I really enjoyed making this project, it brought light to another way in which I can view books I read in the future. I didn’t think that my data would really make any sense, as my topic is kind of subjective, but it turned out to look pretty good. I used a photo of page 67 is the novel as the background for my graph, as it is a sort of “map” that relates to Tillie and the novel as a whole. I then made all of the elements of the graph either purple or yellow to continue with the overall color scheme of the novel.
For this project, I chose to count how many times Tillie Walden mentions being gay or shows interest in girls/women she is surrounded by. When I began reading the book, I noticed some fluctuation. A reader does not discover Tillie is gay until chapter 2, she completely neglects to mention this daily important piece of information in the whole entire first chapter! Not only does this seem nonchalant, but maybe even a little neglectful. Immediately, I was curious how much of a role homosexuality was going to play in this novel. While reading, I noticed after chapter 2 Tillie does make mentions of her sexuality, but not as frequently in some chapters versus others. For example, chapter six is when she has a sleepover with Rae, and chapter seven her mother finds the doodle of the two girls. These two chapters have a lot to do with Tillie’s self-esteem and personal image. She finally realizes that it is now appropriate to tell her friends and teammates that she likes girls. Tillie starts telling her peers in chapter seven. On the contrary, chapter 8 only has one mention of her sexuality, as this is the chapter that includes the encounter with the SAT tutor, and after the incident Tillie seems to shut down. After analyzing the novel, I thought it was really interesting how the book peaked in the middle when speaking about Tillie’s sexual orientation, it doesn’t seem to be a main theme in the beginning and ending of the novel.
Writing this essay was difficult to me due to the fact, that I did not know where to start and, therefore, I decided to write down all the ideas that I had and then connect them and see if I can link them to each other. I started listing similarities and differences between Palestine and Pyongyang and then I realized that I wrote down enough thoughts and ideas to start writing this essay.
The main idea of my essay is that although these two books are similar in many ways and they both use journalistic approach and effective use of vignettes, they are completely different.
Vignettes are a series of a small moments and stories that are used to construct a larger narrative. In the two graphic novels that we have read most recently, we see vignettes used to construct a kind of story that is different from our previous readings. For example, our earlier reading of Maus, which centers around a personal history. The use of vignette as opposed to a strict linear narrative is a particularly strong one given the subject matter of these two graphic novels. Pyongyang centers around an illustrator’s experience in North Korea, Palestine around a journalist in Jerusalem, Palestine. Both accounts center less around the personal story of their respective narrators and more so on the illustration of the setting. We are not given the story of one single person, though we follow the narrators throughout both graphic novels, but the story of a place and the many, often opposing people and viewpoints within the place.
The settings in these books are each in some way shrouded in mystery for many Americans. In the case of Palestine many Americans receive very limited and often biased information about the conflict and history of Palestine’s occupation. We see this in the beginning of Palestine where Sacco describes reading the story of an old Jewish man who was killed on a cruise boat by a group who claimed to have done this in the name of Palestinian liberation. Sacco describes reading the account of the man killed, and of thinking that this man sounded as though he could have been Sacco’s neighbor. The details included in this news story were what made Sacco empathize with one side and demonize the other.
This one moment alone makes a strong case for the use of vignettes as a medium to make a case or an argument. Very early on Sacco makes the point that “Americans want human interest stories”. He is essentially positing that it is harder as readers to care about dying Palestinians when we are rarely given names, much less stories, as opposed to this news story about the man on the cruise, whose name and story we are told. We are additionally told how he likes his cornflakes, and several other details that make him into a unique, specific human being in our minds. Vignettes are a way to illustrate moments in great detail, and very early on it is established in Sacco’s narrative that details are what make us care about a story or about an outcome. Delisle uses this kind of intense detail throughout Pyongyang as well. There are detailed scenes of the mundane everyday activities of the narrator, down to him noticing a blemish and picking at his skin as he writes. This kind of minutia serve to build up the character and the mood through tiny moments and actions.
However, Sacco uses detail to make us care about the history and present tragedy of Palestine. He gives us many very detailed accounts to show not only human interest, but also the multifaceted nature of the conflict. The use of vignettes to showcase something or to illuminate a story that is not already well known is what makes these two books stand apart from Maus. The story of the holocaust is one with which most people in America are familiar, and as such we can trace a single person’s story through the backdrop of a history with which we are already familiar. This one story stands against an already well-known setting and time, whereas in the case of Palestine or Pyongyang even the basic facts of the setting are unknown to many. To illustrate the setting of these pieces we are given many smaller stories that gradually illuminate the place, the time, the mood and the history of a people that are in some ways isolated from our view.
This gradual enlightening, rather than straightforward telling-of-the-facts serves to give us a more naturalistic way to present a situation. Not only in sense we see our view of these places shift gradually with the narrator’s own view, but in the sense that most situations are not built from one person’s perspective. Following one narrative through a situation is a dangerous route to take if you do not go in with incomplete context.
This essay was a joy to write. But, I will admit, I did have to think a little about the topic. However, it was actually quite easy to decide upon when I looked at the two books from a broader point of view. When doing so, I saw that, as an informational book, Palestine is far better to Pyongyang in accomplishing that purpose. This is the overarching idea of the essay.
As for drafting, I went through only two or three. Most of it was done in one go, followed by adjustments to structure and length, and then adjustments to smaller details, like grammar and spelling and the points being made. Otherwise, I didn’t really change too much. I was pretty happy with the way it was written (for now), and I think it gives the message I wanted it to give.
In order to think of my idea, as stated, I just stepped back and looked at the books as a grand idea, not as individual vignettes. What’s the purpose of the book? What do they do good? What don’t they utilize enough? Through these questions, I was able to come to the idea of giving information. As we have discussed in class, these books are somewhat journalistic, and what does journalism do? It tells a story and displays a message. So which novel did this better?
I started to break down why I believed Palestine did this purpose better than Pyongyang. For this, I had to get rid of my subjective view and attempt to view it purely in the eyes of relative objectiveness. This meant I had to ignore the ease I felt when reading Pyongyang and think about how this ease hurt or helped Pyongyang. Likewise, I had to ignore the discomfort I felt when reading Palestine and why it hurt or helped Palestine.
In regards to the organization of my essay, I had to avoid a five paragraph essay. My three major points were ethos, logos, and pathos of the books. While I tried to fit it all into one paragraph, it would just turn into a giant paragraph that no one would want to read. So I broke each of them up, put up my antithesis, and finished with a conclusion. With an introduction at the beginning, this came out to 6 paragraphs, which wasn’t formatted in the traditional 5 paragraph essay, so I was satisfied.
Overall, I enjoyed this essay. It was a fun way to think about how vignettes help the author portray their message AND how these vignettes could differ and give better or worse in helping the author accomplish their goal.
I was not a fan of this assignment.
I don’t watch movies, TV shows, or anything really. I kinda just stick to YouTube and things like that. So when this assignment came up, I knew I’d have to think hard about what I could do.
Everything that came to mind was an animation move/show/whatever. And the issue with that is that most of the objects in those movies feel so abstract that I couldn’t make any real world equivalents.
So I thought and thought more and more. The deadline came closer and closer. Still nothing.
It took having to email Professor Morgen before an idea even came up, and I still had to think about how to execute it.
This was really a huge struggle for me, and I would’ve absolutely loved if drawing could’ve been incorporated. Perhaps it’s just because my creativity may be limited to creating things, not utilizing things. I would like to think that’s not the case, but only more exercises can really indicate how true this is.
I found this assignment to be quite fun! I had originally planned on recreating a scene from the Lion King: the scene where Simba is being lifted up into the air. But my friend wouldn’t let me borrow her dog, so I had to continue brainstorming. Eventually, I recalled this scene from one of my favorite comedies: Superbad. I always thought this scene was hilarious, especially because of Christopher Mintz-Plasse and his iconic awkwardness. Luckily, my roommate happens to be a photographer, so he was really helpful when organizing this shot. Though unexpected, I do feel a sort of deeper connection to this movie now, or at the very least I’ve created a memory that I will always attached to this film. Lastly, I do attribute a bit of irony to this submission, because I may in fact be the only member of this class who is of legal drinking age!
I decided to do my essay primarily on how each other uses stories as a way to develop each conflict just as any author would with a character. At the same time I noticed how each other does this in diffrerent ways primarily due to how they use tone and complexity. To me I saw this as the authors mirroring the tone of the experiences they depict while also highlighting the simpler state of conflict in North Korea compared to Palestine. More or less I wrote this essay in one go. I like writing this way cause I think it makes my essays more fluid. What I tried to do with organization was set up what both authors do throughout and notice how they are similar and then go on to see how they approach that same method.
As I heard from many students in our class, this assignment initially overwhelmed me. Where to start with two heavy graphic novels? But, I decided to take a step back from the prompt and look over the notes I took during our class discussions. This allowed me to first take in the main ideas, similarities, and differences within “Palestine” and “Pyongyang” into account. I then decided to discuss the obvious difference in graphic approach which mirrors the difference between the two storylines. I also went into detail about how the way both journalists collected information for their texts; how they had to do it in different ways for the two extremely diverse environments they were in. Collecting images to back up my arguments throughout this assignment was much more difficult than I initially thought it would be. While I remember certain panels in my head from my first read through the graphic novels, finding them was difficult let alone making sure they were in the right context for my argument. For example, “Pyongyang” has a plain flow so finding panels that actually backed up my specific argument by just flipping through the book was more difficult than intended.
Writing this essay was a bit difficult for me. In my previous experience, I only had to worry about how the author used his text to express his idea. But in this case, I also had to worry about the art style. It is an odd feeling since I always considered the graphic novel as second-tier literature, but now it changed my mind. The art style of both books is vastly different. I believe that pictures increase the tool for the author to use in their novel. The result can vary. Each book had pros and cons in their way of displaying the texts and graphics. It was hard yet interesting experience since it was my first time writing a comparison essay/vignette about a graphic novel, but it felt fresh since it wasn’t a conventional novel.
Link to Essay: Essay Link