Mapping Spinning

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I decided to use similar inforgraphic I used in the SK10 assignment. The infographic uses the point system so you can see points for each sections of the chapter. The total point also demonstrates which chapters contains significant events or not. It was a bit difficult to use this point system since there were lots of variables, but it was managed.

Mapping Spinning Reflection

The assignment to Map Spinning by Tillie Walden presented a unique challenge, because it felt like working with quantitative data about something that was inherently more creative and that did not lend itself to being quantified. Originally I wanted to do something with this idea. I tried to find an aspect to track throughout the entire book, but as I counted pages I realized that it showcased the progress of the character better to compare the data I collected by showcasing a few chapters from the beginning and the ending.

I ended up choosing to track the way that Tillie’s wears her hair in the first, second, ninth and tenth chapters. I chose to track this for a few reasons. Firstly, it is an indirect way to track the amount of time that Tillie spends on the ice; most often her hair is up when she skates and down when she is at school or at home. The moments where this convention in the book are broken are important in that they allow the readers to see a very quiet kind of rebellion from Tillie. As a character, Tillie is very quiet and has a lot of difficulty asserting herself verbally. So the moments where she refuses to put her hair up (in the first few pages, and on page 322) are more significant than they might be in another author’s story.

Secondly, I think that the scenes where Tillie and Lindsay are getting ready together, doing each other’s hair are arguably some of the most genuine and intimate moments in the girls’ friendship. And the act of preparing for tournaments and practices are where we get to see these girls interact.

I chose to represent two chapters from the beginning and end of the book to showcase growth in Tillie’s character. I represented these in four pie charts, one for each chapter. I added categories into the last two to differentiate between her hair in the present moment and her hair in flashbacks to earlier moments in her childhood. My graphs made visible what I had initially thought, which is that as the book progresses Tillie wears her hair down more and more, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the other characters (see again, the scene on page 322). I think it is not insignificant that Tillie Walden chooses to begin and end with Tillie on the ice again, years after quitting, and refusing a younger girl who offers her a hair tie. This moment alone makes a compelling case for exactly why it is important to note Tillie’s choices about her hair within this book.

Spinning reflection

I decided to focus my mapping spinning project on how the use of color matches the amount of intensity in the moment of the story. While I realizer that this is largely opinion based I tried my best to think about how much yellow was on each page compared to what was happening in the story. Doing this allowed me to learn more about why the author used different amounts off colors in different parts of the book. While I noticed the different amounts of yellow as I was reading I don’t believe that I would have had the same understanding on how it was used if I didn’t do this assignment. This is the main reason I decided to do this project about this. I wanted to see how the author many of through about how she was using the different colors. To construct the map I then looked at the data I constructed and decided to figure out what was the best way to illustrate my map. I think map succeeds in that it does depict how yellow and intensity correlate. Yet, the problem is that the numbers are completely option based so it lacks a lot of detail that would make it better.

Mapping Spinning Reflection

We have discussed many times in class how Tillie Walden’s graphic novel “Spinning” cannot be described as being “about figure skating.”  “Spinning” is more of a coming of age story of an adolescent trying to find herself as she is growing older and realizing she is unlike those around her.  Though she is writing about her true scenario where she practically grew up on the ice skating rink, the story uses figure skating as more of a metaphor for how Tillie is going through her life.  I decided to focus on seven different characteristics that together are what figure skating consists of for Tillie; they differ from positive to negative and from striking to obvious.

From an outsider’s perspective figure skating consists of sparkles, elaborate costumes, and particularly outstanding posture; they see it as a very feminine sport.  But, such positive aspects, as well as the genuine thrill of succeeding in the craft, take place very rarely within “Spinning”. I noticed this while reading the book but wanted to see what aspects were overpowering these positive ones.  Everytime Tillie talks about having to put on makeup, do her hair, and wear the proper shade of tights she dreads it. In addition, the genuine thrill of success only takes place four times throughout the entire story based on the data I gathered.  Behind the sparkles there is exhaustion, particular technique, constant discipline, expensive rink time, and competitive teammates. These characteristics burden Tillie constantly, as I expected. But, I just was unaware of how drastic this difference is.  I went through each chapter constantly adding ticks to my spreadsheet next to the technique and discipline sections because this is what the intense sport of figure skating is truly made of.

The hard work and dedication to move forward and upward in the sport of figure skating mirrors the hard work it takes for Tillie to attempt to fit in with everyone else.  She is not surprised when she passes her tests on the rink because she “always [passes]”. In the judgemental teenage state she is in, she is afraid to show her true colors and come out as gay to those around her.  She is able to “pass as straight” even though she has always known something else was a part of her. This is similar to how she is able to cover up the discipline, emotion, strength, and hard work that goes into this sport as outsiders just see as feminine and natural.  

The striking aspects of figure skating also corresponds to Tillie’s family life.  Instead of her parents watching her compete, easily pay for rink time, and supporting her as she grows as a figure skater, her personal life at home is consistent with the hardships and intensity within figure skating.  

My map is a simple bar graph that is split up by chapter and color coordinated by characteristic.  I collected data chapter by chapter simply but there were definitely points where this was challenging as I had to decipher what category certain scenes would fall into and choose breaking points for these scenes.

In general, it is obvious that the red, green, and yellow bars of technique, fake friendship and loneliness within the team, and critique drastically overpower.  However, the visual effect of my map is flawed as I split it up by chapter. If I skipped doing this, you would be able to compare each characteristic to each other rather than only within a specific chapter.  For example, the black bar is very high for chapter three which looks like it is taking place a lot while in respect to the entire novel this true friendship characteristic rarely takes place.

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Mapping: Spinning Reflection

When I read the instructions for this project, I was stumped not because I didn’t have an idea, but because I had too many. I started thinking about how I read the book and then I remembered times where I did not actually read, I just watched. I thought about the memoir almost as a film, more than the other graphic novels we read in class. I read the book quickly yet still processed it almost like I do in a movie. I decided to count the pages where there is no text on the pages, only images. Although in most chapters there was only a few, in chapter 8, there were 10 pages dedicated to only pictures, around 20% of the entire chapter. The drawings were short snapshots into Tillie’s life following her sexual assault. It almost felt like we were living her life, brief snippets clustered together, almost as a way to experience her sadness, her fear. The map shows that chapter 8 has the most text-free pages due to its large size in comparison to the others. I wish this map could show more into where in the chapter these pages were found. However, I could not find a way to accomplish that. I feel like this map simply shows where the places are and it is up to the reader to interpret why.


Image taken by me

Reflection of Mapping: Spinning

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.

Mapping: Spinning


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.