DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Dear Portfolio Reader,

      The following portfolio consists of three pieces of writing, reviewed and revised until fingers burned with lactic acid and eyes teared at sight of the word "pathos." The papers were as follows: the interview paper, research argument, and analysis paper.

      The interview paper was done through the recording and transcription of an interview with my mother, a political refugee from Iran. In writing the paper it was necessary to find a proper balance between using quotation, and expanding upon what exactly was being said. Not only this, but it was necessary to decide when to elaborate upon what was physically happening during the conversation, rather than solely what was being said. Doing so allowed certain phrases to be emphasized in certain ways, and overall allowed a portrait of the subject to be vividly painted for the reader. The difficulty in conveying emotion pushed the paper to be paused and pondered for extended periods of time. This was not something which could be written in a matter of hours.

Interview Paper

      The research argument was perhaps the most difficult paper to write. In order to efficiently write such a paper, it was first necessary to do three key things: to develop an idea to argue, to research the idea, and to completely objectively formulate the argument on paper. Objectivity was key in the paper; in order for an argument to be valid it must be clear that the argument is unbiased and that it gives each side a chance. The research argument was less about claiming something and more about supporting it. 

Research Argument

      The analysis paper required an in depth reading and picking-apart of two notorious speeches: David McCullough's "You Are Not Special" commencement speech at Wellesley High School, and Barack Obama's commencement speech at Booker T. Washington High School. Aside from the speech itself, it was necessary to consider the speaker and his audience in order to understand why certain things were said, and why certain things were emphasized. Understanding the papers was a process which required time, and communicating their messages and the specific mechanics of each paper required even more time.

Analysis Paper

      This year the WRT 102 course allowed me to not only greatly improve the areas of my writing lacking in skill, but even to fine-tune the skills that I had previously believed advanced. In order to achieve, it was necessary to give pieces of writing time to evolve and strengthen; often would I find myself revisiting a page I had written a day ago only to stare awestruck that such an indecipherable sentence had come from my own mind. This course has taught me the value in giving your writing time-- that no matter how great of a writer, there is no substitute for allowing your writing time and attention to grow, just as a flower needs sun and water.

Thank you for reading,

Joshua Downes


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.