Craig Supcoff

The two main areas of writing I feel that I have improved on during the semester are the known-new chain for developing cohesion between sentences and idea development for providing evidence or reasoning for any idea that is introduced in my writing. My writing has developed and been refined greatly by these two skills that are often connected to each other, but they each also improve specific aspects of one’s writing. One aspect of writing that I proved on as a result of the known-new chain is that before I developed an understanding for it and implemented it in my writing, my writing lacked a sense of direction. The lack of direction could be attributed to the fact that I would introduce new ideas in each sentence instead of building upon the last one to make it a complete idea. Creating a complete idea is also an important component for the outcomes of using idea development. Idea development can be seen as a mechanism for providing detail within the context of the known-new chain.

Before I implemented the known-new chain in my writing, I wasn’t connecting my ideas to create a more cohesive form of writing. The lack of cohesion in my writing that was a result of not using the known-new chain was evident in one of the earliest in class writing assignments we did in class on Paul Robeson and James Earl Jones. The assignment we did on James Earl Jones and Paul Robeson was about Paul Robeson relationship to James Earl Jones. Robeson was the first African American in over 50 years to play Othello in a Shakespeare production of it, and many years later, James Earl Jones played Robeson in a play about Robeson’s life. James Earl Jones played Robeson as an homage to him since Robeson paved the way for many African American actors like James Earl Jones to thrive in the theater industry. Through the assignment, I was able to generally convey the message of the significance of James Earl Jones playing Robeson in a play about Robeson’s life, but it was not done in a very effective and organized manner. The lack of organization can be attributed to the fact that each sentence was not directly connected to each other, which is a key element of the known-new chain. Another key element of the known-new chain that is absent in my writing in this assignment is the idea that each sentence should build on the next by referencing a specific aspect from the end of the previous and build on it in the next sentence. Because I don’t connect the sentences by using the known-new chain, the argument I present in the assignment is significantly weaker due to the lack of cohesion and organization in the way in which it is presented.

In terms of idea development, I also had significant shortcomings in this assignment because I was not supporting each idea I introduced with evidence. Evidence is essential an any kind of writing because when a statement is made, it has not legitimacy unless there is information that follows it to back the statement up. In the assignment look at Paul Robeson and James Earl Jones, I was not really making an effort to support the different statements I made with evidence and reasoning for each statement to be true. Instead of building on each statement by providing important supporting ideas such as context among other things, I would introduce new ideas in each sentence without building on any of them. One example is in the very first sentence where I state that Paul Robeson provided a platform for African American artists like James Earl Jones to play more prominent roles in theater, but there is nothing to follow it up. With idea development in mind, I could have explained why and how Robeson created this platform and really , but instead I introduced an entirely new idea that the play Paul Robeson received a significant amount of backlash in the community. The lack of idea development in this assignment, along with the known-new chain, was also a significant factor as to why this assignment was not a cohesive and organized piece of writing compared to the assignments I worked on later in the semester.

The assignment can be seen here: paul-robeson-and-james-earl-jones

With a little bit more experience with using attempting to use the technique of the known-new chain, there was a slight improvement in the organization in my writing. Although I did improve a little, there were still same major shortcomings in the way I organized my thoughts using the known-new chain. The assignment where I showed a little bit of progress, but still showed that I had a ways to go was in the objective statement in my proposal for my curated exhibit. The exhibit proposal was an assignment in which we had to lay out the plan for an exhibit that we would later put together. Within the broader assignment of planning the exhibit, there were specific sections within the assignment to outline the reasoning for the exhibit and how it would actually be executed. One of these sections was the objective state, which had the purpose of communicating what we wanted the exhibit to accomplish and what we wanted it to contribute to public life. In this assignment , I did do a better job communicating the ideas I wanted to the reader to get out of it compared to the Robeson and Jones assignment, but it was still not nearly as cohesive and effective as it could have been. The reason for the relative lack of effectiveness in this assignment was that I did start to implement the known-new chain, but it was delayed. To clarify, it was delayed because I would not tie each sentence into the next, but the idea that I ended one sentence with wouldn’t be addressed and specified on until a couple of sentences later. This resulted in more of a complete set of ideas than the first assignment in my development, but it could definitely still be improved upon to enhance my writing.

Similar to my development with the known-new chain on this assignment, with more knowledge and repetition, I was able to make steps to progress in my ability to implement idea development, but it could still be much more refined. My idea development could be refined in the objective statement of my proposal for the curated exhibit because, while I did support certain ideas in the assignment, there were other ideas introduced that I did not take the same amount of time to research and delve deeper into to the idea. For example, the first idea I introduced was that the Black Arts Movement paved the way for African American artists to produce independent works of art that were free of white influence. I did a fairly effective by going into further detail of what that actually entailed. Once I went into greater detail on my introductory idea though, I did not give specific examples of plays in which my idea manifested. Examples of plays would have been the logical step to continue to develop my initial idea and more thoroughly examine it. Instead of throughly examining the idea, I started to repeat the same idea over again as a consequence of not continuing to develop it with examples. Although I made some strides in my implementation of idea development, I clearly in this assignment showed that I had more to do in order to refine my skills in this area.

The Objective Statement can be seen here: english-101-objective

In th next assignment in my development is probably where I showed the biggest jump in my improvement. The assignment where I showed this big improvement was in the narrative essay assignment. The narrative essay was a complementary piece to our curated exhibit assignment. The purpose of the narrative essay was to go through our curated exhibit as if we were viewing it for the first time to try to make sense of it’s different elements. In the essay, I made sense of the exhibit’s elements artifact by artifact, so each paragraph delineated a different artifact. When observing each different artifact, I did an effective job of implementing the known-new because I made sure that each sentence built off the next by referencing a detail from the end of the previous sentence to build on it. By building on each sentence from the previous one, I was able to achieve more specificity with each new sentence, so I was clarifying each idea more effectively. Because I clarified my ideas more effectively, I was able to create more cohesion between my ideas and make it easier for the reader to understand the message I was trying to get across. Because I was able to get my message across to the reader clearer, I was accomplishing part of the intended outcome of the known-new chain more than I was in the previous two sentences in my development.

I also saw in this assignment that I experienced a similar progression in in terms of idea development. My idea development underwent such a significant improvement from my last assignment due to the fact that every idea that I introduced was accounted for with evidence. For example, when I introduced the image of the three musicians, I provided evidence through descriptive detail in order to help back up the argument I make at the end of the paragraph that they all have the same goal of making a collective sound. I would not be able to make the argument I made effectively with the added evidence to develop my initial idea and give credibility to the argument that it supported.

The paragraph from my narrative essay can be seen here: narrative-essay-body-paragraph

In my featured artifact, my implementation of the known-new chain culminated in the most refined way that I have shown in the semester. My refined use of the known-new chain in the introduction of my curated exhibit was similar to that of my narrative essay in that ending topic of each sentence was introduced in the next sentence, so each one built upon the next one, which gave my writing seem much more organized and connected, so it set the tone for the rest of my curated exhibit. The curated exhibit assignment was the physical manifestation of the proposal in which we actually created an exhibit based on the argument we laid out in the proposal with various artifacts that we felt would take the viewer through our thought process and the ideas we were trying to get across. Aside from the cohesiveness that I showed in this assignment, what made this assignment my most developed in terms of my writing, and more specifically, the known-new chain came down to the fact that analyzed and synthesized information more in depth in this assignment than in my narrative essay. Compared to my narrative essay, my curated exhibit demanded significantly more research in order to make an argument in my exhibit, so it resulted in my writing being more informed than in any other assignment that I had done previously, and it was reflected in how I built off of each idea in the known-new chain.

Analysis and synthesis can also explain why my idea development was in its most refined form in the introduction to my curated exhibit. In my introduction, because of the amount of research I had to do about topics like protest theater and the play write Ed Bullins, I was able to provide more thorough evidence to support my ideas than I had in any other assignment in the semester. For example, in the last sentence of the first paragraph of my introduction, I introduced an idea that Ed Bullins’ play, How Do You Do, was an example of illustrating the theme of social and political injustices pertaining to freedom of expression free of white influence. In order for me to back up this claim, I had to do a close reading of the play itself in order to figure out narrative in the play supported the idea that I introduced. I was able to support the idea in the second paragraph by providing an example of an element of the narrative in the play that helped me prove that How Do You Do illustrated this theme. My illustration of the theme of Bullins’ plays also helped to show the connected relationship between the known-new chain and idea development. These two areas are writing are connected because by implementing the known-new chain in my writing, I inherently improved my idea development as a result because using the known-new chain effectively necessitated that provided evidence for each idea in order for each sentence to build off of each other. By improving my ability to make sure each sentence built on the previous one by using the known-new chain throughout the semester, I also improved drastically in my ability to develop my ideas as a result.

The introduction to my curated exhibit can be seen here: curated-exhibit-introduction

Reflective Portfolio Letter

My portfolio was designed to showcase how I developed in two main areas of writing throughout the semester in the course. The two areas of writing that I focused on were the known-new chain and idea development. The known-new chain is the idea that each sentence builds upon the previous one by referencing the end of the previous sentence at the beginning of the following sentence. By engaging in the practice of the known-new chain, I also implemented idea development in my writing. Idea development is based on the idea that every new thing that is introduced has to be supported by evidence in order for it to be a credible claim in my writing. My writing that I chose to highlight in my portfolio focus on three assignments along with a featured assignment to showcase my development in the known-new chain and idea development.

I chose to look at the beginning of my development with of these skills with an in class writing assignment that discussed the relationship between Paul Robeson and James Earl Jones. For the next stage in my development after the assignment on Robeson and Jones, I looked at the objective statement for the proposal for my curated exhibit. The objective statement represented a slight improvement from the first assignment I chose, but probably my biggest jump in both areas of writing came with my narrative essay, which was the third assignment I chose to highlight. I looked at my narrative essay because I was showing signs that I could effectively implement both the known-new chain and idea development in my writing. The most thorough instance of implementing the known-new chain and idea development came in the introduction to my curated exhibit, which was the assignment I chose to use as my featured artifact for both concepts in my portfolio. In my portfolio, the majority of the assignments that were incorporated in it involved writing to an audience that was supposed to have no previous knowledge of the topics that I covered in the assignment, so the assignments I used in my exhibit helped me to improve to clearly explain certain topics as well as illustrate the argument or overarching idea that I was trying to get across through the different assignments.

My featured assignment of my introduction to my curated exhibit was a good example of how I have developed in my ability to craft an argument that incorporates and challenges ideas of other writers. In order for me to make the curated exhibit, I had to do a significant amount of research on my topic, which featured themes like Ed Bullins, the Black Arts Movement, and protest theater. Through researching these different topics, I was able to analyze and synthesize the information in my introduction because I used what I learned from the different pieces of literature I read on these topics to create my own argument for my exhibit as a whole. One important decision I made in the process of crafting my argument in my introduction was to dedicate a whole section on it for a detailed description of one element of the narrative of Ed Bullins’ play, How Do You Do, which I focus on in my exhibit. My exhibit is divided between a discussion of the Black Arts Movement and Protest Theater and how Protest Theater is used today. In order to bridge these two ideas, I made the choice to discuss a specific element of Bullins’ play that exhibited features of the Black Arts Movement and protest theater in order to bridge the two general themes of my exhibit. For an introduction for an exhibit, it initially seemed to be that this would be a too specific discussion to have, but I felt it was a necessary element of my introduction in order for the intended audience to really understand the argument I was trying to make in my exhibit.

In order to reach the final product of my curated exhibit, I went through multiple stages of revision in order to reach the final product, specifically with the introduction. My introduction was done in many different stages in order to revise it many different aspects. First, I had to revise it a couple times in order to organize my thoughts more effectively by implementing the known-new chain and idea development. Once I improved those areas for the assignment, after consulting other students in the class in peer review sessions and talking to our professor, I realized I had to change some elements of my argument in the exhibit and the content had to reflect that. In order to change the content to reflect my new argument, my introduction had to take a new shape than what I originally expected, but I knew this was just a never step in the revision process in order to get the desired final product that properly reflected what I was trying to get across to the viewer of the exhibit. I think the a viewer of my exhibit would have a good sense of intended argument due to the various revisions it went through and different directions that those revisions took my whole exhibit in as well as the introduction more specifically.

In order to complete my introduction to my curated exhibit and some of the other assignments in my portfolio, I had to consult different types of archival materials in order to do the necessary research to make a strong enough argument in the assignments in my portfolio. In order to the assignments in my portfolio, I consulted both materials in the Woodruff Library archives as well as online databases in order to find different kinds of materials. One of the key pieces of material that I consulted at the library through the Billops-Hatch Archive was an interview conducted with Ed Bullins in 1972 about his thoughts on the Black Arts Movement. The perspective on the Black Arts Movement from Bullins himself on multiple levels aided me in forming my argument for my exhibit because it gave me evidence for multiple aspects of the argument I was crafting for the exhibit. For my exhibit I also looked at different scholarly journals in the discoverE online database. These databases and archives that i consulted in the process of doing different assignments this semester helped me find evidence to analyze and synthesize information more thoroughly and as a result was able to create more informed arguments that were properly backed up.