For this sketch assignment, I decided to simply show which steps we took to complete the class. For sketch assignments, I decided to show 11 bubbles that display 11 separate assignments, which are not related to each other but at the same time they are all in one harmony. For Literacy Narrative assignment I just showed a book as a reference to the whole topic. Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang is also simply illustrated by two books. Mapping Spinning is shown by the recreation of a map with dots that are connecting. And the Reflection letter is also just a simple drawing of a letter.

Every step seemed easy and challenging at the same time. They seemed challenging when we first heard about them but as we were working and discussing, it became clear and possible to do.


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.


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.

Pyongyang and Palestine: Vignettes in Graphic Novels

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.

Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang Reflection

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 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.

Palestine and Pyongyang Reflection

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

Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang Reflection

Both considered graphic journalism, Palestine and Pyongyang tell stories of lesser known realms impacted by political instability. Although both graphic novels, Palestine with a lot of detail and the more simple Pyongyang both bring readers deep into their text, immersing them into each individual short part, or vignette. Through exploration of these texts, I wrote about how both stories impacted me as a reader, through both the complex and plain styles. Writing my essay was a challenge at first. I was scared to write about my own thoughts, as I learned early in my english career not to rely heavily on first person opinion. However, after being reassured that it was okay, I went forth with my ideas, while still staying fair to the authors of both texts. I wrote from the heart, scratching out drafts that were in the poor compare and contrast style I learned in middle school. I tried to shy away from that style and think I did better but I am still unsure. Of all of the things we have written in this class, I feel as though this was the hardest for me as I struggled with finding things to discuss in my essay. I struggled with finding similarities, especially due to my struggle with reading Palestine. I think I finally came up with a good argument and executed my essay the way I felt was necessary due to my experience with the texts.

Image taken by me

Comparing Pyongyang and Palestine Reflection

The main idea of my essay is that although Pyongyang and Palestine are graphic novels composed of many vignettes which strong together to form a narrative, the two books are different. The illustration style, use of text and narration and the way the vignettes coalesce into one narrative vary, Pyongyang’s felt to me, what I described as, like Purgatory whereas Palestine felt very real and journalistic and chaotic.

Coming up with the argument was not that hard for me. After Professor Morgen said that we should write about something that we didn’t fully understand when comparing the two books, I immediately thought of something that had been on my mind for a while: why did the two books give off such different vibes? I went back to my room that day and without thinking too much quickly had a basic outline on paper. It didn’t take too long to put sentences in and pretty soon the essay was finished. The one problem I had was defining what I meant by “Purgatory”. I didn’t want to take up too much space explaining it but I had to describe it somehow. I’m not sure I did the best I could have but I think the idea got across.

You can access the essay here.

Comparing Pyongyang and Palestine: Reflection

Writing this essay was. little more difficult than originally intended. I began by writing the “meat” of the essay, trying to organize my thoughts and decide on an overarching theme for my essay. I wrote the middle with ease, most of my ideas coming quickly and fluidly. The concluding section was by far the most difficult to write, as I took FOREVER to decide on what I though brought my whole project together coherently. Eventually I made a decision, and it all worked out pretty well.

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