Welcome to Kirk Plays, a website for work I’ve created in David Morgen’s English 101 class in the Spring of 2019. This site is where I posted all the work I did in connection with the class, the main website for which is https://eng101s19.davidmorgen.org/.
Over the year, I really came to enjoy writing in English class. In high school, English was always confined to writing about and analyzing literature. I definitely won’t bash on the importance of studying literature, but it wasn’t what I really enjoyed. This year, I had the opportunity to explore my writing free from the confines of literature. I also won’t lie and say that this class allowed me to break out of standardized five paragraph essays, where I argue something, have three big supporting ideas and then wrap it all up at the end. That’s because I was fortunate enough to go to a great school district that prepared me well. In high school, I wrote a senior thesis analyzing a theme across multiple authors in an essay of about 14 pages. What this class did teach me was how to effectively practice the skills I had begun to develop in High School, but at a collegiate level. To me, the main difference between the two was the amount of freedom I had. In high school, I was still given the independence to pick a thesis topic and find supporting primary and secondary sources, but my argument was still confined to literature. Additionally, my argument had to be presented in a traditional paper. However, this past year I explored multiple other types of writing.
The most unfamiliar writing medium for me was the podcast. It made sense conceptually: you just say your argument out loud. However, working with audio presents a whole new world of opportunities and challenges. Speech allows for a lot more range in terms of tone. When speaking, you control the pace of the delivery and the literal tone of your voice. Together, these can add onto the text itself to convey additional layers of meaning. I played with this to give my podcast on the SAT a bit of sarcasm. In my meeting with Professor Morgen, we discussed the stances I could take on the episode. He agreed that since it’s my work, I can be biased and derisive. He said I could be a little “tongue in cheeky” with the episode, which I did. I wanted to tease out the the subject, I kept the title as “The Worst Game You’ve Ever Played,” and had fun with the intro making it clear that this is something “we all hated” but we all still “played.” I then went on to discussing the content of the episode which was the SAT (and by extension the ACT). I enjoyed that my writing allowed me to research and take a stance on a current social issue. And as a college student, this topic was especially relatable. I also considered that my audience would only be people with connections to college (either my peers in the class or those who were sent the podcast series). As such, I understood that everyone would have a familiarity with how studying for the SAT really works. The purpose of this text was clear: explain why the SAT is a game and how that makes the test ridiculous. When it came to recording, I was fortunate enough to have my assistant producer agree with my stance. Together, we were able to present a clear argument against the SAT. I acknowledge that since we agreed we were heavily biased, but that was part of the purpose of the episode. I wasn’t trying to be a journalist or way the exam fairly; I wanted to rant against this unfair game which all of us have to play to get here. Working with a partner also was a new experience that changed my writing process. I was able to set the frame, but I couldn’t unilaterally create this piece of writing. Having an assistant producer meant we were constantly retrying material. With the medium being a podcast, we also had difficulties saying our thoughts clearly, so we were also constantly revising the work while we went. Our recorded audio was over 90 minutes long, but our end product was just about a tenth of that. Overall, I am proud of the podcast episode I created because I pushed myself into exploring a new medium and created a pointed piece of writing.
Another assignment I am proud of was What’s In My Bag. In this project, I took a picture of the contents of my backpack and posted it with a description of the items. This assignment made me reflect on my day to day life and how I operate. I don’t usually post a lot online or open up much to those who don’t me, so I’m happy now that I was able to put myself out there a little bit. The image didn’t reveal anything about me that anyone who has met me wouldn’t easily discern, but I just like knowing that I opened myself up for anyone, even if it was published under an anonymous site.
I have undeniably used skills from this class in other classes at Emory. My other main writing class is my freshman seminar in History studying the Hippocratic Oath and ancient medicine. My midterm essay was a clear example of writing while recursively revising. My essay was on principles of Hippocratic medicine; essentially, I identified a few principles and explained where in the Hippocratic writings they’re shown. I went into the project having brainstormed four principles but as I researched and read more Hippocratic texts, I realized they weren’t effective categories. I didn’t try to force them, but instead just changed my principles to follow what I was reading, and in this way developed a much stronger argument. By the way– “first do no harm” isn’t in the Hippocratic Oath, that’s a modern thing. Doctors today for the most part don’t swear on the original Hippocratic Oath, it’s a weird text. Also in the same class I wrote a research paper on an anatomy book written in 1543 by a Belgium physician, Andreas Vesalius (Emory’s Rose library has a first edition it’s worth going to see). Without going into excessive detail, I am analyzing the decorated initial characters Vesalius uses and interpreting the messages in them. Here’s one I wrote about for reference:
I am trying to get approval for an independent research study to do more work on the subject next Fall, and to go with my application I am working on a WordPress website. The interactive nature lends itself well to my research, which is compartmentalized by each letter. The site’s pretty rough right now, but I’m hoping to polish it up before the application deadline. I think the website will be an effective way to showcase what I have researched so far and to demonstrate where more research is needed.