Portfolio analysis

Welcome to my portfolio, and welcome to kateweaverwrites.com. I created this website many years ago as a way to display my work for potential clients who wished to hire me as a freelance copywriter and editor. My website has been through many incarnations and this iteration is likely just one more version in a long span of evolution, but for now, it serves its purpose well. I designed my website using WordPress and I am entirely self-taught, so please forgive any flaws in the web design – I am a liberal arts major, not a computer science aficionado! The look of the site is meant to be simple but inviting and I chose the white background to offset the colorful graphics I have pinned to each of my written entries.

   For my portfolio, I have chosen four pieces that I wrote during my time in the M.A program here at Arizona State. They are titled as follows; “Literacy Narratives,” “Why I Write,” “Manifestations of Identity: Marquez and Murakami,” and “Posthumanism: The River That Cannot Be Dammed.” I chose these four entries because they represent the lowest and highest grades I received over the course of my studies and show my evolution as a writer. They also highlight my struggle with (and victory over) critical analysis-style writing, which I have always been challenged by. The aforementioned essays are accompanied by a selection of creative pieces I have written in the last six months as well as several professional commissions I have created for clients within the last year. I believe my portfolio to be an excellent survey of my work and a showcase of how my skills have developed over my time spent in the English Studies program.

  The first essay I’ve selected to be featured in my portfolio was written for English 504, Cross Cultural Studies: Posthumanism, taught by Dr. Gregory Castle. The paper is titled “Posthumanism: The River That Cannot be Dammed.” This course was the most challenging class I took throughout the M.A program, and this essay was also the piece I struggled to write the most. The paper was classified as a “Critical Analysis Essay” and critical analysis has always been the weakest of my writing skillsets because I struggle to synthesize cohesive, specific theses. I tend to ramble on and present evidence tangentially without connecting it back to my central argument. I also struggled to connect with the prompt and source material because, admittedly, I didn’t find it particularly interesting.

     Additionally, this essay came with a page and word count requirement that I felt was extremely limiting. However, in hindsight, those requirements likely pushed me to tailor my central claim into clear, concise language. I didn’t have the opportunity to ramble (much), so I was forced to choose my words extremely carefully. Normally an essay of this length could take me about two days to write, but I started this paper two weeks in advance to allow myself ample time to brainstorm and produce multiple drafts. My first draft was over twelve pages and failed to accurately present my thesis in a way that was understandable. My claim was lost in anecdotal evidence and exposition. Once I pared down my argument to the page and word count requirement, my thesis was clear. I received a 92% on this paper and I was exceedingly proud of myself for successfully overcoming my greatest challenge: critical analysis.

       However, there is a great deal I would like to change about this piece, both stylistically and technically. I believe I could cut the word count nearly in half and be able to argue my central claim just as effectively, but I had to meet a word count and page requirement for this assignment, which I believe led to some unnecessary wordiness. I would also reexamine the source material and gather more evidence in support of my claim so that I could back up my argument even further. As far as strengths, I think this essay is a fine example of my ability to craft academic narratives that are entertaining and pleasurable to read rather than purely informative, which stem from my creative writing abilities.

   The second paper I’ve chosen for my portfolio was written for English 556, Theories in Literacy, taught by Dr. Elenore Long. The paper is titled “Literacy Narratives” and the prompt for this essay was to consider two different displays of literacy and analyze how they featured individual primary discourses. I was introduced to the work of language researcher James Gee in this class and his studies have had a profound impact on the way I now view the process of learning. Our foundational, primary discourses are comprised of not only our native tongue, but our cultural and social practices as well. They influence how we interpret the rest of the world and acquire secondary discourses, or any practice outside of our primary discourse. As I wrote this paper, the importance of empathy in academia began to take shape in my mind. If we first consider our differences, we can move forward in shared learning experiences with open minds. As someone who struggles with a learning disability, this lesson hit home for me. Writing this essay was a very deductive process and I learned a great deal about how I learn and view the world around me.

      There is not much I would modify in this essay if I was given the chance to resubmit it. Perhaps I could have added more evidence from the interviews with the two female subjects, but I don’t believe it would have made a profound impact on my claim. I think this essay was successful because I believe passionately in my argument as I have been in a similar situation in which my own literacy narrative and primary discourse were disregarded in favor of a rigid curriculum and unfair grading practices.

    The third paper I’ve selected for my portfolio was written for English 560, Magical Realism as a Global Genre, taught by Dr. Claudia Sadowski-Smith. The paper is titled “Manifestations of Identity: Marquez and Murakami” and serves as a critical comparison and analysis of a variety of selected works by the two celebrated magical realism authors. This is a paper that I am particularly proud of because I finally felt like I understood the critical analysis task at hand and didn’t struggle nearly as much as I normally would have. I was familiar with the genre prior to taking this course, but the class allowed me to dissect and discuss the source material in ways I wasn’t afforded during my high school and undergraduate studies.

    As I would in my essay on Posthumanism, I would change several things in my critical analysis paper on Marquez and Murakami. I would start by revisiting the source material and selecting better examples of identity and or revise my analysis of the examples I chose to present my claim more succinctly. Even though this essay was a success grade-wise, it’s still not an example of my best work. However, because the source material deals with magical realism, which is a highly creative genre, I was able to insert some creative writing tactics within the essay to make it read more like an editorial piece than a scholarly piece

   My fourth selection for my portfolio is an essay I wrote for English 507, Methods and Issues in Teaching Composition taught by Dr. Shawn Towner. The essay is titled ‘Why I Write’ and the prompt was to consider our writing histories and create a chronological timeline of our literary journeys. This piece was by far the most personal paper I’ve ever written for academic purposes. When I first read the prompt, my initial thought was, “oh, this will be a piece of cake,” but as I brainstormed and outlined, I realized that my writing journey was far from a cakewalk. My writing story is in many ways my life story. I am a writer, and I have been since the tender age of seven. I had never considered how and why I became a writer in the first place until this assignment, and as I reflected back on my adolescence and early days of writing my James Bond story, I realized just how far I’ve come. This essay helped me to understand why I’ve developed the ‘voice’ I have as a writer and it also helped me come to terms with the fact that I am a creative writer at heart, and just because I struggle with academic writing, that doesn’t negate my literary skills. Before entering the M.A program, I wasn’t confident in my writing skills despite spending the last four years dedicated to the craft as I worked towards my Bachelor’s degree. I didn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate my creative writing abilities as much as I would have liked during my time at San Diego State University and was continually tasked with research essays and analytical papers that I struggled with a great deal. I began to think that I had chosen the wrong major, that I wasn’t the writer I thought I was. But in hindsight, all those years of struggling to articulate my central claims and argue in precise terms, and researching obscure topics only made me a holistically better writer.  Stylistically, there is not much I would change about this essay if I had the chance to redo it. There are some technical aspects I would modify such as word flow and verb tense that I would edit, but because this is such a personal essay, I was able to convey precisely what I meant.

   I entered this program in August of 2021 feeling lost, defeated, and unsure of my future as a writer. Despite receiving high marks during my undergraduate course of study, I was no longer confident in my writing skills or potential to turn writing into my career. I struggled to write even the most basic of essays and this was due to a fear of failure and the belief that I couldn’t be a writer if I didn’t adopt the academic, erudite writing ‘voice’ that so often appears in scholarly, peer-reviewed essays. But after learning more about writing education and the future landscape of academia in courses like those taught by Dr. Towner and Dr. Long, I have a renewed sense of hope and optimism that voices (and learning styles) like mine will be accepted and even celebrated one day. Yes, the program of study I followed featured courses that frustrated, challenged, and irked me at times, but by overcoming those obstacles, I leave this program a far better writer than when I entered it. I am confident in my abilities and proud of the voice I have. My portfolio encompasses the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but it also charts my progression from meek and unsure to assertive and proud.

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