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Marc

Drake Dr. Erin Dietel-McLaughlin Community Based Writing and Rhetoric 8 December 2011 Reflective Writers Statement Going into this course, I was very anxious about producing collegiate level writing. Throughout high school, our English teachers prepared us for what the difficulties of college writing. After all these years of preparation and hearing various friends who were older than me talk about their college experiences, I was worried that I would still be unprepared and would have to radically have to change my writing style. Still, I was thankful for the amazing writing teachers I had in high school and all the experience I had gained throughout those courses. Throughout high school, the term outline merely meant a piece of paper with an

introduction, three main points with at least two sub-points, and a conclusion. I recall frantically rushing to get an outline of a subject and trying hard to force my ideas into this rigid structure. After this course, there is a newfound fluidity to my writing process. My outlines are there to help me organize my paper, as a sort of backbone, yet they are still susceptible to change. Also, I have learned how to rank ideas in my paper in terms of strength, and that it is okay to have some points that hold more authority than others. In addition to my outlining, I have also had very many positive workshopping sessions throughout the semester. Ive seen how truly beneficial the workshopping process can be, and throughout the class I have received very helpful affirmations in my writing and even

more helpful critiques. Through these sessions Ive learned the value of having outside opinion on my writing, something that I seldom sought before this semester. One of the most important developments in my writing throughout this course was my outlook towards writing as a whole. In high school, I viewed writing as a rote and static process, often devoid of personal touch and written on topics that I had a shallow interest in at best. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I found out that we would be able to choose our own topics in our narrative essays, and that we would also be able to choose our subjects in the subsequent essays. Having the opportunity to write about the things that I was passionate about turning writing into more of an expression of my ideas rather than a tedious process done to get a grade. I now see writing as a way to communicate with others and an important tool of dialogue. Each piece of my portfolio displays this new mindset of dialogue. In some pieces this is obtained through synthesis of documents and commentary on these documents. In other places it is accomplished through appealing to the reader at a level they can relate to. However, regardless of methodology, I attempted to make each sample of writing contribute to the greater conversation on each subject. This course was one of the first times I had ever dealt with persuasive writing in the form of rhetoric. As I stated earlier, writing had been a very objective discipline with little room for personal voice or style. So, for me, placing my own opinion into my work and trying to convince readers was a very new idea. However, I seriously prefer this approach to writing over compiling a list of facts connected through a serious of sentences. Under this framework, I felt that I had more liberty in writing my papers, and I was often more passionate in my writing when I thought I was trying to persuade my audience into a particular direction. In each piece in my portfolio, this new mindset of persuasion towards

a certain idea or feeling is present. I feel that my understanding of rhetoric is very apparent in my research essay, where I attempt to connect genetics with raising adopt children, and then propose solutions to my audience about these problems. In this paper, I clearly identified my viewpoint and used research and experience not only to defend this view, but also to call my intended audience to action. One important skill I learned this semester that is reflected throughout my portfolio is the idea of critical research. In my analysis essay, I critically analyzed articles on the nature and manifestations of violence and related them to my subject, showing my understanding of the concepts present in these articles. For this course, I was often tasked with reading articles in class while finding research material of my own at the same time. In doing this, I learned how to effectively sort through material rather than blindly gathering books and hoping for the best. For example, in my Research essay, I gathered a great deal of material from various 1000+ page manuals. Using research tools available through the Notre Dame library, I was able to narrow down to the most beneficial books, and once I arrived to these books I was able to carefully extract what I needed. In my visual essay, I used all of the research skills I had accumulated throughout the semester to find material on a relatively new social movement to create a compelling visual argument. Despite the title of the course being community based writing, I sadly did not get as much experience as I would have liked with the community aspect of the class. Due to scheduling conflicts on my behalf and the behalf of other Take Ten members, I was not able to start working at a school until over midway through the semester. Though I only was able to work at the school for a short time, it still was a very enriching experience that supplemented the course readings, and provided a nice escape each week. Going to Take

Ten each week made each of the readings less abstract and more personal. These new definitions of violence werent just words on a page, but I saw them lived out as I watched the kids squabble and handle conflict in good and bad ways. The project that I am most proud of this semester is my research paper, because I feel that it displays all of the development Ive experienced as a writer throughout the semester. In it I incorporate newfound research techniques, rhetorical devices, and a new mindset towards writing. I was very interested in the topic of my paper, and I was very impressed with the balance I took between my own voice and the voice of experts in the field. I was proud of the synthesis that was included in this paper and I feel that this essay shows my critical analysis skills and individual paragraph writing. As a whole, I have thoroughly enjoyed this class and it has promoted a newfound appreciation for writing as an art rather than a necessity. By brainstorming about each topic on my own and having the ability to write about subjects of my choosing, my critical thinking skills have improved.