This sketch assignment allowed me to reflect on my growth throughout class. This will certainly help me write my cover letter. I decided to section each major assignment/task that we have competed in class. Then, I proceeded to break down my learning accomplishments from each assignment. I decided to group all the sketch assignments together. Though some were markedly different than others, each one seemed very similar to me. I believe that this is probably because ethyl had similar objectives: to create some sort of visualization. However, it was also because I tend to do all of them around the same time each Sunday. The assignment that I enjoyed breaking down the most was the literacy narrative. The literacy narrative was probably the most challenging assignment, but it incorporated a culmination of everything we learned in class up until now. I also saw, as I broke it down, the growth throughout the assignments. I realized how effective McCloud’s book was in helping me create my literacy narrative. Lastly, I figured that i would include in class lectures. They were blatantly helpful in allowing me to hear a diverse sea of ideas.
When starting this assignment, I was uncertain of what comparisons I would focus on. I was aware of many superficial differences and similarities between the two texts, but I needed to create a visual representation to narrow my focus. So I began the brainstorming process by building a comparison chart. This allowed me to conceptualize their differences in narrative structure. While my initial comparison noted numerous similarities in plot, I began to notice some stark differences in style of narrative. I highlighted Delisle’s use of subtlety in Pyongyang and juxtaposed it with Sacco’s use portrayal of boisterous disarray. While the two texts report journeys through countries where citizens suffer under oppressive regimes, the individual narratives are told in very different ways. I highlight these differences in my final comparison.
I chose to do a pseudo-cake recipe because of all the integral parts involved in cake making. All of the ingredients represent different parts of this class. Larger parts of the cake, such as the flour and sugar, represent main assignments like Spinning and Tracing Maus. Smaller portions represent daily activities and Sunday Sketches. All of the “ingredients” came together to supply the parts for the cover letter and reflection, or the “cake” of this assignment.
For my 11th sketch, I decided to frame all the assignments we did this year as components of an eye. Over the course of this semester, I learned a lot about the possibilities and the depth of graphic novels. I thought a good way to show what I learned would be through a literal eye. I broke down the 4 major assignments we did this year to show how they helped me learn about graphic novels:
Tracing Maus: After reading our first graphic novel, Maus, I was shocked. I didn’t know that graphic novels could be so serious, deep and dense. By tracing it, I analyzed the pages closely and it helped “open my eyes” to the diversity and potential of graphic novels, just like an eye-lid open the eye to the world.
Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang: After Maus we read two graphic novels which, although they shared a similar style, they approached and used the medium in very different ways. By comparing and contrasting the two, I saw how flexible and customizable the genre is, similar to how the iris filters light and allows different colors and shades to be seen.
Literacy narrative: After reading and studying a few graphic novels, we wrote and illustrated our own mini-novels and I was able to understand the struggle in writing, planning and creating a graphic novel. This is similar to the pupil/the back of the eye, where light is processed and turned into something comprehensible.
Mapping Spinning: The last graphic novel we read was Spinning, which we analyzed for some non-obvious pattern. It was an exercise in seeking underlying messages and themes of graphic novels to understand the depth they can have. It was a fascinating process where we looked past the surface for patterns. (Not really sure what the white part of the eyeball does but it felt fitting to put the mapping Spinning assignment there…)
Looking closely at the Cocktail Construction Visualization allowed me to realize how to go about this overwhelming sketch assignment. At first glance, the different patterns and shapes scattered throughout the page were extremely confusing. but, I then noticed the key that tied together what each drink consisted of. Making a key and laying out all eleven Sunday Sketches, four graphic novels, and six larger assignments allowed me to visualize common factors for each part of this Visual Literature Freshman English Class.
Making the key of common themes of this course and deciphering which projects included each category was sort of challenging. While some are simple such as “creative approach” and “storytelling”, I felt as though they had to be included to show the theme of this class as a whole. In addition, I used the three course outcomes to frame some other parts. Knowing which projects formed my skill on revision and reframing projects, taught me how to use a new rhetoric technique of visual representational storytelling, and included textual analysis to strengthen my writing skills will be extremely useful for my Reflection Cover Letter.
Framing this “Assemblies” assignment uncovered a lot of the synthesis of this class as a whole. A big example of this took place with the “Data Analysis” section of my key. Our last two assignments- Data Visualization in Your Everyday Life and Mapping Spinning- were the two obvious data analysis projects we completed during this semester. However, looking back at the coursework allowed me to realize that this theme has been consistent. I have interpreted Tracing Maus and Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang to also include this type of skill in more of a textual way instead of visual. For example, though we close read individual pages of Maus for the assignment, the overall project of making three connections that encompass the novel as a whole track data throughout the entire layered story. In addition, comparing and contrasting Palestine verse Pyongyang forced me to uncover similar themes consistent throughout the novel and track their relevances in retrospect to each novel.
The sunday sketches as a whole show the diversity of visual representations. Many include personal representations of myself in non-traditional ways. Who would have thought a cartoon avatar, photo of what I carry in my backpack from day to day, or “True Story” would mirror a personal narrative. As a whole, this course has gone beyond boundaries of a traditional english class.
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.
if you feel it helpful, a short bit of explanatory text. Then write a reflective post in which you link to the map and address the following questions:
- How do you understand Spinning differently when you see it through the map that you’ve made about it, rather than you did when you were reading the book panel by panel? How does this abstract model of the memoir reveal qualitative or quantitative aspects of the book that would elude a typical close reading?
- What questions about Spinning led you to focus on the element(s) that you did when you created your map?
- Why did your “map” take the shape it did?
- How does your map succeed and what are its limitations?
This is my attempt at mapping Spinning. The model above presents the operationalization of “hope”, a recurring theme in the graphic novel which is symbolized by the presence of the color yellow in a panel; here, I present the percentage of panels containing yellow per chapter. A polynomial trend-line indicates a decrease in hope from the introduction, and and a radical increase towards the end of the book.
Conducting this numerical analysis reveals that the presence of hope is very high during the introduction –which possesses a joyful tone, almost as if hinting a feel-good novel–, which decreases exponentially throughout the entirety of the book until Chapter 8, where hope settles into the story and Tillie realizes what makes her happy, having its final peak in Chapter 10. In that final span of increasing hopefulness, Tillie quits skating, giving that it made her unhappy, and accepts her homosexuality, recognizing her sexuality does not mean the end of the world. When she learns to accept herself as she is, the numbers and my intuition as well indicate hope exponentially increases.
This helped me understand that Spinning is not necessarily a story centered around hope, but about a young girl trying to understand her sexuality, and ultimately her path towards self acceptance and making the most of life with what she has by dropping anything that pulled her down (ice skating), and living her life as she truly is.
What led me to explore hopefulness in this assignment was the seemingly spontaneous bursts of yellow throughout the entire novel. These led me to believe there had to be some sort of pattern hidden between the amount of yellow present. The model succeeded greatly in measuring the percentage of panels possessing yellow, but falls short when taking into account the amount of yellow per panel. In multiple panels, very faint hints of yellow can be observed, while some are almost 75%+ yellow.
In conclusion, the operationalization of “hope” led me to understand that as Tillie learned to accept herself as she is and seek happiness in life, rather than submit to societal expectation, hopefulness in the book increases in an exponential fashion.
One of the standout themes in Spinning was the idea of Tillie struggling with being a lesbian. I also felt that at there was a right balance between focusing on it and then other things. This prompted me to count the number of panels per chapter that reference her sexual orientation.
The main limitation of my graph is that you can’t see a percentage of how much each of the chapters takes up and rather what chapters feature her sexual orientation the most.
The map took the shape it did because the references to her orientation become more prominent when she is finally outed after her picture with Rae is discovered and she comes out to her parents and friends, and it takes center stage. But once this is revealed it slows down a considerable amount and then fades into the background as her future and her issues become more present.
The map succeeded in showing the ramping and fading of references that I felt when I read, but it came up to my decision of what constituted a reference to her sexual orientation, therefore the numbers may be slightly different if someone else made the same graph.
What this shows me about Spinning is that the themes and moments in the book shift just as Tillie is growing up and therefore we should track exactly where we are and what the story is telling us by what it focuses on.
This project. And all the panels. A pain in the butt to count, YES, but a good pain (????). After counting tons of panels and trying to see what I felt, I feel like I understand Spinning as a very different book. Upon initial readings, I thought it was a very sad book. It had a great message, but all I could remember was the hardships and negatives that occurred in the book. But then I looked at it all, and I noticed that there were still panels that displayed positive emotions (hope, happy, etc.). This helped to change Spinning from a book about sadness to a book about life, and it shows that life will have ups and downs, even if you can only see one side.
It was also strange quantifying Spinning. The book felt so emotional that it seemed impossible to “count” anything within Spinning. But it was actually somewhat refreshing to count it all. It helped me understand this book much better all around, as said previously.
To come up with this idea, I simply asked myself what I felt Spinning was emotionally. I’d thought much of Spinning was negative (and a lot of it still was!), but I wasn’t completely sure if it was as one-sided as I remembered. So I was curious enough to judge 1500+ panels on what I emotionally felt in the given moment of reading it.
I think I succeeded in what I wanted to see. Even though it’s quite messy with loads of numbers, I can start to visually see the differences and changes that the book goes through emotionally. However, there are massive limitations to this map. It’s all subjective, which is already very limiting. Furthermore, there are some emotions that are hard to distinguish between each other (annoyance v. frustration) that one has to make tough calls on. But overall, I’m actually quite satisfied.