The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing

Final Portfolio and Reflection Letter

Length: 1000 – 1250 words (4-5 pages)

Due date: 12/17

Look back over the writing you’ve encountered and produced this semester, and then draft a cover letter for your portfolio that explains how you have met the learning outcomes for this course. This letter is an opportunity to think about your writing and clarify — for yourself and portfolio readers — how your skills and awareness of your writing processes have grown this semester. Think of each piece of writing included in your portfolio as an “exhibit” that you are analyzing and reflecting on in this letter.

What should your letter do?

  • Explicitly address the course outcomes and how you encountered them throughout the reading and writing for the course.
  • Guide your readers through the exhibits, discussing your writing while looking for larger patterns. What do you see about yourself as a writer when you step back and look at the work you’ve produced this semester?
  • Discuss at least one piece of writing in depth, considering the stages of the writing process as it developed. How did you think about audience, purpose, or genre while you wrote this piece?
  • Explain how you have applied (or will apply in the future) insights from this course in your other classes or other rhetorical situations. Use specific examples, if possible.
  • Employ evidence to support your claims. Just like in the other writing assignments you’ve completed this semester, you will need evidence to support of your argument; however, in this case, the evidence you will use is your own writing.
    • Remember that you need to incorporate quotes into your own writing with clear framing language.
    • Also remember that you always need your own interpretation and analysis of any quote you use in order for it work as evidence.
    • Forms of evidence from your writing exhibits could include, but are not limited to: quotes from your own finished writing (embedded in sentences or longer quotes in blocks); quotes from early drafts of your writing or notes; reported or quoted feedback from others; illustrations or quotations that show how a particular exhibit evolved; or screenshots or images from your work.

Publishing your cover letter

The reflection essay should become the new home (or index) page for your course site and should begin with a note indicating that the site is an archive of the work that you completed as part of ENG101 at Emory University during spring semester 2018. You should link to the course site, so that a reader who is going through your work can easily find out more information about the course you were in.

You should organize the work on your course site into a finished portfolio showing all the work you have done this semester. Make certain that your entire course subdomain looks complete, coherent, and like you’ve given some thought to its overall design and aesthetics.

Just like with any assignment you’ve completed this semester, your reflection letter should include at least one image (though you can certainly include more than one. You might consider using your Assemblies image as the primary or feature image for your letter — hopefully constructing that chart will help you to think about how the work you have completed this semester fits together, and hopefully it will help to communicate that understanding to your readers.

Halfa Kucha

Pecha Kucha Background

pecha kucha is a particular style of oral and visual presentation where speakers present while showing 20 slides, each one timed to display for exactly 20 seconds. Hence, every pecha kucha presentation lasts for 6 minutes, 40 seconds. 

Here’s a sample pecha kucha, which I chose almost at random from the pecha kucha site, called “Drawing to Document,” by Charis Loke:

For your third major project this semester, you’ll perform something akin to a pecha kucha, but in order to keep the scope of the assignment manageable and to have enough time for you to give your presentations to the class, we’re cutting the number of slides you’ll have in half — so you’ll have exactly 200 seconds, with 10 accompanying images, to present your argument.

Trauma and Recovery

In Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror Judith Lewis Herman observes:

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called “doublethink,” and which mental health professionals, searching for calm, precise language, call “dissociation.” It results in protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms

And here’s another quote from the same book:

Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.

Assignment Fundamentals

Due: In class presentations on 11/19 and 11/21. (We’ll spend the first 45 minutes of each class on presentations. Please be sure to attend class on these days and be a good, attentive, respectful audience for your peers.)

Medium: This presentation will take the form of a “halfa kucha,” which means that you will create ten slides that will each stay on the screen for 20 seconds before automatically progressing to the next slide. Each slide should have a compelling visual image on it with no or very minimal text. Over the three minutes and twenty seconds of the slideshow you will explain your argument orally to the class. I will ask you afterwards to export the slideshow as a video or PDF to publish to your site along with a description of your argument.

Audience: The audience is your classmates, so they have read and thought about and discussed the books. But just like with other assignments this semester, assume that you are the smartest, most perceptive reader in the class and you have noticed things the rest of the class has not.

Tone: You can choose a tone ranging from casual to “academic casual” to very formal. Whatever fits your argument, personality, and presentation style the best. Remember, though, that you’re talking about trauma — so if you decide to be casual, still be respectful to the subject and to the sensibilities of your audience.

Title: You are required to have an interesting title for your presentation.


Thinking about the two quotes from Herman above and Hillary Chute’s “Introduction: Women, Comics, and the Risk of Representation” that we read earlier this semester, present to the class an argument about how two or three of the books we have read this semester investigate and represent trauma and healing.