Diffraction: Literary Kinds
Looking back to the very beginning of the course, I remember thinking that I would be looking at some hardcore theory and a wider range of genres. At least this was the impression that I got from reading the first few readings in the course syllabus. I was really excited. However, the course took a slightly different path than the one that I described and I found myself, at times, struggling to find significance and also, limited by the limited genres that we encountered.
That said, I did enjoy the course as a whole – I see that by concentrating our (and my!) efforts on a handful of select genres, I was able to more fully appreciate and understand them. However, I still would have liked to see more of a theory-based spin on things, as I believe that it would have allowed me to really ground my claims as well as push me intellectually. Additionally, I wasn’t quite convinced that beginning the course with the digital humanities and the form of the academic paper was really effective. Perhaps building towards it would have been a great idea or, at the very least, I would have liked to link back to it throughout the course as I think that it is an emerging genre that is particularly pertinent in a classroom, where we are invited to generate “web events”.
But I have little to say negatively about the course. I really enjoyed the classroom discussions, though sometimes heated, as they were full of rich conversation and ideas. I also enjoyed the fact that the online discussions were just as such; I don’t think I’ve ever been in a class where the online discussion was REALLY a discussion. It was definitely interesting to see the threads that developed throughout. Additionally, it was a pleasure to work with every other student in the class as I think that each of us felt comfortable and able to share if we felt like it. Though this was the case, I did start to realize that I tended to be rather outspoken in such a small classroom. I realize that this took time away from other students that may have wanted to make a point but I did not intend for this to be a barrier to entering the conversation.
Though I have mentioned that the texts that we have looked at were somewhat limiting, I do want to say that I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was tasked to encounter texts that I would have never thought to pick up. I remember singing praises for Persepolis on Serendip after reading it – I was convinced that I hated graphic novels. But by being made to read a couple of graphic novels, I found myself wandering to that aisle in the bookstore. In fact, I have a friend’s copy of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel on my desk right now. I also enjoyed that we were asked to read some science fiction, another genre that I would not ever have thought of enjoying. However, I found Slaughterhouse Five to be insightful and I want to find some more Vonnegut to read. Thus, I do think that there was another upside to the course: I got to discover genres that I would never have thought to explore at all.
In terms of my papers, I’m quite proud of what I’ve produced this semester. With an eye towards flexibility in academic writing, I’ve started to find my way towards a framework designed to help you think critically about presenting information in various forms. As a comparative media studies major, I have to say that this experimentation has proved to be invaluable as I start thinking about future papers and presentations. That said, I do feel that I need to perhaps be more critical as I write the paper, rather than look back in retrospect to identify issues.
Further, I liked that we had the opportunity to pick our texts in the second-half of the semester. I really liked the freedom that this gave us and I liked that (it seemed to me anyway!) each person was able to agree on something that they were particularly passionate about. I believe that this made classroom participation and conversation a lot stronger and this aspect of the course should not be changed.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this class because of its “playful” nature. The classroom dynamics were really good and I really liked that each of us drew from a range of different backgrounds to bring to the discussion. Though there were certain things that I was not entirely a fan of (as I have laid out in this diffraction), I feel as though they were somewhat insignificant in the wider scheme of things.