As a first-year student at Emory University, I took part in an English course: ENG 101-The Personal is Public-Writing with Archives and the Arts. In this course, there are four learning outcomes that were presented to us constantly since the first day of class. The objective of this portfolio is to choose two key terms out of twelve and display how we improved upon those aspects throughout the semester. I want to present specific artifacts in order to clearly demonstrate what I have learned and how I have improved since the beginning of the semester. Specifically, for my portfolio, I have decided on these key terms: the known-new chain and context & idea development. With these key terms, I will provide excerpts and artifacts from my works (writing pieces written throughout the semester) that demonstrate how I developed my writing skills in general. There will be a comparison of assignments from the beginning of the semester and those written near the end to show the difference and improvement, which will be included in the featured artifact.
- Compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes with attention to rhetorical
- Practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection.
- Locate and integrate archival material into writing and multimodal projects.
- Summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as you undertake scholarly inquiry in order to produce your own arguments.
- Rhetorical Listening
- Know-New Chain
- Idea Development
- Visual Logic
- Primary Source
- Secondary Source
The known new chain is a method of writing used very often. It is a widely-used method because it sets up a simple sequence. It is the act of writing about an idea at the end of a sentence and continuing the idea description and detail in the next. It allows sentences to flow more smoothly and transition from one topic to the next without interruption in thought or idea. In the following artifacts, it is clearly shown that I was not able to utilize this method since I was not aware of it. However, as I progressed through the semester and was presented with this method, I was able to write in a more organized manner, from one topic to the next.
“Throughout history in the United States, discrimination has constantly been an issue. As a result, from 1954 to 1968, the Civil Rights Movement took place. The Civil Rights Movement focused on fighting against racial discrimination in order to close the gaps between races. As one of the first African American playwrights, Adrienne Kennedy took the risk to write out her story in a play that was later released out to the public and became the center of attention. Being African American was not the only issue that bothered many during this time period. Women in general were also considered of less importance compared to men. They were typically inferior to men as the African Americans were to whites. For Kennedy, identity played a huge role in determining who she was and how others treated her.”
This excerpt is from the introduction of my exhibition proposal. It is one of the first assignments that we had during the beginning of the semester. As a reader, we can tell that every sentence is referring to the same topic and are supporting details of the main idea. However, it is evident that each sentence, one after the next, introduces a new idea, but does not focus on that idea in the next sentence. That is exactly what a known-new chain does. The reader needs to be able to clearly follow from one new idea to the next in the following sentence. In the introduction of the proposal, I intended to focus on introducing the topic, which was the idea that Adrienne Kennedy, an African American playwright, experienced racial and gender hardships and portrayed that through her characters in the play. Just by looking at the end of each sentence and the beginning of the next sentence, I can tell if I utilized the known-new chain. For example, in the second sentence, I ended closed the sentence by discussing what the Civil Rights Movement focused on fighting against. However, the next sentence was about Adrienne Kennedy and how she wrote a play and released it to the public. That shows that the known-new chain is not being used here.
“Racial and gender alienation triggered cultural difficulties for many, which caused people to feel out of place. A sense of belonging comes from similarities in identity, but differences in racial features and gender had people segregate. For example, as shown in Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy, Sarah, the main character, was discriminated during the Civil Rights Movement simply for being an African American and a woman. To be more specific, she was biracial, meaning that she was both white and black, which made it more difficult for her to find her identity. Thus, individuals like her were faced with hardships regarding segregation and discrimination, but also expectations that symbolizes the prejudice. For instance, Sarah was expected to maintain natural hair in order to meet the standards of how people defined African American women. Although some suffered for being black or female, Sarah, who represented Adrienne Kennedy, had to deal with all of the above. This exhibit will portray the hardships and adversity, such as discrimination and inequality, that African Americans, women, African American women, and biracial individuals had to overcome.”
This excerpt is from the introduction of my actual exhibit. In this assignment, we had to create an exhibit that exhibits what I have stated and described in the proposal. It contains artifacts and descriptions in order to tell a certain story. Specifically, this introduction is the portion that explains to the audience what the purpose and objective of the exhibit is. This was an assignment that we completed in the middle of the semester after being introduced to the known-new chain. With this piece of writing, as readers, we can clearly see the improvement. Although it may not be the best version, the improvements are explicit. For example, the first sentence begins with the main idea of the exhibit (the issue): racial and gender alienation. The important part here is that it ends with the idea of feeling out of place, which is then defined in the next sentence. In addition, the following sentence provides an example along with more details about the example. In this excerpt, the reader can clearly move from one idea to the next without idea interruption. I do believe that I could have done better, which I felt that I accomplished later in the semester with artifact 3.
“There are two specific instances that I can think of. The first example is about soccer. Soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was playing soccer with my dad and brother on the weekends, or playing with kids in the neighborhood, many of my fondest memories involve soccer. So, when I entered high school, I naturally joined the team. Over the years, soccer has become more than just a hobby, but a beautiful game that defines who I am. It has taught me valuable lessons, not only about the sport, but also about leadership and teamwork. As the captain, it is up to me to set the overall tone for the team and keep a positive attitude, even when things don’t go according to plans. In soccer, it’s not simply a matter of gaining individual recognition, but working to create synergy by combining all of our talents and filling in for each other’s weaknesses.”
This excerpt is from the first question of diary entry 2, which was completed near the end of the semester. This assignment was written after being introduced to the known-new chain and practice with it. The question asked to write about a situation where I learned a lot and enjoyed the learning experience and made the learning experience a positive one. With this assignment, it is even more evident of the known-new chain. The reader can clearly tell the writer focused on transitioning from one idea to the next. For example, the second sentence discusses how soccer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Then the next sentence describes some instances from my memory. Then, I go straight into the present time and how those memories and experiences were the causes of my present-day career in soccer. I think that the known-new chain played a major role in fulfilling the objective of introducing new ideas and continuing that idea in the next sentence effectively.
Context & Idea Development
Context and idea development are separate key terms, but I thought that these two could go together. Although many of these key terms overlap and may go together, these two were the ones I wanted to focus on. The main improvement that I wanted to present is the idea of “show, not tell”. This idea is justification, but with direct examples and shows “how”. Many writers tend to just say something happened, which causes the body of text to sound vague or incomplete. In order to make a piece of writing solid, it has to be descriptive; it has to complete the “why, what, when, who, and how” standard. This would satisfy the idea of “show, not tell”. Thus, this idea is an aspect of writing that will support and help with context and idea development.
“As a biracial woman, she was not able to fit in, which triggered her to write a play called the Funny House of a Negro. Having to fight through several factors of discrimination, the playwright was still able to portray her troubles from her life through the main character of the play, Sarah, “The Negro”. She had difficulty trying to accept her biracial identity living in the United States during the early 1960s. She was unable to endure the emotional pain caused by the fact that her father is African American. The audience is able to see the hardships that people experienced during the Civil Rights Movement, but most importantly, what she had to deal with. She was able to clearly portray what it was like to be both female and biracial in the United States at the time. As she stated, “I know no places. That is, I cannot believe in places. To believe in places is to know hope and to know the emotion of hope is to know beauty. It links us across a horizon and connects us to the world.’ ”
This excerpt is from the introduction of my exhibition proposal. Again, it is one of the first assignments that we faced and had difficulty writing an effective piece. Meaning, I was not able to detailed enough; I did not give sufficient context nor did I develop ideas. This also implies that the “show, not tell” has not been applied. In this introduction, I intended to write about how Sarah represented Adrienne Kennedy and how she faced troubles in society because of her identity. Although I did give facts and some details, I was not descriptive enough in order to fulfill the four W’s and H. For example, one of the sentences reads, “she had difficulty trying to accept her biracial identity living in the United States during the early 1960s”. In this sentence or the sentence after that, it does not show how she was having difficulty trying to accept her biracial identity. We know why, but we do not know how, which is one of the most important aspects in “show, not tell”. If it does not satisfy “show, not tell”, then it probably has not done so well with idea development, which then lacks context.
“African American women were victims of racial as well as female discrimination. To be more specific, they were treated unequally due to the fact that they were both African American and women. They had to experience and deal with the issues on both sides, whereas white women were concentrated solely on the complications of women. Comparatively, it is fair to say that African American women were going through twice as much, which made it more difficult to overcome. Each of the artifacts below are related in that they expound and convey the oppression of African American women, who tried to stand up for themselves, but as a result, achieved very little prominence.”
This excerpt is from the actual exhibit itself. It is one of the group labels (description of a certain section). This artifact was written in the middle of the semester, which does show some improvement in idea development and giving context through the idea of “show, not tell”. This group label describes African American women and how they were affected as African Americans and as women. It is trying to convey the idea that they experienced double the hardship because they were discriminated in two different ways. We can see that there was an improvement in idea development in the first three sentences. This is a perfect example because the first sentence talks about how African American women were victims of gender and racial discrimination. The next two sentences back up this sentence in that they provide the how. This is where the “show, not tell” played a role. In each next sentence, it provides more context and detail that build up on idea development.
“Some examples I see from Yvette’s piece of writing that se been doing shows that she is a reflective learner is that she talks about the things she realizes while reflecting back on her work. For example, she states, “By the time I get to the conclusion, I’m having to summarize too much and cover the same territory again, which may be a sign that I’ve been over-ambitious”. This entry moves her writing process forward because she finds her flaws and the things she have been doing “wrong”. From this, she is able to improve her works since she is able to spot her faults, which is probably the most difficult part of writing. Yvette’s journal entry about her writing process seems pretty similar to mine in that we both realize these kinds of things afterwards during reflection. One main thing we have in common would be that fact that we both realize later that we did over-ambitious for many things we write. And yes, I have found myself making decisions about a project through my reflective writing. That is usually how it is done. Since a lot of the writing pieces we do in college or high school contain a reflection section, I have tried many options, but either way, many decisions are made through reflection. Reading one piece of writing is difficult to analyze for patterns or habits, but looking at many piece of my own writing, I am able to identify patterns and habits of some sort to a great extent.”
This excerpt is from diary entry 2 that answer questions about a person named Yvette and her style of reflective writing, which was written near the end of the semester. Around the time I wrote this, I had plenty of practice with writing with the mindset of showing, not telling. Again, this method helped me provide more context and develop ideas more effectively. From reading the passage, we can see that I have improved significantly. For example, I provide specific quotes and examples from the text in the second sentence. I analyze and interpret her style of writing through direct quotes. Also, in the middle of the paragraph, I talk about the main thing that I have in common with Yvette when writing, which is also a good example in that it provides context and develops an idea. Until the end of the paragraph, I develop the idea and explain how we both make decisions about a project while working on reflective writing. This clearly shows that I know how to not only tell, but also show and provide context. Thus, idea development has naturally been improved in that way.
“As I began asking questions to myself in order to satisfy my curious mind, I decided to move on to the next step. This took me to a whole new page that felt similar, but looked different. Meaning, the creator of this exhibit is striving for a simple and clear-cut look that allows me to focus on the words and the content only. This page, similar to the previous one, was again, a bunch of black lines put together. At least that was what it looked like to me. Though as I mentioned before, nothing about the physical appearance of this page attracted me personally. However, one thing that I noticed was that there was one thick black line that ran through vertically on the left side of this second white page. It was interesting to see this line randomly placed on this page because it did not really seem to do much in terms of telling the story that the exhibit was intended for. Reading through the large body of text, I began noticing that the black line was making me feel that I was leaning towards the right. The thick black line somehow feels like a wall forcing me to keep going down. So without hesitation or thought, my instinct was to just continue reading. It was easy for the eyes since the black text stood out from the white background.”
This is my featured artifact. It is from one of my best works this semester. It is also the last assignment that we had to do before this portfolio. I was able to apply my knowledge of the known-new chain and idea development. This assignment was based on writing a narrative about the exhibit that I created, but from an outsider’s view. With this assignment, I decided to be creative and talked to myself during this narrative. This made it very straight forward in that it was easy to apply my knowledge of the known-new chain since all I had to do was follow my train of thought. Everything that came to mind, I wrote. Sometimes not everything was in order, but I was still able to connect ideas since I was presenting information from an outside point of view. Expressing my first impression and the change of impression throughout the exhibit allowed me to write in a “show, not tell” manner. Since it was a narrative essay, I had to tell and show at the same time in order for my audience to understand what I mean. My objective was to help the reader visualize what I felt and what I saw when going through the exhibit. For example, beginning with the first sentence, it records all the emotions and actions I took. I try my best to help the audience visualize what I saw and explicitly told them how I felt and thought about it. Because of this, the known-new chain was naturally a skill that I had to apply. The way I organized it was, I mentioned what I saw, then what I thought according to what I saw, and then what I did according to how I felt and thought. Because the narrative was following my train of thought, it was utilizing the known-new chain while providing context, developing ideas, and showing, not telling.
The assignments and artifacts presented above clearly demonstrate the improvements that I have made throughout the semester. From artifact 1, which was written at the beginning of the semester, to artifact 2, which was written in the middle of the semester, and to artifact 3, which was written at the end of the semester, show the changes that have been made in the way I write. Artifact 1 was just writing, artifact 2 was practice writing with skills and knowledge, and then artifact 3 was putting together what I have learned and practiced in order to create a well-written piece of writing. As mentioned before, many of these key words are related to each other. Idea development was easier with the use of the known-new chain. The known-new chain helped transition from one idea to the next, which was probably one of the aspects that I believe I improved most on during the semester. Transitioning and idea development is crucial since it deciphers the flow and the strength of argument. In terms of justification, I was able to develop a well-written thesis and essay overall. Justification seems to just be the idea of “show, not tell”. This seems like a statement that is both very simple and complex at the same time, but once you understand what it means to not only tell, but also show, it is an effective way to write a convincing statement. Overall, this helped with my idea development. From the previous artifact to the next, we were able to see the alterations I made, which is how I demonstrated and showed the significant improvements I made. The featured artifact was the one that put all of improvements together. Like I mentioned, because the narrative was following my train of thought, it was utilizing the known-new chain while providing context, developing ideas, and showing, not telling. The role that the key terms played in the featured artifact was helping the reader follow the writer’s train of thought from one to the next. It provided the reader details in order to visualize and understand what the writer was trying to convey.
Reflective Portfolio Letter