End of Semester Reflection: American Women Writers

As the semester comes to a close and finals come hitting all us college students like a ton of bricks, I’ll just take a post for a moment of reflection on this past semester. I also suppose that in light of the Holiday season, a little reflection might be good for the soul. I’ve done a lot of writing this semester between this, and my other classes, I’ve written who knows how many pages. But this blog right here. was without a doubt, the most enjoyable writing I got to do. I do a lot of blogging, on a separate social media platform besides WordPress. But this site is the first in which my blog solely tailored towards my writing. I’m not into the gimmicky, showy, fancy things that writing websites do nowadays. I’m not a big fan of music or videos or anything like that, unless it pertains to my writing. I enjoy that here, on my blog, you see the stark contrast between the white and they grey, and you get to focus on my words.

I’ve shared this blog link online with various people, and even though American Women Writers class is winding down and almost over, I think I might want to pursue a writing blog for my own personal needs, because I like this idea of sharing my writing publicly I had never really done it before this class. But I suppose that now is the time where I say goodbye and talk about my semester and projects, so here goes:

Parts and aspects of the online group project we did were familiar to me because in many classes, group projects are a popular way to assign tasks to students. Working with a group on this project was a lot less painless and much easier than group projects usually tend to go, because the collaborations were online, which made much more necessary for individuals to be accountable for their individual writing tasks in order to see that work had been done by each person. A challenge that our group faced was the formatting, as to how it was that we were going to make 5 different writing styles appear cohesive on a website that we wanted to publish in a professional style and ensure that others looked at is as a viable information resource about our chosen author. What surprised me most about the online group project was how smoothly it went in terms of collaborating with others, because I generally do not have pleasant experiences with group projects.

Some things that I think I may carry from this project into other school or “real world” reading/ writing/ research situations is that if you really want to look through all the random garbage any stranger can post on the internet for reputable sources, there really are ways to find it. You don’t have to be complacent in the information presented to you online. And if you really don’t like it, fix it, change it. If some mystery person can blatantly write complete and utter falsehoods on Wikipedia pages, then you have the capability to make something good out of all the randomness out there online. Another thing that I learned is to have a little more faith in people- if they wanna get the work done, they’ll do it. A popular tweet or joke online goes somewhere along the lines of:

“When I die, I want all the people I ever did group projects with to lower me into the grave, just so that they can let me down one last time.”

This joke pretty much sums up my general attitude towards group projects, but this time around I did not feel an overwhelming need to bring anyone to my casket.

In terms of women’s literature, this class and this project both made me realize that there are a ton of women out there that are writing amazing things, and we have virtually no idea who they are. Upon entering this class, I had not heard of any of these authors, with the exception of Zora Neale Hurston, and even then, I had not even ever read her work. This is unfortunate in the realm of women’s literature, especially considering that in current popular culture, some of the best-selling, most world- renowned literature is penned by females. When I think of literature in the public sphere, I am coming to realize that much of it is idealized and receives a fanatical following because it does not confront controversial socio- political topics, or at the very most, it alludes to them in a metaphorical, underlying sense. These kinds of stories gain a following because there is not much about them that renders you uncomfortable or squeamish while reading(except for maybe 50 Shades of Grey, but even then, there are some who are completely unphased by that particular subject matter). These pieces that we read over the course of the semester addressed issues, especially those of minority and women’s rights, head- on, which could be, perhaps, one of the reasons why they went unnoticed or fell into obscurity.

In terms of writing on literature and/ or criticism for the general reader, I personally had to be very careful not to insert my own opinions into fact- based writing. From this project, I learned that my own writing is at times, especially quirky and very heavily based on emotion and personal opinion/ experience. And sometimes this can lead me astray in my writing, as if I present my own thoughts and opinions as irrefutable fact.

The most challenge aspect of the group work, at least for me, was working with technology. Ad far as being part of “technological” generation goes, I’m pretty okay at doing the bare minimum in terms of web design and anything involving Microsoft Word. So to have to help in constructing a website, as well as this blog, was a little bit of a struggle for me.To be completely honest, if I could change one thing about the group project, it would probably be not to have a group project for two reasons: 1) the commuter vs. resident lifestyle at Saint John’s and the varying schedules make it much hard to collaborate outside of class when necessary, which then rushes all the in- class work and leaves all that at- home work in this phase of limbo where you don’t know if it posted to the website correctly, or if your group got it, or if it’s just floating around forever in cyber space, which then means that you end up re- doing your own work many a time. And 2) because even though I lucked out with a good group of hard- working people. I can’t promise that everyone will, as the saying goes “light a fire under their ass” and get their work done. Which is always a concern of mine, getting the work done, and getting it done well. 

What I learned about writing for a public audience, I think I really learned the most here on my blog. Most of the time, when you write essays for a professor, they tell you to write for the “informed reader”, you as a student can assume that the professor who is reading your writing, does, in fact, have knowledge about the curriculum they are teaching you. But online, the whole reason that your audience is reading your writing is because they are an uninformed reader. So then, as a writer your task is to inform them, not entirely, but to an extent that they want to pick up the book you’re telling them about, at least in terms of American women’s literature.

But all in all, whether I liked part of projects or not, I’m a little sad not to have an absolutely necessary reason to write every week, but it’s been a good run, from an academic- writing standpoint.

If anyone is curious as to how the final website came out, take a look:

http://zitkalasaatsju.wix.com/zitkalasa

Over and out.

-W

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