Dear Writing Program Assessment Committee Members,
My name is Iliyan Sherali, a first-year student at Emory University. In this letter, I will be providing you with an insight into my writing journey and all the various things I have learned about reading and making comics along with improving my skills as a writer. When I initially chose this course I had reservations since I did not have positive writing experiences in my high school and I believed that I still had much to learn before. I doubted my writing and drawing abilities and was fearful of failure in this class. However, I set aside my apprehensions and let my passion for comics guide me in this class. However, this class has equipped me with certain skills and strategies to strengthen my writing, analyze and evaluate texts and understand how to critically think about situations which I will continue to use in the future.
The first assignment that I encountered in this class comprised of three parts which were Literacy Narrative One, Two, and Three. The first part of this process prompted me to write an essay about my experiences in writing and reading. Once I had written this entire essay, I received feedback from the professor, and I realized I was far from a perfect narrative. One of the paragraphs expressed my struggle with writing “As a writer, I feel like a huge struggle that I have had to deal with is expressing my thoughts and being able to get a coherent idea flowing. Structure and grammar are two other things that I struggle with”. What I realized with the help of my professor is that I had not included organization or development of the text i.e. background information to convey my idea to my specific audience. This included the history of my high school curriculum and how it restricted me from writing and expressing my ideas freely due to a strict format. I had not included crucial details which were instrumental to my narrative. Thus I decided to implement these changes in later parts of my assignment. The second part of this assignment was Literacy Narrative 2 where I had to use my essay to form a comic. This was an entirely new experience for me since I had never drawn a comic before. However, this class provided me with different tools to focus on such as choice of words, flow, frame, image, etc. Visualizing my writing made it easier for me to convey a storyline. I thought about how many panels I will utilize, and how I will use the gutters in the comic to my advantage and use them to convey certain information that was not apparent by the images. Moreover, this assignment also involved peer review to assess the comic and make changes to improve it. A line of feedback that I received was “I suggest a more chronological storyline so it can be followed better”. Comments like these guided me in a direction to improve my comic. Literacy Narrative 3 then prompted me to go back to my initial essay and make amends to the structure and the style of my essay after having a visual representation in front of me. I realized that the comic helped me reframe my writing and helped me gather my thoughts to make a more cohesive and organized narrative. This assignment which was broken up in multiple parts made me aware of how building a successful essay requires “multiple drafts” and how it takes a whole process to perfect an essay.
Another vital assignment that helped me with the learning outcomes of the class was my assignment called “Tracing Pages”. This assignment required me to first trace the page and then use this tracing to analyze the scene in the comic and its significance to the story as a whole. This assignment helped me “practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection.” I had to use the information from discussions in the classrooms and other analytical skills as a tool to analyze the importance of this scene and what it portrayed. While I was tracing the pages I realized the mindset the author was placed in and how he chose these different panels and words for the characters to portray this particular scene. It helped me reflect on the whole scene and the breakdown of each character. We also had to incorporate a line from Hillary Chute’s essay “Comic for Grownups?” and I chose this one, “In which the words and the images each move the narrative forward in different ways the reader creates out of the relationship between the two. How one ought to read comics often feels like an open question-which it is.” I resonated most with this line because it focused on the underlying idea of my essay of how a comic moves with the significance between the words and images. This assignment helped me learn how to cite others’ work in my essay and use it to reinforce my argument.
Halfa Kucha was an assignment that required us to make a timed presentation for three minutes and twenty seconds with ten slides meaning each slide would be presented for twenty seconds. I found this assignment to be very hard to execute because it put a time limit on my slides which I had never done before. There were some slides that I wanted to talk more about and some slides that I did not have enough information on but I was made to spend an equal distribution of time on each of the slides. This assignment taught me how to manage my time efficiently and keep my information brief and to the point. I used different pictures of the comics to critically analyze themes of trauma and healing that were present in both comics “Stitches” and “Kindred”. This assignment was not like others since it was based more on my presentation skills and my ability to present my views on the readings using only a visual aid. It also allowed me to hear different perspectives of the same scene of the comic from my peers which opened my mind up to different ideas. It allowed us to collaborate and discuss views on certain scenes.
Sunday Sketches were small assignments that we were made to complete, and these were very different in nature then our usual assignments. One sketch that stood out to me was one where I was made to take notes visually for another class. When I attempted this assignment, I realized that I was more of a visual learner than I thought I was. Hence in my other classes i.e., in sociology when I was trying to write a research paper, I tried to visualize concepts that I had to talk about in my paper including class differences and differences in social structure based on education levels and income levels. I made small drawings and doodles that made ideas appear more clearly in my head. This eventually led to a clearer picture of my paper and thus I could flawlessly execute the thoughts that I wanted to present. Moreover, the reflections that we were made to write for each Sunday Sketch helped me reflect on my work and summarized everything I have learned.
In conclusion, I believe this class exposed me to a new genre of writing in the form of comics. Visualization has played a huge role in enhancing my knowledge and making me understand concepts. I believe this class has equipped me with the critical thinking ability and analysis tools to successfully navigate my path in writing. I still have yet to learn in my writing career, but this class has set a trajectory for me to a successful writing career in the future.