Is there value in studying English literature? This is a question I have wrestled with throughout the course of the semester and the construction of this website. As a future primary school educator I believe that the value in studying English literature comes in being further connected to the language and life in general. Through reading and writing, students are connected to the language they have been hearing since before birth and speaking not to far after. With literature in particular, children learn that everything is connected whether it be to other texts or stories, to events occurring throughout history and today, or to moments in one’s own life. The hope is that the essays included throughout the pages of this website will highlight the diversity in English literature and several ways of approaching said literature.
This website is home to six of my most previous works, many of which depict Kate Chopin’s writings through various critical lenses, including a New Historical, Feminist and Gender Studies, Close Reading, and Reader Response. The works I am most proud of are housed in my presentation portfolio. My process as well as the remaining essays can be found in my process portfolio. There you will be able to see how much effort was put into developing my essays this semester as well as the growth I experienced as a writer from the very first draft to my “final” products. It is important to note that my “final” products are nowhere near perfect. There is always room for more revisions and no piece of writing is ever truly done. As a future teacher, the aforementioned fact surrounding revisions and final products is something I have taken away from this class that I wish to implement for my future students. Writing and one’s thoughts and opinions about English literature are not items that can be graded. I used to be a one and done writer when it came to writing essays, but now I realize the importance of the process and revising. Even the smallest revisions can change the entirety of how a piece of writing is perceived by its reader.
From my earliest memories of writing, I have never really enjoyed it. Early on in my writing career I was always taught that to start the writing process one must formulate an outline. This became a task I despised and in turn I was a bit turned off to writing, much like people who are not good with the processes of calculus get turned off to math. Fortunately or unfortunately, I still was forced to write whether I liked it or not. Because of my utter dislike of outlines, I often start the writing process by just opening up a document and starting to write, rearranging through copy and paste as necessary. I have always been a bit scatter-brained when it comes to my writing for this reason. I have a lot of thoughts in my head, but since I am so anti-outline many of the aforementioned thoughts come across on the page jumbled and unfinished. Throughout the course of the semester, something I have tried to work on in regards to my writing process is being more open to prewriting and outlining my papers. I found that it was indeed easier to write the papers in which I outlined, however I am still not completely convinced as to the value of such a tedious beginning. For this reason, I would say that organizing my thoughts and outlining are definitely two of my biggest weaknesses as a writer. It is hard to produce anything of quality if it is unorganized. I am organized in almost all aspects of my life except when it comes to my writing.
My process as a writer is rather predictable. I strayed away from my previous one-and-done mentality that I had previously as a writer and started every essay assignment by reading or skimming (if I had already recently read it) through the text. Generally while I read I would mark items that jumped out at me. If I had an idea before reading as to what direction I was going in I would specifically mark connections to that idea. For example for my Close Reading of Chopin’s The Awakening, I read through the book marking every instance that a bird or connection to bird like behaviors were mentioned. This made it easier to go back and add in supports from the text to my essay as I wrote. Next I would either write my first draft or an outline (only if required as a part of the assignment). I would then share the document with my peer review group and they would supply me with comments of what went well, what could use improvement, and reminders to stay on track. I would then revise accordingly and turn in my second draft to my professor to get his comments and concerns regarding my topic and ability to stay on said topic. It was always my goal to then take these comments and revise the essay, producing a third draft. At this point I would either call it quits or submit the draft for my professor to review a second time and then call it good for the time being. As I mentioned earlier, I wish I would have had more time to revise these essays further, but a strict schedule made timing the enemy of my revisions and the thing that halted my writing process for any given essay.
As a writer, one of my strengths is my ability to find and integrate supporting sources. I attribute this to having had early access to knowledge about researching through databases. In high school I had a great Librarian Media Specialist and English teacher team that insisted we learn the correct way to find source along with integrating said sources so that there were never any stand alone quotes, a mantra that sticks with me to this day. Consequently, as an Education major, I have become used to the APA citation style and seemingly forgot how to use MLA, so it has been a process in itself relearning how to cite using that citation style.
In conclusion, I have poured a lot of time, energy, and brain power into this website and its contents. I hope that you consider my writing process and the progress I have made throughout the course of the semester as you read through and take in everything my essays and this website have to offer.