Reflective Writer’s Statement What lies before you, I’m proud to say, is a portfolio of my writing that I have completed
this semester of my first year at the University of Notre Dame. It has taken a lot of work, but I’m proud of what I have completed and I believe that it is a fairly accurate portrayal of my writing abilities. Each one of these four pieces took a lot of work, but I think my process and writing itself has improved with each one. Each piece began with a brainstorm in order to find a topic that interested me as well as fitting the concept for the piece. This wasn’t always easy; in fact, I had quite a bit of trouble with it on multiple occasions. I just couldn’t seem to find something that I liked that seemed fitting to write about. I even emailed my professor a couple times in order to ask for help with ideas, and this turned out to be very beneficial and very helpful every time. After I finally had an idea, I would work on a rough draft. This was never easy either, I normally would just have to sit down and write and not really worry about the outcome until I had it all down on paper. This would normally take a bit of time to come up with anything good, and would be followed up with my own revisions as well as our in class revisions, getting critiqued by peers, which were always helpful. After revisions were made, I would normally ask another friend, normally someone in the class, to take a look at my paper and let me know what they thought. This step would be followed by more revisions until I felt that it was solid enough to be turned in. Lastly, after grades were given, a few more revisions on the basis of my professor’s comments had to be made before my pieces could be put in this fine portfolio. Overall I think I have grown as a writer over the course of this semester, and I would hope that my pieces got progressively better as the semester went on. I feel like each piece was a challenge, but every time I somehow managed to meet, and in a sense “conquer” the piece. In this way I feel satisfied with how I have handled the course and have grown throughout it.
We had four major essays to tackle in this class, and each one had a specific goal and set of characteristics to it. The four essays we were given were: the personal narrative, the rhetorical analysis essay, the research paper, and the visual essay. Each one of these had a different set of requirements that had to be met for it, and most of them had different mediums as well. The personal narrative was an audio based essay. The rhetorical analysis essay relied both upon a textual essay, but websites that were being analyzed as well. The research essay was textually based, and the visual essay relied, as implied, mostly on elements such as pictures and videos with much less emphasis on text. The personal narrative was an essay in which we recorded ourselves telling a story about our lives that was integral, or at least somewhat important, to who we are today. I was very unaware of all the technology at my disposal before this class. Of course I had used Microsoft Word before; and I had done a couple PowerPoint presentations, but never had I recorded myself on the computer, especially never for anything major. Here we are, right off the bat, “Go record yourself telling a story about yourself, and then turn it in for a grade.” What? I had to go download software off the internet, which I didn’t really know I could do for free; and now use it as a part of a class for something I’m getting graded on? Why? How? What? Some general confusion was caused as I settled into this course and got the hang of handling things like this. Learning about all these media I could use really helped me I think, and will be very beneficial in the future. Next, we were assigned the rhetorical analysis essay. The goal of this essay was to look at two websites that are portraying an individual or collective identity, and to look at how these identities are constructed rhetorically. I think this essay, along with the supplementary readings about rhetoric, are what really helped to develop my understanding of rhetoric and how to use it.
I think all of the essays display my understanding of rhetoric because they were all argumentative in some way, but this one especially focused on that rhetoric and rhetorical analysis, which helped to develop my understanding of it a lot more, and I think that is shown in the essay itself. In this essay, I looked at two players on the Chelsea FC soccer team, Didier Drogba, and Fernando Torres. I looked at their websites and the different ways in which they portrayed themselves on them. It was interesting to compare the similarities and differences on the websites and then to compare this to the similarities and differences I know about the players themselves. I rather enjoyed looking at their pages and then arguing their meanings and comparing them to each other, and I think this might be the piece of work from the semester that I am most proud of, especially because of its rather creative topic. I also think that this essay shows my strengths in that it was a rather challenging topic, but I still stuck with it and was able to present a good argument on it. The third essay was the research paper. This essay was a lot of work; from the brainstorming of an idea, to the idea proposal, to the research itself, to the writing of a draft, the hours had to be put in. This essay may have been my least favorite due to its complexity and the amount of work that was required for it. As true as this may be, I think it was a good thing to have to do because it is the essay that really developed my critical research, reading, and thinking skills this semester. I have only ever done one or two other research papers, so this one was crucial to my development as a researcher. I had to look up material from the library and other scholarly sources that would be permissible in a scholarly research argument. Not only that, but we were told to choose quite specific topics, which only made the research process harder because there will obviously be less material on specifically what you are looking for, especially if it’s a modern topic and there isn’t much scholarly information on it yet. Once sources were
found, critical reading of them was crucial to the writing process and finding material in the source that would actually support your topic. I think this essay is the one that really demonstrates these abilities in my work more than the others. The last essay was the visual essay. The goal of this essay was to create and to present an argument mostly driven by images and videos. The multimedia factor came into play here again. I was totally unaware of the PowerPoint like website Prezi.com that my partner and I ended up using for our project, as well as the fact that I had movie making software already downloaded and pre-installed on my computer. I’ve never needed that before, so I’ve never looked. I thought this was a cool assignment in that it was unconventional, and very different from a regular essay. It was definitely more fun than a regular essay, but still took as much or more work than a conventional essay would have. I was pretty proud of how this essay turned out as well, I feel like it may have been a little rushed in the end, but I was confident in it, and excited to turn it in. This and the audio essay really connected the multimedia aspect of the course to the course material because one of the main foci of the course was on identity, and the audio essay was about my personal identity, and this visual essay also had a personal aspect to it, and connected back to that first essay because they had similar topics. This last essay actually was a type of connector bringing the whole course together in the end. It related to the research paper because the topic was very similar; it related to the idea of rhetoric and the rhetorical analysis paper because we had to make and argue and idea as well as analyzing material to help us argue. And it also related to the narrative essay because the topics were rather similar again and both showed part of my identity within them. Overall this project was a good way to tie the course together at the end, and it was a more enjoyable assignment than some of the others.
Hopefully this portfolio can portray to you some characteristic of me, and give you an acceptable idea of my writing capabilities as well as my growth over this semester. Thank you for your time, and enjoy! -Nick Carpenter