For the upcoming photo essay assignment, I have decided to choose option #2, the vintage family style photograph of myself. I believe this is the more challenging of the two options and I also believe this assignment will allow me to demonstrate my awareness of semiotics, something that I have been struggling with all semester long.
I felt a deep connection with Annette Kuhn’s 1991 article “Remembrance: The Child I Never Was” as she wrote about how photographs can create conflicting memories. There were many times over the years where I would go through boxes in my household closet or attic and flip through family photo albums that contained pictures of my mother’s and father’s baby photos and pictures of their respective families and then find a slew of my baby and childhood photos, and much like Kuhn’s mother, my own mother would write either a date, a year or a location that was connected to the photo (and sometimes get the date or location mixed up with another photo/memory). There is something to be said about the time away from a photograph and how we place previous memories or expectations on a piece of paper and I would really like to dive into my own history, dig up some young photographs of myself and through my understanding of photographic history and theory, look at these vintage photographs with a critical eye and in-depth understanding.
I believe choosing this option will not only require some self-awareness of my past and honesty about what my childhood represents (today), but what those moments meant to the person taking the picture (the photographer).
When thinking of a topic to explore deeper for the video mashup assignment I wasn’t entirely sure of what to pick. I believe that I have multiple organizations or concepts that I feel very strongly about, but when looking at them, it was too difficult to look at the other side of the argument. I strongly disagree with using animals of any kind for testing of drugs or cosmetics or any other products that humans will use because I views humans as animals and you will not find me volunteering for some harsh drug testing treatment. I am already decided I wanted something else.
One organization in particular that I follow caught my eye specifically for this assignment. Liberty in North Korea.
Following organization intently for about two years, I have never once done my own research on the issues at hand. In fact, I regret to say that I do not know much about the country’s politics or history. I’ve only ever thought that whatever going on in North Korea was wrong and honestly that’s not a good enough argument. I want to use this assignment to independently explore what is actually going on in North Korea and specifically look into cultural aspects. One problem I’ve come to realize about America and Americans that we always think that is our job to change other people situations because we perceive them to be wrong. I want to challenge this idea. Though weary, I wish to find and connect to other instances that America has intervened as the ‘hero’ and explore the current situation for the people of North Korea. This appears to be a challenge because North Korea is a dead zone and videos about it are perceptions. It is important to remember throughout my search for material that I need to look at the sources and take in the specific idea the creator may hold.
I will be looking towards US presidential speeches, as well as using images that will explore how the people both in and outside of North Korea view North Korea. If I do find images of North Korea, I expect them to give me stereotypical poverty images or unified marching in the streets and on the contrast the high riches of the governing families. I think that I would like to include traditional North Korean music when reviewing their views and possibly look towards an over dramatic song for going over America want to change and help other cultures. I am unsure of the specif tone I wish to set, but I feel I am already beginning to approach this in a satirical manner.
One of the biggest challenges composition instructors face is the way students initially approach writing. Most first-year/freshmen students are familiar with the five-paragraph essay, timed essay prompts and standardized writing. This type of writing tends to marginalize important aspects such as revision, reflection, brainstorming (as with many standardized test, students are NOT given any scratch paper to compose an outline or plan their ‘3 main points’) and portfolio assessment.
Instructors at the collegiate level have to do their best to decompose their writing styles within a limited time frame, but most students who do not spend a lot of time thinking about their own writing will continue to write this way. Perhaps composition is somehow winning the war, as news broke this week that in 2016, the SAT will make the essay portion of the test optional. But prior to these planned changes, students were taught to make up events while writing or given questions to answer that included fictional settings and characters, which in fact will not help students at the college level (sometimes there is no concern with factual accuracy, so these tests are encouraging students to make up events, as long as words fill up the blank pages!).
What I am proposing is a creating a video mash up that brings awareness to standardize testing/writing and how it can stifle creativity. I don’t think many know about the idea of teaching to the test and the issues that come along with the belief that students should retain the same exact information for one national (or state) test, regardless of thinking about a students’ background, nationality, or career aspirations/interests.
With this video I am not looking to end standardizing/prompt writing, but simply let others know there’s more that meets the eye when we practice ‘timed-essays’ in a classroom setting and issues that go along with high-school level writing. I could also raise awareness of how college officials and administrators rely on testing scores and numbers to decide whether an individual student should be accepted. Overall, I think this is a unique topic to explore, especially using multimodal communication.
I think my deep understanding of composition studies, along with my interest in pop culture (television, music, movies, celebrity) will allow me to blend the two worlds together in an interesting and compelling way.