Dear Portfolio Reviewers,
My definition of ‘good writing’ was writing that allowed me to achieve an A. Otherwise, there was no reason to care for a piece of work. I found it difficult to achieve what I thought was a perfect A paper in this course. This was partly because the writing structures I employed in high school were not at a college level course. I never divulged so deep into rhetorical features before; these literary facets were not focused on in high school or in my other writing intensive courses. My writing has always conformed to an essay structure that would be read by my teachers; writing for a different audience required a completely different structure and tone- a change I enjoyed in my problem essay.
I am much more emotionally attached to my problem essay than my literary narrative. Being able to choose the topic and audience of the paper gave intrinsic value to the assignment. The assignment no longer felt like mandatory schoolwork. I like to do research on random topics on my own time, so the problem essay was just a way for me to sort out my own personal feelings about feminism. Writing in blog format, I felt that the essay was something I could actually use in ‘real life’ to debunk myths about feminism and convince people that they should feel proud in calling themselves feminists. This paper could truly be a blog post that people who search for feminism would read. There is not much one can do with an academic paper unless it is somehow published. When I choose a topic and audience, and therefore another genre that I care about, the resulting work serves a higher purpose than just getting an A on a paper.
I learned about the importance of audience in this course. In my previous writing courses, my audience was always the same- other students and the professor. This audience always required a formal tone. However, formality is not always the most effective way to present information. My problem essay was targeted at a high school or college-aged female demographic. I decided on this after I already started writing. At first, I typed in a formal tone. Then, I realized much of the information was presented in a way that would fit an academic essay which would never reach my demographic. Formality can distance the author from their audience- this was not good for the intentions of my paper. I wanted the readers to sympathize with me and be able to relate to what I was writing. To achieve this, I applied a more conversational tone, exemplified by my opening sentences: “Type the word ‘feminism’ into Google. The first thing that pops up is the definition. Notice that it mentions nothing about man-hating.” I addressed the audience as if we were having a conversation. I also used slang (“man-hating”) to relate to my readers. I learned that I should always decide on my audience before writing a paper.
When I did need to use formality, transitions made my writing seem much more adept. My professors of previous courses were perfectly fine with ‘first’, ‘in conclusion’, and ‘in addition’ as transitions. I learned that these phrases do not substitute as true transitions- something that connects the previous argument to the next one. I learned to use this concept in my rhetorical analysis. I wrote about the exigence and purpose of a popular article and the research paper that was cited. I ended the paragraph with, “The research paper does not conclude with a definite answer, but the popular article shows no doubt.” In the subsequent paragraph, I wrote about how the popular article’s stance produced definite, undoubting claims. In this way, I was able to connect my ideas about exigence and purpose to the stance of the article.
My ePortfolio demonstrates my ability to think critically and articulate my thoughts appropriately and eloquently. In these two assignments, I was able to adopt the proper tone depending on my audience. Each assignment is on separate pages because they are in very different genres and look incongruent side by side. The images I chose for the problem essay were cultural examples to support my main points. I found that images were unnecessary for my readers to understand the rhetorical analysis and images for aesthetic purposes would be unprofessional. This ePortfolio not only displays my ability to write for a good grade, but to write about topics that are important to me.