Learning Outcome 1: Revisions in my work has changed somewhat drastically throughout this course. In my first essay, the Favorite Meal Essay “Pesto Alfredo Tortellini,” I had chosen to only revise the entire essay once. I had not written it in correct MLA format, omitting the double spacing, Times New Roman font, and absence of headers, page numbers, correct citations within the essay and in the Works Cited section, etc. Fast forward a few months to the last essay (#3) “Consider the Animal,” which has incorporated all of what was absent in my favorite meal essay, plus the addition of peer review and multiple drafting opportunities, and outlining of the essay. This has drastically enhanced the clarity, purpose, meaning, and direction of my writing. In class, we’ve discussed the effectiveness of considering local and global revisions to our works. Local revision, pertaining to grammar, punctuation, and other minor nuances, has always been a strong suit of mine. When it comes to global revision, which pertains to the organization, flow, clarity, tone, etc. of writing, I have improved on such. A way to strengthen your argument in a global revision, which I have implemented in essays #2 and #3, is the introduction of text-on-text “moments” which can compare and/or contrast two sources of information in accordance to your topic.
Learning Outcome 2: The chosen significant writing project for me would be the last essay (essay #3): “Consider the Animal.” In this essay, I’ve incorporated many different approaches of cited quotations to support my arguments and further enhance my writing method. The first use of quotations would be for direct quoting. For example, in the second paragraph, I explain how Jonathan Foer explains his position on eating meat and the fallacies behind it. I go on to directly quote his side of it to support my argument. After the quote, I explain more information and support it with snippets of quotes from the text to further enhance my writing. The second use of cited evidence revolves around text-on-text moments. I have two of these moments within this final draft. For example, in the third paragraph, I use two sources to explain the “right” and “wrong” aspects to animal death for our consumption, further supporting my argument with the idea of whether an animal can feel pain, and where we even draw the line to consider a certain organism an “animal” in the first place. I use Hal Herzog’s position on the definition of an animal and how Judith (his wife) talks about what she believes, subjectively, what an animal is. Then I compared it with David Foster Wallace and his investigation as to how to define an animal on the principle of whether it feels pain or not. With these two text-on-text moments, I then referred to Webster’s Dictionary to investigate how they define the word “animal.” Seeing as “animal” could be defined both inclusively and exclusively, this helped my argument immensely with the grey-area we tend to experience in this topic. My earlier attempts at bringing in citations to my text were not as detailed or effective as this last essay had shown to be. I typically would drop a quotation without any explanation before or after, leaving the reader perhaps confused and jostled. This would be a “hit-and-run” quotation, which we have discussed in class to avoid by “sandwiching” the quote with explanation pre/post-quotation.
Learning Outcome 3: (Susan Gilroy; Interrogating Texts)
In “Interrogating Texts: 6 Reading Habits to Develop in Your First Year at Harvard,” author Susan Gilroy talks about asking questions while reading text that point to the purpose, meaning, conclusions, etc. and how to write effectively through such. My own experiences in active, critical writing took some developmental trial-and-error. With the addition of peer-reviewing, on top of the usual techniques I’ve employed prior to this course such as content purpose, organization, proofreading, etc., I feel as though my writing has become much clearer and stronger (I can write with the utmost confidence I once did not have.) Critical reading has also been a developmental standpoint for me since the start of high school. Outlining/annotating a piece of writing comes in three steps for me: the most important pieces, the lesser-but-still-important pieces, and the nitty-gritty that helps support the rest of the various important pieces. With critical reading, asking questions about anything and everything, and annotations, I’ve found it easier to understand the purpose and argument of an author and come back to certain points of the text to find specific support sections. Gilroy pieces together the idea of text analysis perfectly: “Take the information apart, look at its parts, and then try to put it back together again in language that is meaningful to you.” The information presented in texts (especially deeply complex ones) can be difficult to understand with an initial read-through. Taking specific pieces out from the text and tearing them apart by asking questions such as “What is the author asserting here?” and “Are these facts or opinions?” help bring the author’s argument to light and give clarity to the text as a whole. Now, deciding on what to mark and annotate can be a task within itself as there are many points, movements, gestures, and argument pieces to bring to the table. What I try to do is to read through a text first and try to see what the main gist of the argument is. Then I go through the text again, pencil in hand, and mark up the relevant pieces of text that help me pinpoint the SPECIFIC supporting/unsupporting factors. I can come back to these specific pieces later on as they will entail entirely to the text, sifting through the semi-useless or irrelevant jargon, asides, etc. that are presented.
Learning Outcome 4: For the chosen first draft peer review material feedback, I chose Morgan Gamble’s first draft of Soy You Have a Favorite Meal essay titled “The End of Food.” The vast majority of my edits revolved around grammar and mechanics (something I can’t let slide as it really makes someone’s work look polished when done correctly.) However, I did add a few pieces of suggestion throughout. My first suggestion was a clarification warning for her first body paragraph. In between my suggestions, I found time to appreciate her work that was already produced and giving compliments for moral support. A few times I asked about homogeny and coherence for the flow of reading. I asked her to put a long quotation within a block quotation for better clarity and to distinguish the quotation from her own words. At the end of my suggestions, I left a parting message with a summarization of my recommendations. I also reminded her to correctly format her MLA citations (even though that is something I even reserve for the final draft.) These peer review sessions are very crucial in the development of writing as they can help criticize other’s work and help point out issues that the author may not see while they are focusing on extending their argument further. Peer reviewing has helped me immensely (especially in earlier essays) with the issues I come across very frequently; clarity, flow, placement of certain ideas within paragraphs, and introducing a quote efficiently.
Learning Outcomes 5-6: In my chosen significant writing assignment (essay #3), there are near-perfect MLA citations in place compared to my first and second essays. For example, we’ve learned in class to make a “hanging indent” for the citations in the “Works Cited” section. Alongside the proper works cited section, we also learned how to quote the author’s works within our essays and appropriately cite after the quotation. When an authors name and their work is mentioned in the paragraph prior to the quotation being written, you don’t need to add their last name into the parenthetical citation thereafter. If you don’t mention their name, then you need to add it alongside a page or paragraph indicator.
In the case of eating meat, I like how the author of “Animals Like Us,” Hal Herzog, explains how he navigates the definition of what an animal really is. “While it is obvious that dogs and cats and cows and pigs are animals, it was equally clear to Judith that fish were not. They just didn’t feel like animals to her” (1).
Alongside proper citations, my class has talked much about how to structure an essay within proper MLA format and making sure mechanics, structure, and flow work perfectly. Text-on-text moments help with argument clarity and support, whereas typical grammar and punctuation proper use was instructed.