I am a STEM student. For the longest time, these words pervaded my thoughts and conversations anytime the discussion of English related classes would arise. Naturally, the shade of blue I turned as I signed up for a course revolving around reading and writing was not one associated with joy. Yet, as I progressed throughout the course, I found myself learning and adapting not only as a writer but also in the manner in which I confront problem solving. In large part, the uniqueness of the course forced me to deviate from my normal thought process that more closely resembles solving a math problem. The best evidence of this adaption revolved around my handling of analyzing
Maus by Art Spiegelman. Overall though,the techniques and diverse problem analysis techniques I learned throughout this class will carry on during my academic career and in my future job ambitions.

Similarly to many students, my experience in English classes followed a predictable script. First, we would read some literary piece, either a book or poem primarily, than an essay was submitted to test our understanding of the material. The only wrinkle in this yearly circular pattern was the rare personal narrative or poem writing. While at first, this repetitive nature lead to an increase in my writing ability, over the course of time it lead to a stagnation in my level of writing as the ideas and way I wrote about followed the same circular pattern the teachers took with teaching. So, the distinct deviation that my English 101 glass brought to this pattern lead to extreme challenges and growth that I had not encountered recently. Where In a normal class each work I encountered would be a long narrative about a subject I most likely am not interested in, my course introduced graphic novels as the primary literary works. This forced me to adapt to the normal analysis techniques I would normally deploy. For example, Instead I had to not only consider the alphanumeric story being told but what the imagery is meant to convey. This was especially important when we read Spinning by Tillie Walden with the assignment being to trace some aspect of the novel that I believe to be important towards

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Image from Spinning

the story. To accomplish this, I had to morph the means in which I developed my thoughts. Normally, my focus while reading with the goal of writing a paper is to analyze the work at each stage. For this assignment, I stepped back and attempted to see the big patterns as they develop. This lead to me creating a graph to try to associate the authors “use of color [compared to] the amount of intensity” within different sections of the book. Additionally, our weakly sketch contributed to my writing and analytical skills in a way that I did not initially expect. In these assignments, I was given a prompt of something to sketch each week that was meant to

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Backpack sketch

have me look at my life and graphics in different lights.These assignments included breaking the class down into different parts that can be associated with an object or creating a short comic about a experience during my spring break. While these assignments where in no way time consuming, they forced me to look at aspects I usually would ignore. It was especially interesting to be forced during the sketch assignment that required us to analyze the contents of my backpack to see how such a trivial thing about our life could be used as a lens into who I am as a person. These assignments as a whole provided the need to look at experiences and works difference that I severely lacked in most of my other english classes. The other assignments that helped with the progression and development of the class include our literary narrative which required analysis of my relationship with english and a essay about Palestine and Pyongyang where I had to compare two graphic novels that dealt with similar topics in different ways.

 

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Throughout the whole course though, my analysis of Maus best illustrates the techniques and strategies I developed through this class. In this assignment, I first traced two pages in Maus that I believed illustrated the different techniques the Spiegelman utilizes in his novel. I then determined three visual techniques incorporated by Spiegelman and analyzed how they play into the overall work. This assignment was especially instrumental in my development as it was one of our first large assignments and represented one of the largest deviations from a traditional english assignment. With that being said, beginning this assignment posed a challenge for me as I lacked a clear understanding of where to start. I ended up choosing pages to trace first based on which pages appeared to illustrate varying panel structure. The reason for this was mostly because I thought that that would provide a good platform to start my analysis. From there, I attempted to look at different aspects of each page that utilized a similar structure and try to see how they play into the storyline of each page. After thinking of several possible techniques, I looked for evidence elsewhere in the graphic novel to modify or corroborate my original hypotheses. This process was especially helpful in developing a process for using evidence to help refine a original hypothesis. From this process, I concluded that Spiegelman utilizes “directional lines to express depth and texture”, “angels to help the story flow”, and altered character detail to express mood. From there the process was relatively standard for me as I sat down and got my thoughts on paper with little focus on word choose. This allows me to continue to develop my thoughts when I go back and edit my paper. While how I wrote the papers themselves may not have changed, the mode of thought that I deployed to accomplish this assignment was distinctly unique. By forcing me to look at details in an unformilual medium, I learned had to adapt and relay on a new process for formulating my writing topics. Even though this class may be the last time i encounter graphic novels, the technique of developing a hypothesis and using evidence to reconfigure it is something that can be used for any alphanumeric pieces as well. Also, the difficulting of expressing a visual observation in a written way forced me to consider my writing more careful. To express complicated visual techniques such as the effect of detail on characters faces, my essays required me to refine my word choice and explanations techniques to express my ideas more clearly. The strain on my writing skills and shifting of my thought process caused by Maus and more broadly this class helped me develop as a more complete writer.

 

Overall, helped lift me over the plateau that I experienced due to a english curriculum that failed to facilitate varied thought and strain push writing ability. This courses clear deviation from the status quo of my high school forced me to develop new writing techniques and ways of analyzing different pieces of information. Through this I now feel confident in analyzing different mediums and being able to express varying hypothesis in a clear and concise faction. Yet, the most significant influence this course will provide to me is its application towards other aspects of my life. Currently, I aspire to be a management consultant and through this class I now feel more prepared to inspect and propose solutions to varying problems I may encounter by applying techniques I developed to real world applications.

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