:
[1b] Sexual relations (or requests for sexual relations) between faculty members and their current students are prohibited because of the distinct opportunity for exploitation. [2b] A claim of voluntary student consent would be suspect since the instructor is in a position of power and students trust and respect faculty members. [3b] As such, the university expects that faculty members act professionally and responsibly to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias.

1- This sentence is waaay to long. It uses too many clauses with too many modifiers. The initial idea--sexual relations-- is then defined it two more ways, when at most two of those are necessary (as i rewrote it) and one would likely be sufficient. The next part of this sentence is confusing due to the long list of abstract/modifying words used to describe the teacher/student relationship, "with whom they also have", and then goes off the deep end entirely with the use of "fraught" (this is a policy, you want it to be as accessible as possible!) and the unnecessary and confusing repetition of "must be avoided and are prohibited". Prohibited is clearly sufficient.

2- This sentence has many of the same problems as the one before it. It's passive, and wordy. The actual subject of the sentence, student consent, isn't introduced until the very end of the sentence, which Williams discusses as inappropriate in his discussion of beginnings and endings. So I moved the subject to the beginning, and the new information to the end of the sentence. This cleared up most of the wordyness, as many of the extra words were working tolerate the beginning of the sentence to the end.

3- The original sentence is unnecessarily passive, which makes it confusing. The root of this, I think, is that there is no "character" to do any expecting of faculty, so I gave the verb a do-er, the university. This allowed me re phrase the sentence in more active voice. Williams recommends very careful use of passives, and I think this is a good example of that. (pg 37)

in closing, turgid.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mr. Strunk and Mr. White in the essay

Two Strunk and white elements that I agree with:
fifteen and sixteen

Two Strunk and white elements that I disagree with:
eleven and nine

peer review recap 1

I found the process of peer review to be moderately helpful.

I like reading other people's writing, and it often helps me structure my thoughts better. I found it useful to have access to other peoples take on the same topic.

the comments I received were relatively sparse; I'm sure there was a greater volume to be said about it.

the feedback I left was perhaps too specific, I'm sort of worried that the owners of the papers may find my comments too critical. There were often more to say than i said, but i refrained for fear of offending people or appearing a nit-picky knowitall. On the other hand, I wish I had received some very detailed, nit-picky comments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Technologies.

Writing technologies I use on a regular basis:
--Computer Word processing, specifically MS Word
--Pen and paper
--Pencil and paper

All three have very distinct applications, and are not necessarily interchangeable.
I use Word almost exclusively for writing essays for school, and I compose directly in the program, for ease, speed and other reason that sound like they belong in an appliance ad. Pen and paper has two sets of uses for me. First, I use it for noting, both formally in class in informally, i.e. grocery lists. Second, I use pen and paper for personal writing of prose, poetry and venting genres. Though it is on the whole the same technology, I prefer specific materials for doing each-- for class I use a medium point ball point pen and college ruled paper. I find both wide rule and flowing ink pens terrible for note taking. for list making and other more casual notes, I prefer light weight paper, unlined-- I love those 99¢ glue-bound scratch pads that inevitably fall apart. When writing for myself, I use flowing ink pens and much prefer a heavier weight paper; I generally write in sketchbooks designed to hold charcoal and ink. Pencil is reserved for instances where I know I will erase; math, particularly, but also occasionally for in-class essays and nearly always for drawing. I tend to dislike it for other uses because eventually it will smear.
My preferred technologies haven't so much changed over time as they have grown more specific. I think it's fair to say that I have always done most of my writing in pen and pencil (with the occasion crayon, marker, and stick of sidewalk chalk thrown in for good measure) and have just developed the the nerdiness and and love of words on the page to have conscious and exact preferences regarding materials.
It would seem that word processing is the intended catch here. I would imagine that between five and ten years ago, people of my age would have had much to say about how the word processor has changed their life. However, I have more or less grown up with the darn thing. Moreover, I did indeed use it as a kid, not just for school but also for my childhood nerd-ling endeavors such as making a "neighborhood newsletter" that I proudly distributed to all six houses on the country road I grew up on.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What Is Style?

Most simply, of course, "style" is a manner of doing something. As far as I'm concerned though, style has two distinct parts that are, I admit, somewhat incongruous.

The first part is perhaps the most obvious or general, and the easiest to apply in a broad variety of situations: I would argue that style most usually is not just a manner of doing something, but a distinct or individuating manner of doing something. This can be applied as a grouping method (eg, "he wrote in the style of beat poets") or singling ( eg "I recognized the style and immediately knew that my sister had written it"). While we're discussing style in reference to writing, this interpretation also applies to oh, just about everything else that's subjective: clothes, music, art, hair, couches, etc.

The second aspect I would argue is inherent to style is a sense of prescription or uniformity. Mostly, my initial reference here was the MLA style guide: though we all have our own unique "style" of writing, we all adhere to a set of rules. While we can easily see how "style" refers to individuating factors, I believe that it's just as important to acknowledge that "style" also references conforming guidelines. Inherent to "style" is a sense of both specificity and collectivity. this aspect, too, can be applied more generally, however, I imagine that it would be received on the whole with much more resistance than the first point.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3:02 pm

...and the assigned blog was born.