Final Semester Reflection

Final Semester Reflection

In my first two units of AP Lit, my greatest achievement has been the Dragon Notes video. I was able to collaborate with two other students to create a product that really reflects our work and understanding of the values within Lorrie Moore’s “You’re Ugly, Too.” The amount of time I spent editing the video ensured that the final product was my best product. In the past, I wasn’t the best at editing films, but I took on this challenge to see how much I’ve grown, and the result pleasantly surprised me!

Looking back through the feedback, I realise I still need to focus on honing my argumentation. I tend to take on multiple aspects all at once, sometimes biting off more than I can chew. This is especially obvious in my revised Q1 essay, where I shifted my focus on multiple characters in “The Great Gatsby” instead of just one. I need to work on diving deeper into one specific aspect of my choice and really fleshing it out. That will be the best way to improve my writing and argumentation.

When looking at my Sonny’s Blues Short Story Analysis, I identified a very interesting trend in my writing process: I spend a lot of time honing my first draft to make it as close to perfect as possible, and the final draft is more wording and grammatical tweaks than idea reorganisation. I tweak wording and make my language more concise, but most of the editing is done during the first drafting process. To improve my writing within the first draft, I re-read the story with my thesis in mind and picked out more relevant details to incorporate or replace tangential evidence. I then do a reverse outline to see how it matches up to my original outline and see how it compares. I will then tweak organisation until I feel that my piece flows well and doesn’t leave the reader confused at any point.

My Mastery data in Schoology shows that I’m at Meeting Expectations and Exceeding Expectations for all of the standards. In the ones that we have assessed, I’ve consistently achieved scores in the range of 75-100%.

One goal I have for Semester 2 is to develop a stricter daily reading schedule and stick to it. I promised myself to do it this semester, but college applications really got in the way. I hope to read more next semester and include not just material from the course but also a wide variety of books for pleasure. 

My first impression of AP Lit was, frankly, not very positive. Thomas Foster’s book gave me the impression that AP Lit was mostly about spinning something out of nothing in the most intricate, convoluted, and  unnecessary ways possible. But as we analysed poetry and short stories as a class, I started to appreciate the beauty of interpretation. I loved being able to take the same text that everyone else reads and apply my own experience and understanding to create something unique in my mind. AP Lit now seems like a fun class where I get to explore relevant themes and connect more with the human story. 

Unit 2 Essential Question Reflection

To what extent are stories also the human story, my story?

After reading many stories, I’ve come to realise that their most appealing aspect is their relatability. While I appreciate the author’s prose, imagery, and insight on historical and social situations, the underlying emotions truly connect me to the piece. All stories are part of the human story, and they’re also my story to a larger extent than people would imagine.

I believe that everything an author writes is reflective of both his experience and his perception of the human experience, regardless of  genre. For example, historical fiction can be written by someone who experienced the historical event firsthand or someone quite far removed but had conducted thorough research. A great example of the latter would be Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief.” His portrayal of Nazi Germany through a young girl’s eyes despite writing as a modern day Australian was so convincing many critics believe it deserves a place alongside Anne Frank’s diary. Both of these works contribute their voices to a particularly dark chapter of human story. Every author draws inspiration from the world around them, writing about their own experiences or offering their own perceptions of historical events and patterns. As a result, a bit of the human story is captured by every literary work. Even fantasy novels like Gulliver’s Travels reflect exploration and a pursuit of the mystical, a key aspect of the human story. No story can be completely independent of the human experience, and that’s why when I read any story, I feel connected to not only my ancestors, but the ancestors of the entire species. I experience stories as little time capsules, recognising the events the stories reflect shaped the world I live in today.

Some would say that it’s impossible to make stories about the atrocities of war and suffering “their story.” After all, in the relative comfort of our modern society, it feels disrespectful to say one can relate to the unspeakable terrors and fear experienced by those who lived through them. But I do believe every story could be “my story” without experiencing the extreme emotions. Every human is capable of experiencing the same set of emotions. It’s just the matter of degree: particularly difficult times of history elicit more extreme responses. But I’m sure everyone has experienced some degree of the core human emotions every story touches upon: pride, courage, love, guilt, fear, or pain, just to name a few. By saying we can relate to the emotions experienced by characters in a story, we aren’t by default downplaying them; we are in fact appreciating them and better understanding them through our own personal experiences. That’s why I’m convinced every story can also be my story; while the situations and contexts can be different, the underlying themes and lessons are relatable and valuable. That’s why I believe all stories are both a part of the human story and my story.