At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I also had no real concept of what “expository writing” means. The technological aspect of the course seemed to be a bit daunting at first: writing essays via Twitter, even the concept of a “photo essay,” 3-D modeling, writing bi-weekly blogs and commenting on other’s work, and furthermore, “What is a multimodal object analysis and what is material culture?
Over the course of the semester, I realized my unfamiliarity with material culture studies and various digital composition platforms to be bogeymen. Quite the contrary, much of what I’ve learned through this course has been vitally useful to my everyday life. I’ve created my own website to house my work in writing, teaching and music, and, through that process, I’ve gained a greater sense of confidence about what my personal brand is becoming.
Being exposed to new ideas, in terms of theories on writing, the work thinkers like Peter Elbow and Ann Berthoff illuminated divergent sensibilities on the usual process of writing to which I’ve been exposed. An essay doesn’t have to be an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Reading selections Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project reveals that exposition can take many forms beyond the five-paragraph essay that gets so firmly implanted into the minds of exposition students. Further, Elbow’s ideas on writing for self opened doors in my thinking, that writing isn’t just some academic exercise—it’s the basis of free expression.
Because the projects were so open, I had the opportunity to research whatever I wanted. Given the prompt of selecting a significant object eventually led me to investigating the iPhone, which became my object of study for my 3-D modeling project and the Multimodal Object Analysis. In my revision of the Twitter Essays, I wrote a mini object analysis of the iPhone, and in the Photo Essay, the Apple logo makes a couple of appearances.
The biggest challenge I faced in terms of research was to decide where to stop. I quickly found that there are innumerable rabbit holes to explore among the inroads of material culture, economics, philosophy and criticism, psychology, and pop culture. I read fairly widely, and came up with more questions than answers, a discovery which contributes to my goal to be a lifetime learner as a go forward to finish my undergraduate work and beyond to a graduate program.
Working in multiple modes gave me new insight to the concept of rhetoric. Spatially, how I compose my work has a rhetorical effect. Using different effects while editing photos creates different rhetorical emphases. The visual and spatial modes offer choices as to how strongly I represent certain ideas, which is important in exposition, where argumentation takes a back seat to being more generally informative. Learning the expository mode made me rethink my writing, in that I wasn’t necessarily trying to be persuasive necessarily in these projects. The facts I present, of themselves, have persuasive qualities, and I found that I had control over how much emphasis I gave those qualities.
The collaborative and revision components reminded me of a creative writing workshop I took a couple of years ago. A piece can always be revised, rekeyed, and further honed for greater effectiveness. Giving and getting feedback on writing projects helped me develop a sense of detachment from my own work: these essays are not my children—I can change them, cut from, add to, rearrange or trash them— rather, they’re the results of my participation in the writing process, and through collaboration and revision, have become examples of the kind of writing that I can feel confident about, moving forward.
The artifacts of this portfolio demonstrate my development as a writer over the course of the fall 2014 semester at Georgia State University.