Monthly Archives: December 2020

Final Portfolio – Emily Freedman

1. Portfolio Cover Letter

2. At least three reflection posts (unrevised, but in MLA format)

3. Podcast summary/reflection

4. In-class peer review form

5. First draft of diagnostic essay

6. Paper proposal (revised)

7. First draft of final paper

Final Portfolio

Reflection Posts:

  1. Writing a first draft in any essay is a somewhat challenging task. For me, once my brain gets flowing its like a flash flooding river. The true problem is how to get it there. My neutral writing position is that between a 5 month drought and a wildfire. I can’t think of any ideas and thus my brain goes into overdrive(wildfire) and starts rushing and trying anything to find one tiny idea to write about. Because of that, the hardest and most timely part of the essay was writing and defining my thesis. As soon as I had put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard on that I took off. I am a very weird writer compared to many. Most I have met like researching first, then writing. I am a staunch contrarian to that. I will write a paragraph, then decide that I need to look something up. That leads me down a rabbit hole and boom, I have a new source. That is one of the reasons I currently have 7 sources, and am planning to expand that. I think that might be the reason why page counts don’t stress me out as much as other people. I know I will be able to extend an essay to or around the page limit when needed.  In this reading James Baldwin said one of the greatest immediate impact quotes I have read in months. “He was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really
    believed what white people said about him.” As someone who was in a 95% white school I could not comprehend and praise that statement any more. The second you start to believe what others believe of you is the second you start to drown. Even worst, when you are sometimes looked at as an outcast or different because of some aspect you have held since birth and will hold until the reaper decides it is time for you to go.
  2. When reading “The Open Boat” I was struck with an immediate sense of dread. One sentence stood out from the very first reading. “Yet, the belly of this boat dissolves you, precipitates you into a nonworld from which you cry out.” This one sentence perfectly describes Joadson (Morgan Freeman’s character) feeling as he is going into the Amistad with Roger Baldwin in search of evidence. As soon as he steps foot on the deck of the ship, the music, and with it the mood of the scene, changes to a more eerie vibe. We can hear drums that would be often played in African culture. These are accompanied by a wind pipe. Their purpose is to show how he feels connected to his former self. As he was a slave born in a plantation, he might not have been in one of these ships. Despite that, he feels the evil that rots inside ships like these. As he delves deeper into the ship he finds more and more traces of previous men and women on the ship. To accompany that, the drums increase their tempo. He then encounters a labyrinth of chains. Here, a chorus of deep sounding notes is introduced into the scene. These symbolize the men that used to be held here. The many men who perished on this very ship. He was now in the belly of the ship, and it was about to swallow him into the abyss. Mere moments later he trips on these chains and finds himself engulfed in darkness. Thankfully Baldwin was there to light the lamp again. With the lighting of the lamp, Joadson is now pulled out of the abyss. He is then pulled out of the ship by Baldwin. He has now left the ship, yet he was clearly impacted by the ghosts that haunt the Amistad’s past. The feeling of the abyss, of the void, inside a ship like that is undoubtedly strong enough to pull and sink any man or woman who steps in it. 
  3. In Black Butler episode 13, Ciel and Sebastian go to the East End, or “the Indian part of town”. Here they encounter a group of impoverished Indians who try to rob them. Ciel decided to come here to search for who might be committing the recent spree of murders in London. The mere fact that he immediately goes to look for an Indian after the murder speaks volumes of the Indian oppression in London. They are sectioned into the East End. An impoverished and crime stricken part of London. Something that is interesting but might go over some people’s heads is that they are talking the same language as Ciel. In the original anime that would be Japanese, for us watching the English Dub it would be English. They are immigrants, born in India, that later came to England. Their native tongue is Indian. What I am saying is that they were forced to learn English by their colonizers. Now they are here, talking to an English upperclassmen in his native tongue. I am not saying that this was done on purpose by A-1 Pictures and others that worked on the anime. I just feel that it is a “neat” coincidence.One major action caught my attention in Behemoth, Bully, Thief, that being the surgery to “be able to speak better English”. There is no proof that it, in any way, helps the user to speak English. Despite this, parents force their children to have this surgery. That is absurd to me. Not in a thousand years would I think something like that is at all necessary. This is a great example of the coloniality of the English language.

Podcast Reflection:

In this podcast I discussed a bit about my unique relationship with language. I go into some of my past and why I know two languages. Then talk about my struggles with one and my overall happiness with my status and relationship with language. I found it very refreshing to do something like a short form podcast. Talking is something so deeply ingrained in my blood that it comes totally naturally to talk for minutes on end. I feel that I could have talked more, but it would have most likely turned into a lot of gibberish.

Peer Review Form:

Diagnostic Essay:

Paper Proposal:

Final Essay First Draft:

Final Essay Second Draft:

Final Porfolio Cover

            Before I start, I would like to state some things about myself. I am an extremely flawed human and even more of a flawed student. When looked through from a writing lens, I roughly resemble swiss cheese. You will certainly be able to see that from this letter.

This semester I took English 101. In this course I learnt many things, not only about the topics at hand, also about myself. I came into the course not being particularly confident in my writing abilities. To this day that has not changed. I am 100% at fault for this. What I can say has changed was my understanding of my writing process. In high school I was never able to write and work as myself. Here, I was highly encouraged to use the same process I was told to use in high school. I am sorry to say, I did not use the process. The process which I am talking about is first researching your topic, then writing a draft, followed by revising it until you believe it to be good enough. I find that it leaves many holes in your knowledge and gives you a very limited number of sources of which to educate your opinion on and write about. What I did for the Diagnostic and Final essays was to start off with a very small amount of research, enough to get my feet wet. Then I write as many body paragraphs as I can. After I finish those, I take some time to think what would be good for this essay. This step leads me fully plunge myself into the pool of research. I believe this is much better because it allows me to know what I want to know about. At the start all you look is your topic. Now I can look for specific questions which I have had whilst writing. After I find some more sources, I write more paragraphs. I then continue this process until I reach X number of pages, X being the minimum number of pages -1. Then I write my introduction and conclusion. I hardly ever go back to an essay after I write it. I know it is not the correct thing to do. But my mind cannot go back to something I have done and find how to make it better. It just is not made like that. If I submitted a piece of work, it means I believe it to be as good as I can write it. It often turns out to be not by best work. Despite that I have not changed my process because it is comfortable for me and works with decent to good results. This can all be seen in my writings from this semester. I truly believe that that process infiltrates its way into everything I do. From the Diagnostic Essay, into a weekly Reflection Post.

Something Which I have changed due to this course is how I look at evidence and other’s writings. This course has made me learn how to analyze a writing and try to understand the author’s point of view. Sometimes, I have absolutely no clue what they are saying or why they are even writing in the first place. That happened with the poem African Majesty by Nourbese Phillips and I expressed my feelings on it in my reflection post. Apart from Phillips, the only other writer who truly stumped me was Martin Heidegger with his text Introduction to Metaphysics. Most of the time, I could understand the writings and make my own take on what they were trying to get across with their, at times, cryptic way of writing. That is of course my opinion. Before this class I was able to analyze texts at around a 9th grade level, mostly because of English being my second language. Now I can say that has at least improved by a couple of grades. I also learnt how to take these texts, extract their information, and write about them in a form as to inform the reader on these topics. When writing my Final Essay, I took hours to read and truly analyze my sources to make sure I could squeeze every drop of water I thought was available. Across the span of this course’s writings, I have been able to explore my own writing style. The weekly reflections are a great example of how my brain truly works and thinks about writing. Through my work, my use of vocabulary can can shift depending on the audience to which I am writing for. For example, in one of my reflection posts I wrote “For me, once my brain gets flowing it’s like a flash flooding river. The true problem is how to get it there. My neutral writing position is that between a 5-month drought and a wildfire.” In this, I write extremely calmly yet at the same time remain a formal sense of respect for all who might read my post. My Final Essay was meant to be a touch more formal, yet still accessible to people of my age and general lexicon. In it I wrote “we cannot underestimate the consequences that could have on the human brain. Since the dawn of the human era, time has been a vital and somewhat mythical concept. Some civilizations even went so far as to attach a God or Goddess to it. If someone could have a different framework from which to look at a concept as complex as time, who knows what could come of it.” I will not say that I have mastered writing for an audience, for that would be a vast hyperbole. Despite that, I will say that I have significantly improved. Another area of improvement has been my ability to analyze texts of all types and still be able to write about them in the same way. During this class, we have read poems, books, letters, watched films and visual albums. They are all incredibly different mediums with which to transmit your message to the public. Even though they are different an analysis will always be of the same type and same style. This allows for a sense of uniformity in different works. In my Diagnostic essay I was able to analyze the movie Amistad viewed through the lens of cinematography and sound design. To do this I used a variety of sources ranging from articles and websites, to youtube videos by professional musicians.

Rest of the portfolio:

Lauren Hall Final Portfolio

  1. FYW Reflection Letter
  2. Reflection posts (unrevised)
    1. In She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks by Nourbese Philip, one poem that stood out to me was “Discourse on the Logic of Language”. In the poem she is referring to the displacement and the oppression of the colonized (non-whites). Philip is saying that even though she does not know her ‘mother tongue’ (her native/home language), she is forced to speak English (which is really a foreign tongue to her and her mother and father). This is how the colonizers were able to literally silence the colonized. To me, poems are able to convey more meaning and emotions through its structure and use of words/spacing. Philip most likely composed these poems to try to express the pain and anguish people felt, although no form of words will ever allow the audience to know exactly what they experienced. We are only able to feel remorse and sympathy and not the feeling of the whip hitting our back repeatedly. This theme of keeping the colonized people ignorant and/or suppressing their native language is seen in several poems throughout the book. 
    2. I think it is important to note that the United States  just celebrated Christopher Columbus Day as national holiday – as if he is some sort of hero. Christopher Columbus is actually just the most famous immigrant and also the most violent, privileged and destructive immigrant America has known. However, he is viewed as an icon.. Why? Is it because he is white that it was okay for him to come and steal land and lives from the Natives that already occupied this land he supposedly discovered? Yet when the colored people (whether is be Hispanics, like in Living Undocumented or African Americans) attempt to migrate to the United States, having almost no way to do so legally, they are seen as criminals and not welcome here. It is honestly saddening and was so hard for me to watch knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do to help them in this moment. These people are trying to escape violence that causes them to fear for their life and just when they enter America and feel a sense a relief, they are met with another fear for their life of being deported. The majority of these people were not criminals and are not criminals.. They became criminals for fleeing violence and wanting better for their future. Make it make sense. These people are bettering our society and economy if anything. Violence is seen when telling hispanics who have been here for years to “go back home”. Their home is here. They do not have another home. Their family and friends are here. Putting these laws in place to prevent immigrants from entering the United States, will not change anything except cause more people to die trying to flee from the death waiting on them in their home country anyways. If you are choosing between definitely dying where you are or possibly having a better future in America but there is a risk of maybe dying, you are going to choose the option with the risk and not the definite. These people are willing to do what it takes to provide themselves with more opportunities for themselves and for their families, and who is to judge or blame them? I can definitely say the people that ARE judging, have never been in the situation, most likely never will be, and would do the same thing if they were. 
    3. The hardest part about writing an essay for me is coming up with a clear and concise thesis statement. I always feel like my thesis is not worded right or not strong enough so I am constantly editing it and then I have to go through and edit the whole paper to make sure it still makes sense with however I changed my thesis. The whole paper goes back to your thesis so I feel like it is the most important part and why I am never fully satisfied with my approach to it. When reading James Baldwin’s letter “My Dungeon Shook”, and watching Beyonce’s film “Black is King”, it was obvious to me that both were centralized around the future of equality being left in the hands of the descendants of slaves, and African-Americans in general. Both made me realize that there is really no one to rely on to change our current situation with racism and equality for the colored – except the people enduring the consequences themselves. 

A quote that stood out to me the most in Beyonce’s “Black is King” was when it said “When it’s all said and done, I don’t even know my own native tongue. And if I can’t speak myself, I can’t think myself, and if I can’t think myself, I can’t be myself. But if I can’t be myself, I will never know me. So, Uncle Sam, tell me this, if I will never know me, how can you?” – I paused the film here and pondered for awhile. If African-American people are never able to know their true identity because they do not know where their ancestors came from or what language they spoke or what their culture was like, how is it fair to assume the government knows these people well enough to make laws for them? I guess the only reason is because they are now U.S citizens so therefore they must abide by the laws the government puts in place.. But you must realize, they were not originally here by choice but rather by force. 

“History is your future. One day, you will meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”

“Life is a set of choices. Lead or be led astray. Follow your light or lose it.”

These two quotes were also important to me because it shows that she is trying to empower young African-Americans to realize the brainwashing that has been going on for years. She is telling them it is in their hands to do something about it and that they are in fact powerful enough to do so.

I also noticed that literally every single person in Beyonce’s film was of color. I really appreciated this. It was obvious they were not just used as props (like in most white-directed films) – I like this because all of these people were paid for their creative work and maybe were even able to start their careers here. She is empowering people. She is practicing what she preaches. 

3. Podcast Summary/Reflection

To begin, I want to say that perception is a matter of the mind and not an absolute truth that can be defined in one way or the other.

Using the definition from the Oxford Dictionary – The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is a hypothesis that was, “first advanced by Edward Sapir in 1929 and subsequently developed by Benjamin Whorf, that the structure of a language determines a native speaker’s perception and categorization of experience”

The question of whether language affects the way people perceive the world has been ongoing for many years. I ultimately believe language is the only thing that creates our perception of the world, and the forementioned hypothesis supports this claim. 

Merriam-Webster defines a slave as “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence” 

Now why am I talking about slaves in relevance to language and perception? 

I want to argue that we, as humans, are all slaves (as the previous definition states) to the language we speak because it is ultimately the ruler of the universe we have allowed ourselves to know, and it is quite the challenge to emancipate ourselves from this form of mental slavery. 

Think about a time when there was something you were experiencing in your mind that you just could not find a word for. I know this has happened to me on several occasions. This is because every language does not have a word for everything we want to say. So what do we do when this happens? Well for me, after searching for words to describe what Im thinking, and failing, I just move on and forget about it.. This is exactly what I mean by mental slaves to language – if we didn’t have words to describe our thoughts, then we would get no where in communicating with others. As soon as we can’t think of what we are trying to say, our thoughts are literally lost somewhere in our brain. Language is the only thing here that is preventing our mind from doing what it is trying to do – communicate. 

Furthermore, I have several friends who are bilingual. Specifically my two best friends who’s native language is French. I have heard them stumbling to find a word to translate another word they know in French – and sometimes it simply does not exist. Some words have a strictly unique meaning and the can nature of them is unknown to other languages. Translation from languages is not an easy process because it is not just about changing a word to another word, but rather expressing the entire sense of the meaning to another. Even if they took their time to try to describe the word to me, I most likely will not understand the concept until I experience their culture myself. 

I have taken Spanish for 5 years now and I know by doing so I am allowing my mind to be more flexible to new concepts. This does not mean bilingual people are perfect or experience some form of higher thinking, but rather we are quicker to develop new perceptions of the world. 

I know there are things about the world that are unknown to me. And when I really started thinking about this topic of interest, was when we were learning about the ‘nothing’ in one of our modules. It was bizarre to me that I couldn’t think about the ‘nothing’, no image came to my mind. Although most people on the planet cannot picture what the nothing is, I know there are so many concepts that other people easily can perceive in their minds and that I just won’t be able to think about because it has not yet been introduced in my language. 

I also know when watching Lera Boroditsky’s TedTalk “How Language Shapes the Way We Think” that she was talking about languages that do not have exact words for numbers or ways to quantify things simply. This is one thing my brain is not able to perceive because I believe I learned my numbers before I even learned the alphabet. Conversely, the speakers of these languages without numbers have no possible way to think about numbers or quantities. It is just the way we have trained our mind to work based on our language and culture. Again, here language is controlling what we are capable of thinking about. 

In closing, if you agree that language controls thought, this means we, as humans, are completely submissive to its dominating control of our mind. As languages evolve, the control system allowing our mind’s to program meanings is evolving as well. Even in the instance of bilingual people, the bilingual person is still only able to think about the concepts her mind is allowing through language. There will always be an unknown – something you just cannot describe. Your mind is powerful enough to think about it, but your language is not. After all, Barry Mandela once said, “Words are the most dangerous weapons of all”.

REFLECTION – In my podcast, I analyze the control that language holds over our thoughts and perceptions of the world.  Because each language is so drastically different, each person’s knowledge of the universe varies based on their reality. Because there are different ways that people view the world around them based on their language and culture, this ultimately leads me to believe each language is its own universe. This reveals how flexible our minds are. In fact, I would have never had these thoughts, or did this podcast unless I took this class. The language of this class had the ability to control my thoughts, in a good way. I am thankful I took this class as I have enjoyed it the most out of all my classes this semester. It really allowed me to consider several challenges people all around the world encounter through language. I never even thought about language before this class really because it is something that comes so natural to us as speakers, we aren’t thinking about the control it has on us as a child when we are just learning to communicate. It’s too late to change much about it once we realize the manipulation that is occurring – be it benign or sinister..

4. In-Class Peer Review Form

5. First Draft of Diagnostic Essay

6. Second Draft of Diagnostic Essay

7. Paper Proposal (revised)

Can language shape the way we think? 

How does language shape the way we think? 

Language is able to shape the way humans think first because it is impossible to untangle language from thought because language produces new information, and secondly because it is impossible to remove language from a society and culture. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (original proposal at this point)



The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Bob Marley’s redemption song

Whorf, Benjamin Lee. Language, Thought, and Reality.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is a hypothesis that was, “first advanced by Edward Sapir in 1929 and subsequently developed by Benjamin Whorf, that the structure of a language determines a native speaker’s perception and categorization of experience” (Oxford Dictionary)

Therefore because language has such a powerful influence on the mind, it can be said that all humans are experiencing a form mental slavery because of what their language is allowing them to know. Merriam-Webster defines a slave as “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence” (Merriam-Webster dictionary editors).

8. First draft of Final Paper

9. Second draft of Final Paper

– chose to not do this..