Welcome to The Secret Language of Comics

Welcome to ENG101 (section 11), The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing.

I look forward to working with you this semester.

Your homework to complete before we meet again on Tuesday, September 3:

  • Read over this website very carefully as it constitutes the syllabus for this course. Note that the Syllabus page includes a number of subpages, covering such topics as: how to contact me; the course learning outcomes; the texts you need to buy; attendance, participation, and other policies; and how you will be graded. There is also a calendar of readings and assignments; and posts describing the three major assignments (literacy narrative in three parts, tracing pages, and halfa kucha) and minor assignments this semester.
  • Add this site to your bookmarks. Make certain that you can find your way back here, because you’ll be spending a lot of time visiting these pages over the course of this semester.
  • Sign up for a basic, free WordPress site. (See further information below about choosing a name for your site.) Note: If you already own a domain and server space, come talk to me to determine whether you can use that instead of creating a site on WordPress.com.
  • Leave a comment on this post asking a question about the syllabus. Put the URL for the WordPress site you created in the “website” line on the comment form. If you want to receive an email every time a new post goes up on this site, check the “Subscribe to site” box before you submit your comment.
  • Reply to this survey form, which both asks some basic information I’ll need in order to manage communications with you and also asks some questions that will help me get to know you a little bit better.
  • Read the following two texts: Andrea Lunsford, “Rhetorical Situations” and “Reading Rhetorically” from Everyone’s an Author and Allie Brosh, “Adventures in Depression, Part One” from Hyperbole and a Half. (Note that first link will take you to the PDF that I’ve uploaded to our electronic course reserves, so you will need to login with your Emory netid and password to access the document. The second link goes to Hyperbole and a Half on blogger. Allie Brosh has since published the story in her book, Hyperbole and a Half, which is excellent, but we can use this version on the web for this course.)

A little more on naming your WordPress site

You can choose a URL based on some version of your name (i.e., janestudent.wordpress.com or johndoe.wordpress.com) if you’d like. Using a version of your name has the advantage that you will be building a digital identity on the web based on your name, which can be really helpful. On the other hand, it also means that this site that you’re building will likely come up near the top of web searches for your name, so consider whether that is something you would like.

If you don’t want to publish your coursework on a site with a version of your name, you can also use some sort of pseudonym for your domain name.

It is also perfectly acceptable for your domain name to be a short word or phrase that is easy to remember and spell, and which speaks to some interest of yours or an aspect of your character (for example: my friend Audrey Watters, a noted educational technology scholar and researcher publishes a site called hackeducation.com; Tanine Allison, a professor of Media Studies here at Emory who just published her first book entitled Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Media, uses destructivesublime.com as her domain name; or one of my favorite art and design blogs is called thisiscolossal.com). If you’re going to choose a title or phrase as your domain name, make sure you think about it very carefully so you don’t show up on one of those lists of the most unfortunate domain names ever, like the design firm called Speed of Art that ended up with a domain name that sounds like it’s about flatulence in a swimsuit. Note that in the case of your site, you’ll be publishing a page that’s a subdomain of WordPress.com, so if Audrey Watters were in this class her site might be called hackeducation.wordpress.com.


    1. The first three learning outcomes are shared across every section of first year writing class at Emory (ENG 101, ENG 181, and CPLT 110). Those are the core learning outcomes for first year writing, so probably the most important ones. The other two learning outcomes are specific to this section of the class and to the sort of work that we’ll be doing together this semester.

    1. I’ll meet with each of you individually starting on September 13, right after you’ve completed the first draft of the first part of your literacy narrative. I’ll give you instructions then about signing up for a conference. There will be another point later in the semester when I’ll want to set up individual appointments with everyone, probably the beginning of November.

      In the meantime, you can stop by my office during office hours (the hour right before class every morning) anytime and you can always email me to set up another time to meet for whatever reason. I’m busy but I will find a time that will work for both of us to meet whenever you have questions or concerns. I fully expect that we’ll meet individually much more frequently than twice in the semester.

  1. As for the final portfolio, how can we better prepare for it step by step throughout the semester? What reflection should we do after each phase of the course is done?

    1. I’ll be asking you to reflect on your work at each step of the semester. The main thing I’d suggest is that you take those reflections seriously and make a concerted effort to pay attention to your own writing process and learning, then make those visible in the reflection pieces.

  2. In the “learning outcomes” section of the syllabus, you mention that a good digital citizenship will be one of our major takeaways from this course. Also, many of the assignments including creating avatars and editing our own websites require the use of technology. Why do you think that acquiring a digital identity is important for us? What inspires you to incorporate the use of technology as a part of this course?

    1. It’s such an important set of skills now, for a myriad of reasons. So much of our lives are online now such that digital citizenship is simply becoming a new fundamental set of skills, but many of the students I talk to have gotten very little training in it — many teachers and parents are unprepared to teach young people about digital spaces so instead they just warn them to stay away from it all and to not post anything online. But that is a real disservice to you, in my opinion. You need to have opportunities to work on the web and learn how to do so effectively.

  3. In the syllabus, under the course assessment sub-heading, you included that we will be working on a portfolio that spans the semester, when we are working on the portfolio will we have to work on it on our own time or will we have certain days of class where we will specifically focus on it?

    1. Both. You’ll be working on assignments over the course of the semester, all of which will become part of the portfolio. You’ll write short reflective essays along the way too, which will help you to pull together your final reflection at the end of the semester. Most of the writing you do will take place out of class, but there will be times when we work on some of it in class and we’ll discuss it both in class and in individual conferences.

    2. Also, it looks like you need to complete some more steps to get your site published. The link you include here is to your WordPress dashboard not to the site itself. I think you site should be here (https://andresvelasquez905687008.wordpress.com/) but you haven’t actually activated the site here. Get in touch with me if you need help figuring out what still needs to be done to get the site up.

    1. I don’t have the same sort of formula that many instructors use for final grades. We will be using a grading contract, so as you complete drafts I’ll give you feedback for improvement but the only grades you’ll receive before the end of the semester will be to let you know whether the work you have completed is proficient, below proficient, or excellent. All of your work is still in draft form until you submit the final portfolio at the end of the semester.

      At the end of the semester, if you’ve completed all the major assignments with proficiency, then you will receive at least a B for your final grade. If you have a strong final portfolio and/or have taken some risks and stretched yourself, then you’ll receive an A for the final grade.

    1. I’m not grading you based on artistic ability, though I also don’t really believe that there is some sort of innate artistic ability — it’s a skill that you develop with practice and attention just like any other skill. All of us have artistic abilities. If you do all your drawings with stick figures, that’s fine, but I still expect you to pay attention to the sorts of techniques we’ll study in order to present your ideas with clarity.

  4. What would you say is the split between literature and technology in this class? Because when reading over the syllabus it seems like there might need to be a previous knowledge of technology.

    1. You definitely do not need previous specialized technology experience. I’m assuming you have a little bit of literacy using web-based apps and services, but if you don’t come talk to me. For services like WordPress, which are widely used and designed to be intuitive, I’ve found it best to offer assistance or answer questions as needed, rather than to spend time in class walking you step by step through tasks. If you ever have any questions about how to do something, feel free to ask for help and/or search the web for tips.

    1. I’m not sure how to answer your question. What do you mean by “heavy” and “light” content? Do you mean which are more depressing? Or which are more difficult to understand?

    1. We’ll talk more about the grading system this week. I think it’s pretty confusing for a lot of Emory students, and there is a fair amount of anxiety because it’s different than what almost all of you are used to, but once you understand how it works there is generally a lot of appreciation for the system.

  5. What is the difference between the assignment and writing due categories on the schedule, since some of them are both?
    Will we receive grammar and syntax grades separate from our assignment grade for writing we turn in?

    1. I don’t really *grade* grammar and syntax. If there are significant enough problems in grammar and syntax that they lead to confusion about what you’re saying or that they point to significant confusion on your part, then I’ll want to discuss with you where those problems are coming from, but I try to engage with them at the level of thinking, not of correcting mistakes. If you have specific concerns about some area of grammar or syntax, come talk to me.

  6. In the “Materials, Texts, Services” section of the syllabus, Lynda.com is listed as one of the services we’ll be utilizing in this course. Will we need to create an account with our Emory email to access the tutorials, or is there a universal login for all of the class to use?

    *My question was answered in class; students can click “Sign In,” followed by “Sign in with your organization portal,” where they will enter “emory.edu”and complete the ensuing steps.*

    1. Some of them will probably take place during my office hours, but especially during the moments where I want to meet with everyone in the class around an assignment, I’ll have additional times when I’m available and will have you sign up for a time. I’m also available outside my office hours if you need to meet at other times — just let me know. Honestly, you should be driving a lot of what happens in those conferences. The goal is for them to meet your needs, so it will depend on what questions you have or what you want to accomplish in a meeting.

  7. I noticed that we will be submitting most of our work through an online platform. Will we also be tested on our ability to present information to the class? If so, how will using an online platform help us to strengthen the skills necessary to give an oral presentation?

    1. I’m not going to be giving you any tests, per se, in this class. For the Halfa Kucha assignment you’ll be presenting an argument orally with visual cues, and I’ll present resources around doing so effectively on this site and in class. I’m currently not 100% certain whether I will require that you post audio and video of your presentation on your site. We’ll negotiate those terms when the assignment date gets closer.

    1. You’ll definitely be doing both. You’ll also be reflecting on yourself as a writer and on the writing you do for this class, and that reflection will sometimes take place together as a class and sometimes will be in the form of you writing individually outside of class.

    1. Probably Spinning. For reasons we’ll most likely talk about as we read it.

      I think each individual should make decisions about that sort of thing based on what works best for them. Personally, I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m trying to read — I end up splitting my attention between the lyrics of the song and the book I’m reading. I sometimes listen to instrumental music while I read, but even that is often a distraction for me.

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