Reflection Six – Midterm

 

While we have studied a number of different writing styles over the semester, the three we have focused on cumulated in the history assignment, the interview study, and the quantitative research report, all of which attempted to help us shape New York City while honing our writing skills. The purposes of the projects had varied, but the idea of seeing New York through our own eyes was powerful and the main point. While at the beginning of the semester I was a little skeptical of the time frame, the semester has challenged me enough to realize that I am a strong enough writer to keep up with the course load, all while learning what shapes my very own New York City.

For my history assignment, I decided to extrapolate on the significance of the Macy’s standing proudly on 34th street. While the purpose of my topic was a little ambiguous, it was important for me to convey that while it was just a department store, it would be an insult to the history of the story to truly consider it to be just a department store. I felt a little strange when explaining my topic – one of the girls chose to write her assignment on the Crown Heights Riots, and I felt silly toting my chosen department store as something to be proud of. Even so, I was very happy with the way my live experience came out, because I was a little uncertain of exactly what the assignment had asked of me. The guidelines were flexible to the point of being equivocal and I had eventually decided that my “page length” would be twice as much as my classmates, because I would probably be able to get the message across in six pages instead of three. I didn’t really have much of an audience – I couldn’t tell if I was writing to the teachers, the students, or a Macy’s enthusiast. I eventually settled on my audience being a faceless reader with a desire to learn more and access to the blog that I had put together. I wanted to keep this reader interested, which is why I spent the most time on the “story-telling” aspect of it. If I was the faceless reader, I would enjoy that section the most, as well.

My quantitative data analysis project was a combination of conducting our own experiment, and gathering the data to do so. The genre of this assignment fell under a scientific-esque project, because of the way we had to analyze our data and follow through with the experiment, as well as form a decent hypothesis and be content with the fact that our “conclusion” had to stem from more than “my hypothesis was correct because…”. This project better helped to explain the concept of genres to me, genre refers to things that are regularly done (while style is a regular way of doing things, which was not necessary or needed in a project such as this one). We had taken on the idea of confrontation with students, if they were put in a situation where they were made to feel uncomfortable. The situation we chose was sitting too closely to someone, thereby breaking the barriers of the six-inch buffer that follows every New Yorker, acting as a defense mechanism and a source of comfort. While I had assumed there would be light confrontation, I didn’t think the arguments that ensued would be as heady as they were. Even so, before the experiment began, I was excited to take on the prospect of harming the status quo, because I am forever fascinated by the behaviors of other people. The design of our project was modeled perfectly after something straight out of Stanley Milgram’s brain. We created an introduction, a procedure, results, and a “discussion”, which served as our conclusion and analysis. My stance was that if we sat too closely to John Jay students, then they would react in some way that could be recorded on a scale. I was not prepared for how violently they would react, but the informative assignment gave the confrontation a no-nonsense examination, rather than a story like the history assignment might have. It seemed much less frightening when reading it off a page, instead of being there in the thick of it.

Finally, I am excited to begin to conduct research for the interview project. We have been individually assigned to answer a research question (that we had all independently picked), and now we have been told to interview at least three people who can give us their opinion and other information in response to our research topic. It will be interesting to see how one of the interviewed subjects’ stance affects their answers, but more than that, I am eager to understand how my questions could frame the interview, because my stance will also be a bit biased, whether I want it to be or not. The data from the interviews will be used to collectively respond to the initial question. This project is similar to the history project because it requires a bit of real-time storytelling, but it’s more like the quantitative data analysis project because of the perspectives of other people, as well as the conclusion at the end, that will use data and analysis to reach a point. I am exploring the idea of feminism in New York City, a topic which will be subtle in nature but (I am hoping) powerful to those that read it. I will interview both men and women, but I am hoping to take from more “neutral” parties and different age groups, as well. I have decided to further the ideas of intersectionality and binary opposition, two terms that may not seem very “hot-button” at first glance, but I am sure will invoke the perfect amount of fire into someone’s otherwise standard view of the world.

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