I’ve been at NDSU for three years now, but I’ve only been in English for one semester. After having taken four English classes this semester, I am positive that I have finally found the right course plan for me. I’ve found every course very encouraging, and I thoroughly enjoy the work we do in them. In English 167, I particularly enjoyed our first major essay. I absolutely love doing literary analysis, even when accused of being nit-picky or “reading into” things too much. I enjoyed Moby Dick, or the opening at least, and I felt it was ripe for analysis. All the different possible interpretations made it great to discuss, which is why I enjoyed the the pecha kucha presentation. Hearing others’ differing views on the same subject was a good experience, because as I mentioned in the presentation itself, I didn’t understand how anybody could have had a different interpretation of the novel until we began working on the Pecha Kucha.
If my capstone presentation were next semester, I would probably do it on David Lynch. I just finished writing a paper for my English 275 course about the male gaze in David Lynch films, and I really love that sort of work. I analyzed how Lynch reworks the stock character of the femme fatale in order to make viewers reconsider their assumptions about film narrative. I don’t know if that would be a proper topic for a capstone, but I would be interested in doing something similar.
Of the capstone presentations I watched, I particularly enjoyed Rachel Grider’s presentation about the invented languages in Richard Adams’s Watership Down. The concept of fictional languages is something that has always interested me, and this was one I had never read about before. I think the reason it is so interesting is that the idea of creating a language from scratch is so daunting that it seems impossible. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, so I have respect for people who have that ability. The research done for this capstone was interesting because it seemed like she was one of the few people to have really delved into the topic this deeply, and she made a good case for why it was an important thing to study. I wouldn’t say Watership Down is overlooked, but it certainly is the most common novel for this sort of research. The slides were also well done. I don’t know what program was used, but the zoom effect into and out of the different bubbles was cool.
I also enjoyed the capstone about invented languages in video games for similar reasons. Video Games, I feel, are too often scoffed at by academics, and to take them seriously as a project requires one to tread new ground, especially when dealing with the linguistic aspects. The way language is used in games as a medium differs greatly from how they are used in literature and film, and I believe that is a topic worth discussing.
I believe that my greatest strength so far in English is being able to read both analytically and for pleasure simultaneously. Whenever I approach a work, any work, I am constantly thinking about what exactly each part of it means. A lot of people like to turn off that part of their brain when doing things for pleasure because they feel that the analysis ruins the enjoyment, but I can’t find enjoyment out of anything unless I fully understand it. It is this drive to understand what people mean when they write that makes me enjoy English studies. The Lynch paper is an excellent example of this because I had essentially written it all out in my head before I ever planned on doing the assignment. I become obsessed with a work and need to know everything about it.
A skill I want to work on as an English major is to become more confident in my writing. I feel like I am terrible at critiquing my own writing, and often have no idea how a paper will turn out until I get peer review on it.
For the portfolio assignment, I revised my “Why Read Moby Dick” essay. I fixed the MLA formatting which was incorrect throughout, and I added a couple points at Dr. Brooks’s suggestion about the Squeeze of the Hand chapter. I also ditched a paragraph because it relied on a quote from Melville that I couldn’t find an adequate source for. I also went through the paper and fixed funny wording or capitalization errors.