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Letter of Reflection

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dear Professor Myers and Fellow Rebellious Urban Youth,

Honestly, one of my biggest fears coming into college was the research aspect of the dozens of papers I thought I would have to write. My high school library was mediocre to say the least, and was really only used by the middle school and elementary school kids who were required to look for books. Generally, I would go on the Internet and to hours of sifting through material before I found at least five or more websites that would prove to be beneficial. But in the back of my mind were a thought and a fear that only grew as I got closer and closer to college. But this fear soon dissipated as I was writing the essays for this class.

This was not my first choice of a UW 1020 class; but I believe it is the most effective at producing and instilling the necessary writing and research skills for the collegiate level. I learned the how to breakdown and analyze every argument of a source in order to extract the most pertinent information as well as to grasp its strengths in weakness—I would not call this paranoia, but rather heightened awareness. I also came to the realization that when I am asked to revise a paper, I should actually aim to revise more than a paragraph or two. Revising was something I almost never did, simply because I thought that it was too time consuming and was the transcribed version of back peddling. I was far off the mark. In reality, it provides the writer a chance to reassess their possession on the argument, the way in which sources were used and are transmitted throughout the paper, the fluidity, as well as the grammar. My writing as definitely improved since the beginning of the semester partially because of the simple task of revising.

But the main contributing factor to my heightened success in writing can be accredited to the research process, which I will be able to utilize throughout my college career. But this skill was not honed until the second essay. The first essay I will say discombobulated my belief in what a piece of writing was. The topic was so broad, and so unstructured that I felt as if I were dangling over a pit of everything and asked to grab something—too many choices is the same as too few. I stumbled in the beginning of the essay (the best way to write, is to start), but eventually found my stride when I realized that the point of the essay wasn’t to focus on one specific scientific aspect of life, but to find different aspects of life that can be tied together in order to gain a better understanding of science itself (after I made that realization, there was a long “OOOOOHHHHH” afterwards). Strangely enough, it was the degree of disorder—the entropy—of the essay that helped me structure my second essay which was almost the complete opposite of essay number 1. In a way it taught me how to organize the various pieces of an essay, even if they do not immediately seem to connect. But this also turned out to be beneficial for the final collaborative essay, which was on an even broader topic, with even more information than the other two essays combined.

The final project fortunately was a group effort, which meant that the amount of research necessary for discussing AIDS, homophobia, and the New York Times was divided in four (four group members). Although we each had our separate sections with various materials in each section, at the end of the day we still needed to unify our voices so that the final work would be harmonized.

I will still say however that the concept of writing well is subjective due to the fact that the audience is the ultimate deciding factor. One could say that a good writer knows their audience well enough to know what rudimentary prose and what daring risks one could take without losing them. Rhetorical Intersections of Science, Media, and Culture has taught me how to understand my audience—however many there may be—and how to write in different styles to their liking. Bluntly put, this class taught me how to write well.

 

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, and adieu,

Douglas Harnett-Robinson

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