Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This is it! Final Portfolio Assignment.

Preparing the Final Portfolio
English 207
Winter 2013

Due: Wednesday, March 20 no later than 5 p.m. outside HH 212

*Final revision of final piece
*First draft of first draft, final piece (doesn’t need to be a clean copy—comments are fine)
*Blog, including a minimum of 17 posts and 20 comments on classmates’ blogs (no need to print this out, simply note the deadline for completion)
*One significantly revised review (you may even lengthen it if you choose) and your original draft with my comments
*Process Writing (see description below)

What is a portfolio?

Most simply, a portfolio is the folder containing your work for presentation and assessment.  It represents you as a writer in this particular class—your current interests, your development as you reworked and revised your work, and your range as a budding arts critic.  It’s like an artist’s portfolio or a portfolio a photographer might take to a job interview.  But in your case, it contains pieces of writing instead of watercolors or photographs.

Choose a folder that suits your personality, embellishing it (or not) in any way you wish.

What is process writing?

Process writing describes the process you went through when drafting and revising your papers, especially the final project, and the thinking about yourself as a writer that you engaged in when preparing the portfolio.  The jargon for this kind of writing is “metacognition”—thinking about thinking.  That makes it sound heavy, but it’s actually relaxing and enjoyable, writing that celebrates the completion of your work for the course.

“What works best is simply to record what actually happened [as you reported, wrote and revised your work], with as much honesty and detail as possible—and with a spirit of calm, benign acceptance of yourself.  That is, you aren’t trying to judge yourself or prove anything or reach big conclusions—just to find out what actually goes on when you write”  (Elbow and Belanoff, A Community of Writers  12-13).

You don’t have to answer all these questions, but here are some points to think about as you do your process writing:

How did you discover a process for writing reviews?
How did that process change over time?
When were you frustrated?
What were your breakthroughs?
What are the important changes you made throughout the quarter with each week’s writing and as you revised?
How did you come up with your final project idea and what was your writing and research process like?
When were readers’ comments useful?
When did you find your own way to solve a problem rather than following the suggestion of your readers?  Why did this seem to work better?
When did you disagree with readers?  Why?
What did writing for this course teach you about yourself?

This writing should be typed, although it doesn’t at all need to be formally written; be as personal and colloquial as you wish—it’s essentially writing you’re doing for yourself, though I’ll be reading it, too.

Important: I will not read your portfolio unless you’ve included process writing—it’s not optional!

What do you need to remember as you prepare the final versions of your final pieces?

*Double space it and number your pages, use Times New Roman, 12-pt font and staple it!
*Closely proofread and copyedit
*Read your pieces aloud to check smoothness of phrasing and to catch typos.  Make sure you are writing consistently in active voice and past tense.
*Make sure you’ve attributed adequately and appropriately

These are niggling last-minute details, but allow enough time to attend to them.  Finally, good luck!  Portfolios represent an approach to writing and learning that I hope you will find as effective as I do.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From Mashable

Words to leave off your resume, as referenced in class tonight.

2013 Oscars' Misogyny

Here are some interesting pieces of cultural criticism regarding this year's Oscars, all addressing the host's misogyny:

From The New Yorker.

From Vulture.

And from Buzzfeed.

Note the various formats, lengths, media usage. Is one more effective than another? Did one grab your interest and hold it more than another?

In other words, how has media technology affected popular arts criticism?

You know, a little question.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sherlock Holmes reviews to check out

Since the last thing you all saw together was Sherlock Holmes at the Civic, I thought you might be interested in the reviews that have been published.

Here's what The Western Herald had to say about it, and here's what the Kalamazoo Gazette printed.

When we convene again next week, I'd like us to dissect these reviews. What would you have done differently? What are their strengths and weaknesses as reviews? Did they cover the right elements? Appropriate structure and evidence for their argument(s)?

Please feel free to use this as a prompt for your informal blog post this week.

Make sure to make lots of comments on each other's blogs this week.

Hang in there, everyone, and please come see me during office hours.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fourth into Fifth Week Prompt

So you've been to the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and been the first ever audience for their production of Sherlock Holmes: The Last Adventure. If you were to "Go with your gut," as McLeese urges, "But do your research," how would you approach a review of this show?
I didn't assign a formal review for this show because it's a conflict of interest in oh so many ways for you to review a show for which your professor plays a central role. However, I would like for you to reflect upon the experience in an informal blog post. You may or may not exclude my performance--it's up to you.

What I'm really interested in is how you would approach the review. What kind of context would you put the show in? There are so many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes--and this is but one of them. Can or should you compare them?

What expectations did you have of the show and why? Did the show meet, exceed, or fall short of them? How?

What about the various elements of the show: the script, the acting, the blocking (the positions and large movements of the actors, generally set by the director), the sets, the lighting, the sound, the costumes, the directing? Can you separate them from each other as they show up on stage?

Would reviewing theatre be more challenging for you than reviewing film? Why or why not? Would you feel a different responsibility with the power you might have? And what kind of standards would you hold the shows to? Given, for example, that the Civic is a community theatre staffed largely by volunteers, would you review their work differently than, say, Broadway touring company shows put on at Miller Auditorium? Why or why not? Does the role of the critic change given a different medium/art form? Feel free to reference the chapter in McLeese as you see fit.

Please post no later than Wednesday at noon. Really looking forward to reading what you have to say about this. And remember, you're welcome to use first person in this informal blog post, but do make sure to edit and proofread your work before publishing online, OK?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fourth Week Assignment

1. Write your 400-word review of "The Queen of Versailles" and turn it in by EMAILING it to me by 8 a.m. on Monday. Please embed the text in the body of your email and attach it as a WORD (.doc) file, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. Also, post it to your blog.

2. Read Chapter 5 on theater in McLeese.

3. Read the New York Times Arts sections.

4. By Wednesday, write and publish an informal blog post. Make at least two comments on other class blogs.

5. Figure out how and with whom you're traveling to The Civic Theatre on the corner of Park and South Streets. Remember that's where class meets fourth week Wednesday. Plan to arrive at 7:10 p.m.

6. Come see me during office hours!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Assignment for Third Week

1. Read the Arts sections of the NYTimes every weekday. Pay particular attention to the reviews. Read and analyze them for craft. Note what you think is effective and what is not and why.

2. Read Ch. 6 in McLeese.

3. Based on what you learned in class, the feedback you received in workshop, and the knowledge you gained from reading Chapter 6 in McLeese, thoroughly revise your film review. Post your revision on your blog and email it as a .doc attachment (and embed in the body) to me by Monday at 8 a.m.

4. Read NYTimes defenses posted by Britt and Maggie, and Joe and Patricia.

5. Come see me during office hours!