“An Analysis of Social Commentary on Homosexuality in American Film”
English 112, April 18, 2011
"An Analysis of Social Commentary on Homosexuality in American Film” was my final paper for ENG 112, for which we were assigned a final, heavily research-based paper. The topic was of our choice, but we were required to focus on some aspect of popular culture. In the recent years before I wrote this paper, I noticed an increasing number of gay relationships portrayed on both television and in movies, and was interested in exploring both the history and the progression of prevalence of gay relationships on screen. The paper is certainly well-sourced and uses research in an effective way to support the thesis. I also did a good job at covering the entire span of the century, pointing out many movies to provide support for the thesis and for the argued trend of that time period.Although the reader can recognize my budding opinion on the issue, it is not fully developed. I spend a lot of time talking about what other people think about the issue and not enough time talking about my own opinions or arguments. This is probably because I wasn’t yet confident or comfortable asserting my own opinion on a controversial subject. Beyond asserting myself more, I think the analysis I did provide could have been deeper in exploring the implications of trends in gay character portrayal on screen. This paper will be good in showing the roots of my tendency to write as an activist and an investigator of controversial subjects. My choice of topic certainly shows my early interest in controversial subjects, and although my own voice is not well developed in this essay, I think it is a great origin-story because it shows my early interest in writing on controversial subjects, which fills my later writings.
“Attack on the True American: An Analysis of Anti-Immigration Legislation”
English 225, February 16, 2012
This was the first paper I wrote for English 225: Academic Argumentation. After reading Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” we were asked to write an “apologia” paper, a paper that justified or defended a certain issue we believed in. I chose to tackle the controversial subject of illegal immigration and argued that many states needed to appeal ineffective anti-immigration laws. In style with Dr. King’s letter, I made an open appeal to a congressman to repeal the REAL ID Act, which was originally proposed in 2005. It’s hard to believe that this paper was written less than a year after my paper on homosexuality in film. My entire tone seems to have changed and I seem in this paper to have finally found a confident, argumentative voice. My analysis throughout the paper seems sharp, and like my last paper, I use a number of sources to heavily support my argument.There is definitely more of my voice in this paper, but I still feel in much of the paper, I am letting my sources speak for me rather than expressing my own views. I no doubt appreciate my attention to finding a large amount of sources to back up my claims, but at times I feel I spent so much time focusing on what my sources were saying that I forgot to voice and reinforce my own opinions. I think this paper shows my maturity and improvement as a writer from freshman to sophomore year, but it also a good example when comparing my work from junior and senior and to how my writing has grown from this paper.
“Perks of Your Period”
What the F Magazine: Your Monthly Periodical, June 13, 2012
“Perks of Your Period” was an article I wrote for the University of Michigan’s women’s health magazine What the F: Your Monthly Periodical. I was inspired to write this article after I came across an article online of a study that found women on their periods were more likely to be able to spot snakes when shown photos with snakes hidden within the jungle-like environment presented. The article made me think there were likely other little-known benefits to the commonly dreaded time-of-the-month, so I set out to find them. I definitely think my slightly-dry humorous tone not often seen in my academic writing was able to come out in this article, and I was able to be a bit more playful.In terms of criticism, it could have likely used more editing and maybe a little more elaboration in terms of the “perks.” Although menstruation isn’t a human rights issue, it is still a controversial or at least somewhat taboo topic in this country. I think this article is a good example in showing that my tendency to address controversial or not often talked about topics occurs both inside and outside the classroom.
“Memorandum Regarding Abortion Laws”
Representative David E. Rutledge’s Office, August 9, 2012
This was a memorandum I wrote while working as an intern for Representative David E. Rutledge at the state Capitol. I was asked to evaluate the upcoming laws proposed regarding abortion in terms of how they would affect the health and safety of women in the state of Michigan. Although the memorandum is brief, it is heavily researched. Even though it is mostly composed of my findings on the research I did, I was also able to give my own opinions on the issue.Since this was one of the first memorandums I wrote and I was still getting comfortable with the form, there are certainly improvements to be made in terms of being concise with my writing and with format. I plan to use this document in my essay to show how I was able to write about controversial subjects, such as abortion, in more than just an academic setting, and also in a variety of formats.
Blog Posts: Fall 2012
These blog posts were required for our Writing 220 Gateway course, and we were simply asked to find articles on the internet that were interesting to us and then write a response. The function of these posts was to not only generate writing material for us, but to get us comfortable with using blogs while helping us become more informed. I think I did a good job in summarizing the articles I read and in giving thoughtful opinions to the topics I was passionate about.In terms of criticism for these blog posts, I wrote them fairly quickly and while I took them seriously, I could have taken more time to revise the writing I did. I think these blog posts will further support my passion for humanitarian and often contested topics such as politics and the rights of the poor.
“The Effects of the Gay Stereotype in Current American Film”
Writing 220, November 27, 2012
“The Effects of the Gay Stereotype in Current American Film” is a repurposed project we were asked to create for my Writing 220 Gateway course. The project required us to take a paper or project we had already written for a class and repurpose it both format and content-wise. I chose to take my final paper from freshman year, “An Analysis of Social Commentary on Homosexuality in American Film,” and used it to create a new paper that used multi-media and focused on current trends and stereotypes of gays portrayed in film and TV. I was so happy to be able write this paper because I was able to fix all of the problems I recognized in my first paper. I developed a much stronger critical tone in this paper and also lead the paper with my arguments instead research, as I did in the first paper.Although this paper was a big improvement from the paper I wrote freshman year, my voice is still not as mature or concise as it could be. Going through the paper again, I noticed many grammatical errors and times when I could have tightened up my wording. I think this project will be a good example of my middle-ground writing, where I had clearly improved from freshman year, but still had much room for improvement.
“Case Briefing: Martin v. The State of Florida”
Writing 220, December 16, 2012
This was my final project for Writing 220, in which we were asked to repurpose a previous paper into a new format, whether it be multimedia, a different academic style, etcetera. My interest in law prompted me to take a paper I wrote for my ENG 225 Academic Argumentation class and reformat it into a case briefing for the United States Supreme Court. My original paper argued for the repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law after the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012. I had no clue how to write a case briefing when I first started this project, so this was an especially challenging task. My goal was to make my briefing as authentic as possible while still maintaining the main components of my original paper. I think through heavy research, I was able to do so successfully. I am still very proud of this work because not only was it focused on a very controversial case, but it was also my first stab at creating a legal document.Obviously, given my little experience writing formal legal documents, the briefing could certainly use some improvement. I also feel my voice as a writer was a little constricted by the format of the document, but I knew it would be coming into this type of writing. I think this briefing was a milestone in my evolution as a writer because it showed how I could expand my writing beyond traditional academic papers. It also shows my continued interest in controversial and human-rights oriented topics.
“Mad Men: An Analysis of the Soldiers Who Survived the First World War”
History 320, November 15, 2013
“Mad Men: An Analysis of the Soldiers Who Survived the First World War” was the second paper I wrote for my first history class I took in college, History 320: British History from 1901-1939. After reading the novel Regeneration, which focuses on soldiers who were sent to a mental institution after serving in World War I, we were asked to write a paper based on some theme in the novel. I was interested in writing about a subject that is not often discussed in times of war, especially in the mid-1900s, which is mental illness among soldiers and the definition of masculinity in times of war. Considering this was only my second paper, I think I was very successful at adapting to the type of writing required for history courses, and overall I was pleased with my in-depth analyses and argument development.Although I thought this paper was very strong in terms of my arguments and ideas, I feel it could have used improvement in transitions, phrasing and other mechanical areas. I think this paper will prove useful to my essay in that it shows my writing outside of my major and my English/writing classes, and it also displays my continued interest in exploring uncomfortable or controversial topics.
“The Meaning of Violence"
English 325, December 10, 2013
“The Meaning of Violence” was the last paper I wrote for my English 325: The Art of the Essay class, and it was required to be an essay that, while not a research paper, incorporated research into the essay. After watching the TV series Breaking Bad, I was inspired to look at how violence is used on screen, what the motivation for putting it on screen is, and what we can take away, if anything, from its viewing. I think this paper was one of my most well-executed papers in that I was able to well-balance my opinions and arguments with the research I used to support them. Part of this achievement was due to the essay format as opposed to a standard research paper.The biggest criticism I have for this paper was the fact that because of time and page limit constrictions, I finished this paper with questions and ideas still left untouched on this topic. That is why my final project will be based on this topic, exploring the questions I did not have time to explore in this paper. In terms of my evolution essay, I think this paper will be a great contrast to the work I did my freshman and sophomore year in terms of showing my consistency in exploring controversial topics as well as my growth in tone and overall sophistication as a writer.
“Stranger at the Door”
English 325, December 10, 2013
This was the second paper I wrote for this class, and it was the paper I felt most connected to out of all the writing I did for this class. We were asked to write an essay about a story we had, and I chose to write about my summer of canvassing for an environmental non-profit. Working as a canvasser was one of the toughest but most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, I wanted to share my experience with readers. I felt I was successful in this essay in that my story was easily relatable to the reader and I felt I was successful in portraying a usually misunderstood figure in society, a stranger, in a new light.In my criticism of this essay, I feel it was slightly disjointed because I wanted to explain multiple things I learned from this experience, but it was hard to succinctly connect the two at times. Even though the subject of strangers is not a hotly contested issue, our societal concept of strangers is often negative. My experience showed me that this was not always the case. I think this essay will helpful in showing not only that I can tackle controversial or misunderstood subjects, but that I can address subjects that are complicated but not often thought as so.
“Mill & Torture: Analyzing Torture Through a Utilitarian Lens”
Philosophy 463, April 29, 2013
“Mill & Torture: Analyzing Torture Through a Utilitarian Lens” was my final paper for Phil 463, which was a philosophy class entirely dedicated to the works and ideas of John Stuart Mill. This paper, unlike the other papers we wrote for this class, was based on whatever topic we chose as long as it tied in some writings of John Stuart Mill. After a discussion in class, I was spurred to write about what Mill’s moral stance would be on the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay. I felt this paper was one of the most successful papers I wrote because I had originally planned to argue the opposite of what I argued in my paper. After careful thought, I realized my argument wouldn’t hold up, and there was actually more evidence that Mill would support the use of torture on suspected terrorists under Utilitarianism.The biggest struggle I had in this paper was reformatting my entire argument. While it was stressful changing my argument to the exact opposite of what I originally meant to argue, I think I did so successfully. I will use this piece in my essay to show how not only my topics of interest are controversial but even my methods of forming my argument at times are controversial as well.