ENG 363 was certainly a unique experience. I think that most of the students in the class were attached to the conventional routines of academia in which we already do well, so it was difficult and often puzzling to let go of the familiar and succeed in different ways. I was certainly guilty of this and often felt lost without my deadlines and grades and tried-and-true markers of progress. However, it showed me that I have merely been achieving the same goal over and over again in my other classes. I already know how to write an A paper, do well on tests, and succeed in your average English class. Yes, I learn new information, but I rarely learn new skills.
Even though ENG 363 was at times overwhelming and confusing, it allowed me to produce work in ways I never have before. Like most students, I have a specific and trusted formula for my essays that has landed me a lot of A’s, but its ultimately useless in the real world of writing. I appreciated how this class pushed me to try writing exercises that were much more free flowing and unfamiliar. Even writing this, I am less concerned with formula than I am with expressing myself candidly.
The Civic Engagement project was my favorite task of the semester, because it felt like I was using my personal knowledge and experience with a real problem to produce a comprehensive information center that could potentially help anyone as confused as I was before I did the research. It made me feel like I was actually participating in social media culture in a useful way. However, at the same time, I read Wark’s Spectacle of Disintegration much more recently than the Participatory Cultures Handbook, and I still feel a tinge of cynicism. To a certain degree, I see how I am just contributing to the spectacle by over saturating the internet with another webpage about another problem that will quite honestly not make a difference. “The critique of everyday life happens all the time in the disintegrating spectacle, but this critique falls short of any project transforming it.”
I have quite a few friends who also have PTLDS, and many of them are active on social media about their struggle and participate in online communities that connect sufferers. I think its great that this is available to people who need an outlet for their frustrations and a source of solidarity, but there is something I don't personally like about using hashtags to and instagram posts to talk about Lyme. It reminds me of the readings we did on slacktivism. I'm unsure how many people are being honest about their experience and how many are simply exploiting it to get attention and likes. I've refrained from participating in these online communities and from posting on any of my social media sites because I am hesitant and critical about social media in general. This class allowed me to think deeper about why I feel such a reservation regarding social media and provided me with a vocabulary to think critically and constructively about how I participate.
The most important thing that I learned from this class is that this type of writing is not my preferred method of expressing myself. Particularly with my research and civic engagement projects, I really wanted to produce something meaningful that I felt proud of-- an honest expression of an issue I am passionate about. I took all the time given to me to do my best work, but even after all this time I do not feel like conveyed the exact message I wanted to. This struggle sort of helped me realize that writing is not what I'm meant to do-- it's not my proper meeting point of work and desire. I was particularly struck by some of the point made in the Spectacle of Disintegration about the separation of work and desire, and I was later struck by something he said in an interview: "Well, there is no longer any difference between work and play. There’s no such thing as leisure and non-leisure. We’re all working all the friggin’ time. But when we’re working, we’re goofing off half that time anyway. Does anyone even know when they’re working anymore?"
It made me think about why I'm majoring in English. Why? Writing feels like work that is completely separate from my desire, which is to make art. Something about our culture has conditioned me to think that the two need to be separate, but I don't want to pay attention the that pressure anymore. I decided over the summer to take classes at SCAD and pursue graphic design in an effort to bring my work and desire a little closer together. Thanks in part to these critical theories that gave provoked my conscious and gave me a little push.
The way I wrote was also a departure from my normal routine. I’ll admit, for typical academic