Course Reflection

Feedback: peer & faculty comments

  • consider using more description
  • try to pursue just one argument ****
  • eliminate ideas that clash with your thesis
  • make sure evidence is clearly connected to your thesis
  • title your work: should indicate what your case is and hint at your question
  • anchor your claims with evidence
  • give your audience more shared context in the introduction
  • provide contrasting sources (different opinions)
  • identify a case-level question; your evidence should allow you to conclusively answer it
  • how is your perspective distinct from your conceptual lenses?

 

A particular strategy that was mentioned in my peer and faculty feedback throughout all three projects was to try to pursue a single argument. Reviewing my old comments from project one for both my workshop and conference drafts, it is clear that I was struggle to understand the expectations of the assignment, and thus, to produce and adhere to one clear argument or thesis throughout my essay. The very first comment in my peer review document stated that my essay was “a bit jumbled but could easily be improved with a single argument”. At this stage, my argument was more of a discussion about the value of cultural regionalism in fashion and I wanted to take a unique, provocative stance within this discussion by proposing that the imitation of cultural styles in global fashion is not bad or misleading because it is art. I then diverged and had another discussion about whether or not the Valentino spring/summer 2016 collection is or is not authentically portraying Masaai culture. I had a whole lot of ideas for such a small amount of text and I had to continue to simplify, just as my peer commentary had recommended. Admittedly, my conference draft was not much of a departure from my workshop draft. As I mentioned in a previous reflection, I am a stubborn writer and it is difficult for me to challenge myself to revise my drafts to the extent that was expected in this class. It is not that I think my first draft is perfect by any means, I just get distracted when I am revising and rethinking complex ideas as opposed to restructuring sentences or fixing punctuation errors. I then get lost in the jumble of old and new themes in my essay and seem to confuse myself even more than when I originally grasped the idea of what to write about. This was especially challenging for this class because the paper topics were so open-ended and it could have been really easy to select a “bad” topic that provided little researchable information or maybe was less relevant than originally thought. Commentary from the project one workshop confirms that I was jumbled and had a mesh of ideas that needed to be refined; “I think I see ideas emerging [in the introduction] that are different from the ideas that end up controlling the essay.” My final draft for project one was a leap from where I had started, but I was able to use my previous research and most of my text. Essentially I reorganized my ideas and changed my stance on cultural regionalism to be less of a radical proposal. I’ve always been one to take a contradictory perspective in my writing in order to elicit a reaction from the reader, and not necessarily because it was at all my own opinion. In this case, although I was tempted, it was necessary for me to avoid this in order to help my claim and streamline my thoughts. In project two, I initially was going to talk about US microbrewing and how it is either a product or creator of localist identity. Obviously this is a huge topic and I knew I’d have to whittle it down so I considered just talking about the localist imagery in their marketing and maybe just discussing a few selected microbrewers. This is a topic with lots of readily available discourse and published scholarship, but the goal of the project was supposed to be to present your own information and contribute something original to the field that you are discussing. I was certainly not going to accomplish that with my original plan. It was mainly a summary of my conceptual lens combined with some other documents I found using the Library Database. Unlike the first project, I had a clear question, so why would I want to revise it at that point? I actually didn’t get any feedback suggesting this in my peer workshop, but I realized as I was preparing for my conference my writing was not what I wanted it to be. I wasn’t excited anymore about what I was pursuing and it’s certainly an interesting topic, so I had clearly gotten lost along the way. The epiphany happened when I was attempting to create my infographic for the cover page and I just could not figure out what to create. I was torn between showing a map of the United States and including figures about microbrewing, which were extremely difficult to find because it is usually clumped under the umbrella term of “craft brewing”. I needed to narrow it down even more. I needed to pursue a single argument, yet again, and expanding my discussion of localism to the entire nation was far too broad. I decided, in my workshop, to further develop my discussion of Deep Ellum Brewing Company, which was a sub-topic in my previous draft. This became the entire basis of the paper, and I was able to include some of the figures and information I had dug up about national microbreweries, previously in my introduction, and plug it into the discussion section to propose a question to the reader about the greater significance of my claim. The third project was a much easier process for me because of my struggles throughout projects one and two. I had far less editing and streamlining of ideas to do which gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into my resources and become more productive with my time. My major development in the third project came from my conference with the suggestion that I more strictly adhere to my discussion of common spaces in terms of Oldenburg’s model of first, second, and third places. This prompted the idea that I define a new term, a fourth place, which became the premise of the entire composition.

 

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