The Written Word Still Works

The written word has many great uses that are lost upon much of the youth of today. The world has been overtaken by podcasts and videos and texting, leaving very little use for a medium such as the unaided written word. Or, at least that is what uninitiated of the uses of publications would be lead to believe. Throughout the semester in the course of English 397 this concept has been approached in a variety of manners, some less apparent while others are rather obvious and yet underutilized. I found the medium exercises its greatest affordances with succinct and important quotes that speak for the piece as a whole in poignant ways. In addition, accompaniments of written pieces that further exposit important ideals of the work are a key affordance of the medium as well.

An example from the course of great quotable writing I found was within Devon’s work earlier on in the semester. In Devon’s piece “Is Memorizing a Waste of Time?” my colleague writes about how he believes that the internet has in unintentional ways depleted our ability to memorize information due to the simplicity of search engines and access to the world wide web. The concept in it of itself is a fascinating read, however it is punctuated with an exclamation point with a phrase that I feel drives the point home in a thought-provoking manner. Devon says “In my opinion, the only thing to be worried about when it comes to Internet dependence is what happens if we were to lose connection.” This sentence ends the passage but also bridges the thought process into the outside of the reading, making the reader question himself or herself and revisit the piece again. A simple choice of words can have that power; the ability to provoke thought and to stimulate interest, and I feel Devon does just that in his writing here.

As previously stated, as impressive as just really well written works are, the affordance the medium has it that additional attachments can be included to further the words. That can be seen in Isabella’s piece “Everyday Curators” from a few months ago. Isabella has a strong argument in regards to the uses of Google and how it has become a tool for mankind that allows for greater knowledge. However great her words were though they were only amplified and emphasized through her use of accompaniments, such as her screenshot of the Google Trends homepage. This is an aspect of Google’s search engine that Isabella writes about, but the image illustrates and drives home the point, clarifying the impact of the resource. The use of the image goes beyond the writing and brings the crux of the piece full circle for the reader in a way that could not have been done otherwise. The written word allows for works like these and others to act as examples of the power that words on a page still have even in spite of the various of popular mediums that are present all around us today.

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Favorites

Throughout this semester, I have come across such a wide variety of posts that I have really admired. One post which I admire for its quality of prose is Will’s concept in 60 remediation piece. I enjoyed how playful and creative he was with this assignment. He built upon future Will’s character in a very descriptive way that may not have been construed the same way if it had been through a different medium. I recognize Will’s piece as a natural flow of his thoughts and story-telling.  One of my favorite quotes from this post was:

He wanted to taste the bounty of life, to behold the wonders of life outside the auto shop. What he really wanted to be is an exotic dancer. So he came up with this plan to go back in time, using the blueprints for the time machine he helped make, to motivate his younger self to take control of his life, even if it meant helping him make a PB&J.”

I enjoyed this part because it made me laugh while allowing me to understand both this post and his concept in 60 post even better. Will gives his readers everything we need to know about his character: what his aspirations and ambitions are, even if making a PB&J sandwich was part of that. Future Will could have easily said these things about himself if this had been a video but the readers received a lot more description through this piece.

One post I admire for how the writer moved beyond writing is Sam’s remediation of his Hudson River Blues poem. The poem was inspired by a picture he took of the Hudson River and he provided that photo in the video. I really enjoyed this video because I feel as though he described the picture so perfectly. Specifically, when he says the line: “and tuck myself in / with the blanket of clouds that rolls overhead” the video pans up to the actual blanket like clouds Sam is referring to. Poems are open to a lot of different interpretations but Sam gave his viewers a peek into his specific thoughts and ideas with the use of this video.

Class Favorites

One of my favorite written pieces for this class comes from Isabella. Titled “Everyday Curators”, this piece discusses the second half of Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows.” Isabella’s takeaway from the second half of the book that she discusses is that with internet, we as people have the power to designate what becomes relevant news and what does not. Moreover, the idea is that with social media in particular, we can share, post, and hashtag in a way that creates a story or brings attention to a particular topic. I feel that Isabella describes this brilliantly in her piece. My favorite line from this post is “Our phones are grenades—with them we have the power to blow something up. Not in the literal sense but in the sense that creates a ripple effect within a medium that reaches anyone worldwide.” This is such a powerful statement because not only does it utilize a metaphor, but it signifies our power as users of the internet. The idea of “blowing up” a story can have both positive connotations, as well as negative as we saw with Ronson’s book. Isabella does a great job at pointing this out and bringing to light the idea that we are empowered by our technology—we curate our information and pick what we think is important and skip over what we think is not.

One of my favorite posts from someone who moves beyond writing was James’ Concept in 60 video, where he explains how to properly watch a movie. James really utilized the subtlety of comedy in this video. While never explicitly saying anything super funny, something he does quite well is show the viewer how one should watch a movie in a comedic manner. The actions in the video that go with the instructions for how to properly watch a movie is what makes it funny. The one scene in particular that stands out to me begins at 0:42. In this scene, James has described how one should get into the right mindset to watch their movie. Because James is demonstrating by watching Star Wars, he is decked out in Star Wars gear. However, this scene in particular made me laugh because of the manner in which James lights up the toy light saber. He has a straight face while doing this, and it is this subtle facial expression, or lack thereof, that video allows us to see. In writing, we would have to describe this and it might not be as funny.

Concept of Getting Dressed through a different lense

For my concept in 60 video, I chose to illustrate the idea of getting ready through video. This is a concept that is perceived differently in the minds of people so for this remediation assignment I decided to illustrate this concept through an interview. I interviewed my friend Marissa Sabitsky, a junior who is a nursing major here at UD. Getting dressed is something that is part of everyone’s day so I decided to depict this concept through a Q+A with a friend.

I started by asking Marissa how she feels about getting dressed…

 Marissa: I would definitely say I view it as a necessity. I don’t think I have any feelings toward it, it’s just something you have to do everyday. I guess I enjoy it a lot more if I am getting dressed to go somewhere I want to go to like a nice restaurant instead of McDowell at 9am.

How would you describe your getting ready routine on a typical school day morning?

Marissa: I don’t really put a lot of effort into getting ready for class but I put a lot more effort into what I look like when it comes to going out to dinner or going out with friends.

Can you explain what you do when you’re getting dressed?

Marissa: First, I pick my pants – typically I wear leggings because I like to be comfortable. Then I check the weather to what temperature I’m working with. I could wear a short sleeved top with flip flops or sneakers and a sweatshirt. I always put on body spray and I’ll do something with my hair but I never really wear make up during the weekdays. When I go out on the weekends, I put make up on and I’ll straighten my hair. First, I’ll pick a top then I’ll pick jeans. I always make sure to put perfume on, not body spray – there’s a difference. Oh and I always put jewelry on, I feel like it makes me look more put together.

What are you trying to communicate with how you look after you’re done getting dressed?

 Marissa: Typically, I don’t think about what I am trying to communicate because for class you can usually catch me in nursing scrubs which would just communicate that I am a nursing major. Wearing those scrubs communicates more than just my major but who I aspire to be. Although, when I am trying and thinking about what to wear for different occasions, I want to look good so I feel good which will communicate that I am happy to be wherever I am.

The Options Video Expressions Bring To The Table: Remediated

In my previous post I spoke about various kinds of video that are within the medium of film making, yet are all different. Here, I show some of these kinds of video expression through student examples being paired with professionally executed ones as well.

Remediation: Hudson River Blues

For my remediation assignment, I chose to take a poem that I wrote for my Creative Writing class last semester and utilize it in a video. The Poem, which I’ve titled Hudson River Blues, was actually first inspired by a photograph that I took on the Hudson River last summer. The following video is comprised of the photograph, along with an audio track of myself reading the poem.

If you would like to read the poem, here it is: Hudson River Blues. I hope you enjoyed it!

Clarissa Gordon: sharing her voice from Rutgers University

Clarissa Gordon is a sophomore Journalism major and Creative writing minor at Rutgers University. A good friend of mine, she was born and raised in New York City and we have always shared a passion for reading and writing. She currently writes for the Daily Targum, a student-written and student-managed newspaper and for Trim magazine, the fashion magazine on campus. Whether her articles take a journalistic approach or they include a version of herself I have always admired her writing. I chose to her to do my digital writer profile on because I hoped to learn about how she implements her voice and grows as a writer despite limitations and the influences and inspirations behind her work.

I began our conversation by asking Clarissa how she got involved in writing outside of the classroom

Clarissa: I took a basic writing for journalism and media class my first semester of sophomore year and realized I had a knack for reporting, especially with the current political climate and my overall interest in current events so I decided to pop into the Targum offices. It only took me two articles before they offered me a position as a correspondent and on the side I write for Trim.

Clarissa, typical to most New Yorkers, has always had a special interest in current events that deal with entertainment and pop culture. So even on a large campus like Rutgers she connects her interests by writing articles on a campus Spring Drag Show and Rutgers FORM (Fashion Organization of Retail and Marketing) fashion show showcases.

What version of yourself are you trying to portray online through your articles?

 Clarissa: Well first things first as a journalist I’m never to insert my opinions into my articles – maybe if I’m writing a review on an art exhibition or a fashion show, but even then, opinion is scarce. Trim is where I’m allowed to really be creative and use my voice: I mostly write for the love and lust column, and as someone who considers themselves a sex positive feminist, I try to empower my female readers, which I think is especially important on a college campus where young women might struggle finding or accepting themselves.

I admire Clarissa as a writer because I have always known her as a strongly opinionated person and she uses her voice to advocate issues that are important to shed light on.

What are some things you keep in mind when writing something new?

Clarissa: I mostly just try to showcase clear and concise writing skills while at the same time making sure my article is interesting and attention-grabbing.

And lastly I asked, what inspires/influences you as a writer?

 Clarissa: Ever since I can remember I’ve always liked to write – I used to sit down in front of my first laptop and jot down chapters of novels in like elementary school…so that passion has always kind of been there. More recently, I think I was definitely inspired by Lena Dunham and how she’s a great writer on so many levels – she can be a journalist and a story teller when she wants to be, but she’s also great at writing jokes and films and tv shows and basically anything she sets her mind to. I’m also inspired by young women I know personally who are writing for Vogue and the New Yorker. Their salaries aren’t the best, but when you’re a writer, money isn’t really ever the end goal.