Hi, I’m Jordan and I’m from Dallas, Texas. This is a portfolio of my work in the Freshman expository writing class, English 101. Below you will see descriptions of some of my greatest writing triumphs and challenges from these last few months. The areas of improvement I will discuss are the known-new chain and idea development. It is important to note than in my portfolio, I want to show how I’ve become a more well rounded writer. Although I only write about two areas of improvement, I believe that I have grown in many different aspects of writing. In my focus on the known-new chain and idea development, I will demonstrate a wide array of improvement.
Area of Improvement No. 1
Annotated Bibliography (Artifacts 1 and 2)
As the semester progresssed, I became better at incorporating the known-new chain in my writing. You can most clearly see this in my annotated bibliography. In my first draft, I resorted to lots of repetition and vague phrasing. In my final draft, I relay the same message in a way that is both clear and succint.
“This dissertation takes an interesting approach to the idea of black masculinity because it highlights the voice behind the male characters of the play which, ironically, is not a man. This thesis adds some complexity to my argument because in addition to the direct argument of the role of black men, it brings to the forefront that the voice of the male characters in the play is Lorraine Hansberry, a woman.”
“This dissertation takes an interesting approash to the idea of black masculinity because it highlights the voice of the male characters behind the play which, ironically, is not a man. After reading this thesis, I can add some complexity to my argument by further exploring this idea.”
My rough draft and final draft are very different in makeup and sentence flow. In the final draft of my annotated bibliography the writing is clear and cohesive. Implementation of the known- new chain allowed me to enhance the overall clarity of these two sentences. Besides the fact that my writing in the second half of my first draft excerpt is very long and jumbled, the second sentence is also repetitive. Essentially, I am restating the exact same information that was in the first sentence. The point I am trying to make in my first sentence is that in A Raisin in the Sun, black masculinity is voiced by a woman. I restate this observation in the following sentence and fail to expand any further than that. I completed the “known” portion of the known new chain, but I did not provide any “new” information. In my final draft, I took note of this issue in my writing and rephrased the paired sentences so that they flowed better together. Rather than restating my main idea from the first sentence, in the second sentence, I refer back to the last sentence and explain how that information will be useful to me in the future. Referencing my previous idea and elaborting on it demonstrates the known-new chain.
Narrative Essay (Artifact 3)
Improvement in using the known-new chain can also be seen in the final draft of my narrative essay. A very high level of detail was needed for this essay; actively using the known-new chain helped me write more descriptively.
“The woman in the photo is shown in her kitchen cooking a meal. Her face is obscured because her head is bent at an angle that allows her to cook. Although her face is not clearly shown, it is evident that the woman is happy and smiling…There is an odd sense of artificial happiness in this photo. The woman appears to be almost too happy to be doing menial kitchen tasks. “
I initially struglled to meet the level of description that was deemed necessary for this essay. This was especially a challenge for me when I was composing the introduction of my narrative essay. In that portion of the essay, I knew I wanted to introduce my currated exhibt to the audience, but I could not present my exhibit in a way that was effective. I often times jumped from one idea to the next without including the important details that tied the ideas together. My writing came across as choppy and sometimes even fragemented. When I began to actively use the known-new chain in my writing, I noticed a sharp change in my sentence flow. I also found that using the known-new chain in each sentence helped me write more descripitivally. The excerpt above, from my narrative essay, is an example of how the known-new chain helped me write cohesively and with more detail. I provide a descriptive element in every sentence so that the reader can visualize the image. And each sentence is connected by means of the known-new chain. I begin describing the image in a broad fashion by highlighting the background and subject of the image. Using the information I brought in at the beginning of the passage, I get more specific and descibe the subjects facial expressions. And finally, after explaining components of the image, I delve into analysis of the image. The various and distinct aspects of the photo I point out are all linked because each observation builds off of the previous one. By taking the time to recreate the image with my words using the known-new chain, I add harmony to my writing.
Area of Improvement No. 2
I feel that the known-new chain and idea development are linked areas of improvement. Much like I progressed in maintaining flow and connection from sentence to sentence, on a broader scale, I also improved in idea development. Idea development is similar to the known-new chain in many ways, only it is not limited to sentences rather it is more broad. By the end of the semester I improved immensely in my ability to syntheisize theses, and topics of discussion and then organize my ideas so that they are impactful and engaging. The way I have evolved in this critical area of writing can be seen most explicitly in my curated exhibit and narrative essay. For both of these assignments, I developed my ability to think critically about material I was given, and formulate my thoughts into overall coherent and well organized written work.
Currated Exhibit (Artifact 1)
One of the artifacts in my curated exhibit was a poem by the highly acclaimed Harlem Rennaisance poet, Langston Hughes. His poem, titled Harlem [dream Deferred], was not in my initial list of artifacts. When I was first planning out my exhibit in my proposal, I did not consider Hughes’ poem, which influenced the author of my exhibit’s main artifact, A Raisin in The Sun. It was not until I actually began to create my currated exhibit that I really began to push past my creative comfort zone. I developed the idea of using Harlem [dream Deferred] in my currated exhibit to provide background and context for the play. I assumed that my hypothetical audience had never read A Raisin in The Sun. I wanted everyone, no matter their familiarity with the play, to be able to connect to my exhibit and grasp my central message on identity. I came up with the idea of including the poem so that viewers would understand my reasons for using A Raisin in the Sun even if they never read the play. I believe that this particular idea I developed helped immensely in presenting my exhibit to different audiences.
Narrative Essay (Artifact 2)
“The simple, type writer font of the text against the white background is very striking. The look of the poem appeals to the retro theme and time period of this portion of the exhibition. By the end of the exhibit it quickly becomes evident to me that this starting poem is an outlier of sorts among the exhibit. But I think the curator’s decision to open with this artifact was very strategic because it provides context. It eases viewers into the exhibit before getting into the most crucial points on identity. Viewers do not have to have read A Raisin in the Sun to know its importance to the exhibit. By reading the words of Langston Hughes, exhibitors know the major connections between the central artifact, A Raisin in the Sun, and the theme of the exhibit.”
My incorporation of Langston Hughe’s poem in my previous artifact does not just show my ability to generate new ideas. When I speak about the poem in another work, my narrative essay, I also demonstrate skillful expression of ideas. When approached from a different perspective, idea development can also mean how well someone is able to express their thoughts. In my narrative essay, I worked to voice my thoughts on the Langton Hughes poem through a different lense, a third party museum critic. I wanted to itirate the significance of using my poem as an introductory artifact, and I belive I did that effectively through idea synthesis and development. I made a focal claim about the purpose of the poem and in the remainder of the paragraph I elaborate on this idea and make it more clear. Together, the various sentences I use in my narrative essay to describe Harlem [dream Deferred], help synthesize my idea.
Diary Entry 2 (Artifact 3)
Diary Entry 2, which was based on a prompt from the book, Portfolio Keeping, also demonstrates my mastery of idea development. This writing assignment was made at a very early stage in the creation of my portfolio. In this second diary entry, I was tasked with creating a Reviewer Memo. Writing about my portfolio in this reflective mannor helped me see my goals for the final product more clearly. I asked myself three different questions and developed my ideas for the final draft of my portfolio in my answers. For example, one of my questions was “What is your vision for the final product of your portfolio?” By answering my own question and elaborating on my thoughts, I was able to cleary explain my ideas for my portfolio. This writing excercise forced me to confront parts of my portfolio that I had not previously given much thought to. The level of skill with which I was able to develop my ideas proved to be very useful because many of my early plans for this portfolio are still being enacted. I used idea development in this assignment by formulating a topic of discussion and then clarifying the topic through the use of examples and detail.
Featured Artifact and Conclusion
My featured artifact, the introduction in the final draft of my proposal, is a text that shows the known-new chain and idea development. Both areas of improvement play a large role in this artifact. When I first began the introduction text, as an in class writing activity, I was tasked with introducing the theme of my exhibit and stating my thesis. In my introduction, I explained that I wanted to draw attention to past and present identity dilemmas and inspire the public to get rid of labels. The role the known-new chain plays in this assignment is it allows for each sentence to seamlessly lead to the next sentence. I started by talking about my personal values and then I gradually got more and more specific by using the known-new chain. The three main ideas I introduced in this text were the play and past and present identity struggles. I was able to flow between the three topics by using the known-new chain. In my rough draft of the introduction, my sentences did not flow very well with all of the different ideas I was attempting to introduce in one paragraph. I realized that I could keep my original content if I utilized the known-new chain; that technique allowed me to tie all of my ideas together into a cohesive text. The role idea development played in this text was very similar to the role of the known-new chain. By clearly stating my objective early on in the text, I was able to devote a majority of my writing to developing my main idea. I do this by refferenceing A Raisin in the Sun, embedding quotes, and providing specific examples from the play that support the main idea of my introduction. Through the use of examples, I clearly expressed my goals for my exhibit, and the message of my introduction became more impactful.