Tag Archives: E-Lit Assignments

A New Literacy: Inanimate Alice

            Of the two pieces of e-lit this week, I have to admit I loved Digital, A Love Story. I haven’t finished the story yet, so I am not sure how it ends, but I really enjoyed the mystery of it and the format of it being transported back in time to an 80’s interface. One thing that quickly got old though was getting so many messages and emails – it was a little too much like real life. So though I felt a little burnt out by the time I stopped, it was still a neat format to create multiple storylines at once. All of that said, I am not going to write on Digital (at least directly), I want to instead look at Inanimate Alice.

            Unlike Digital, I wasn’t super into Alice. Not that it wasn’t also mysterious and intriguing, it just felt kind of tedious. As I was moving through the game, following a disembodied arm and ghost boy through a warehouse I was trying to escape from, I found myself asking once again, is this really literature? There were literary elements to it like the narration and plot, but the piece felt more like a game with pretty pictures and simplistic dialogue. The story is from a 14 year old girl’s perspective and it sounds like a 14 year old is writing it – which made it feel a little too young for me. When I reached the end I felt like I was missing something about the piece that made it special, so I decided to do some digging to see what I could find about it.

            As I dug into the creators behind Inanimate Alice, I discovered an article called “The Compelling Nature of Transmedia Storytelling: Empowering the Twenty First-Century Readers and Writers Through Multimodality”. The article uses Inanimate Alice to discuss and research the changing understanding of literacy that has been brought about by our digital age. Initially, when I read the article, I was taken aback at the idea that literacy was something beyond simply reading. I know about other forms of literacy, but in my mind they seemed to be distinct from each other, with some overlap here and there. As I continued to read, I discovered that there is a movement in education to teach students how to read and write in new ways that align better with this digital age we live in. According to the authors, their idea of literacy now, “…is increasingly recognized as a social practice, a perspective which draws on the idea that literacy is a human activity shaped by tools unique to the community in which it is practiced” (Hovious, Harlow Shinas, Harper par.7). This means that because our society uses so many different forms of creation and communication, literacy extends to just about every sense of the body – sight, smell, touch, hearing, etc (par.7). The authors throw around the words “multimodality” and “transmedia” to describe the literacy that is needed in classrooms to engage the students of today (par. 9). These days, students have to not only being able to read, but be interpreters and co-creators; not only this, but the tools they use to do this are more than just the paper and pen. The tools of the literate student today can encompass film, photographs, sounds, coding, etc (par. 9). The reason why Inanimate Alice is special is because it is one of the main pieces of electronic literature that is being used right now as a way for teachers to start teaching this new version of literacy.

            When I began to look at Alice through the lens of it being part of a new type of literacy, not just literature, it seemed astounding. Up to this point, e-lit has seemed like an avant-garde art form that has its niche, but I didn’t see its application beyond the e-lit world. What Alice and this article did for me was connect e-lit to what I have been exploring in ENG5020 – the idea that the old ways of creating, writing, reading, consuming, etc. are over. At this point, everything has to be processed through the lens of what the writers of the article described above as “a social practice.” Because our world has become so intricately interconnected through technology and the internet, everything we do is on a social level. When we log in and post something, look something up, or share something, we are being active participants in a larger collaborative meaning making society that literally encompasses the world. What is interesting about Inanimate Alice, is if you look on the website, it is used all over the world to teach students this new “transmedia” literacy that is now needed.  

From the website inanimatealice.com – A map of where Inanimate Alice has been taught or used for research purposes around the world.

The article that I found is a great window into this new world and though I was left with a lot of confusion and questions after reading it, I was excited to understand how e-lit connects to the bigger picture of our role as writers in society. Inanimate Alice, on the surface, at first didn’t seem like anything exciting. But after reading about the implications it has for students learning new a literacy, I am intrigued and excited by the possibilities it offers for the future.

Works Cited

Alice’s Map. Inanimate Alice, 2020, https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1-8EPgaFNDi8rw9GaS0n6gToEvFo&ll=21.373813254507102%2C-35.859375&z=2. Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Hovias, Amanda, Harlow Shinas, Valarie, Harper, Ian. “The Compelling Nature of Transmedia Storytelling: Empowering twenty-first century readers and writers through multimodality.” Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 11 March 2020, paras. 1-52.

Shades and Tones of the Same Book: Thoughts on “Pieces of Herself”

            Part of Nives’ presentation that stood out to me last week was the fact that she incorporated the people behind her e-lit piece, Window , into her walk-through. This added a layer of depth and meaning that made the material come alive in a different way than I had experienced up to this point. As I interacted with the assigned pieces this week, I decided to try this approach and see if it could help give me a deeper experience. I wasn’t disappointed with the results, though I still found myself bewildered by the amount of jargon in this field that I am still not familiar with.

            My focus this week was on Juliet Davis’ Pieces of Herself. In her article “Fractured Cybertales: Navigating the Feminine” we learn that Davis has a background in advertising and that as she moved into feminist art and web media design, her past experience with the use of “visual and verbal rhetoric” (27) in targeting an audience gave her an interesting approach to her art. Her background can be seen in the design of Pieces of Herself as it simulates the common interface that is used with games that allow young women to drag-and-drop clothing onto a virtual mannequin (29). Davis uses this particular interface in order to critique the messages sent to women and in the process sends her own anti-messages (so to speak) to her ‘consumers’. The set up of Pieces of Herself creates an experience where the consumer is eased into a familiar process of dressing up a doll-like figure only to discover that the ‘materials’ they are having to use are at once strange and all too familiar. As we drag-and-drop symbols onto the doll-body, we are exposed to sounds and pieces of dialogue expressing concerns about body image, responsibilities to others, the desire to be wanted, expectations of how women are to act in the work place, etc. Davis describes this process as a “subversive experience”(27) where the consumer is being forced to consider how they are impacted by the environment they have been steeped in and the messages that have formed their identity. Her anti-message calls attention to the seemingly innocuous platforms and interfaces we use regularly and what messages they are reinforcing every time we interact with them.

            I had none of these things in mind when I initially interacted with this piece. When I was a little girl, I wasn’t one to play with the kind of interface that is being recreated in this work, but I was familiar with the messages that I heard as I dropped random objects onto the body of the doll. One thing that was unnerving as I interacted with this piece was how the sounds I placed on the body would either be repetitive or overlap with each other. This cacophony of messages and stimuli felt disorienting and made it hard to concentrate on enjoying my interaction with the work. After I read Davis’ article, I saw this annoying experience as not just a feature of navigation, but a way of using navigation to create further commentary on what the piece is getting at. As women we are sent messages our whole life that contradict and interfere with each other, causing a chaotic inner experience that makes it difficult to function at times and steals our joy. As a woman who doesn’t identify with many of these societal concepts of womanhood, I have often felt the burden of trying to figure out how to be female in a world where few of the models of femininity resonated with me. What is even more frustrating, and adds to my own inner noise, is trying to block out the noise of others who try to decide for me where I should fit in the societal view of womanhood.

            This attempt to find where I fit and to fight against where others try to make me fit is not a unique experience to me or to women in general; most of us in our humanness are trying to figure out where we fit. The messages about who we should be in light of what ‘society’ determines is best are all around us. Davis’ piece is one more message in the mix, but in amplifying the messages that she is critiquing she creates a space to cathartically practice cutting off the noise. I found that when I got too overwhelmed with the interaction of sounds, I would just start over and turn off the volume until I knew everything was quiet again. This ability to have agency over how much I listened to the messages within the piece opened up a space in me to consider how I might start doing this in real life. I don’t think it is possible to get away completely from these toxic messages and their influences, but I think it is possible to start recognizing where they come from and find ways to turn them down or off completely.

            Though unassuming at first glance, Davis’ piece is deeply moving, which makes it quite fitting for the subject matter she is critiquing. I found it interesting that though there were very few physical words to read, there were plenty of mental narratives that automatically played in my mind at the sight, sound, or experience of the objects I would place in the doll. I wonder if we all were to write the words that come to mind in response to this piece, if we’d find we have  all written the same book, just in different shades and tones – and what power would lie in working together to write something new.   

Works Cited

Davis, Juliet. “Fractured Cybertales: Navigating the Feminine.” The MIT Press Journals, vol. 4, no. 1, 2008, pp. 26-34.

Davis, Juliet. Pieces of Herself. Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 2, https://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/davis_pieces/index.html. Accessed 13 October, 2020.

Ask Me for the Moon: The Beginnings of Inspiration

Poetry is the form of literature that I struggle with the most. The metaphorical nature of it allows for so much ambiguity and misunderstanding that it is frightening to even try to think about explaining a piece for fear of missing the point. Ironically, poetry is also the main form of literature that I feel naturally compelled to use to express experiences and emotions that feel too important to say in ordinary terms. The muddling nature of imagery that attempts to express intangible ideas has a beauty and emotion that the ideas themselves may not hold naturally. Poetry has a way of packaging things in a subversively visceral way, so that even those who may normally turn a blind eye when presented with difficult subjects in an informational way (e.g. minority experiences, political turmoil, environmental issues) can’t help but attend. We don’t have to look far to see the rhetorical power of poetry as social commentary, as it is evident in the works of some of our most popular poets – Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde, etc. I mention all of this because as I went through the e-poetry piece, Ask Me for the Moon, I found myself captured by the imagery of the piece (both literally and figuratively) and moved by some underlying feeling that something was very wrong. The themes of social injustice, neocolonialism, and environmental destruction were not ones that I was overly familiar with on an intellectual level, but as I moved through the piece, I could sense them on an emotional level.

I went through this piece at least three different times over the last month, and it took that long for me to actually grasp that something way over my head was happening. When I initially looked into the piece, I payed attention to the night images, the sounds of breathing that play over the pictures, and the movement of the words as they overlap and disappear. The second and third time, I tried to read through all of the initial descriptions and notes to get a better understanding of what the purpose of the poem is before I interacted with it again. After doing the technical reading, I was able to pay more attention to the words that were being used and the imagery they created in my mind.   

The initial imagery that struck me was the constant presence of the moon in this piece. When I think of the moon, it often invokes a sense of longing and love – “Blue moon, you saw me standing alone…”, “Because I’m still in love with you, on this harvest moon…”, “I’m just the words, looking for the tune, reaching for the moon and you.” So, before I really looked into the poem, I thought it might be about love or a lost love. And as the beginning screen played, it felt like it was headed that way. We are invited to step out with the poet to look at the moon, not unlike the beginning of most songs or poems about moonlit love, but the purpose of our midnight reminiscences shifts quickly. “Reef of spent muscle, secretion of hope and work…” dashes the delicate imagery we have been lulled into, and any sign of romanticism officially disappears with the continued description of our night view being filled with the lights of “palisades of purchased love.” This wasn’t as shocking the second time around because I read what the poem is supposed to be about, but I was still left with a shock at the moonlight shining not on a lonely lover, but on the darkness where truths reveal themselves in the forms of night workers “secreting sweat” as they clean and rakes upon beach sand, the tools of a cover up scheme that are slowly destroying the environment.

I think if you have experienced any kind of service related work – be it in a hotel, restaurant, bar, kitchen, golf course, etc. – you immediately recognize the spirit of some of what is being revealed here. Behind the veneer of the nicely made bed, the well-manicured lawn, and the perfectly laid plate, there is grease, fluids, machines, smells, and all sorts of human conditions that in the light of day cause grimaces and hushed whispers. These are the ingredients for creating luxury; it is appalling , but it also has a kind of sick charm. (Look no further than Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential about his life in the kitchen and you will find yourself revolted and yet strangely attracted to the chef life). But this poem is not just about the ups and downs and injustices of the service industry. I didn’t fully comprehend the deeper themes of oppression until I hit the first of several philosophical quotes that Zuern inserts throughout the poem.

As soon as the words “the state of verb, to the state of thing” and “deposition” appeared in the poem, I knew there was something beyond the confusion of poetic metaphor going on that I wasn’t understanding. When the page with the quote from Emmanuel Levinas’ Ethics and Infinity popped up, the poem shifted from airy imagery to weighted historical and philosophical undertones. Reading the philosophical blurb that was connected to the poem put the confusion I had about the poem to shame – I had no idea what it meant. Reading back through the description of the work, I noticed that Zuern (2005) calls this work “Poetry-as-scholarship.” His goal was to use the poem to highlight certain philosophical literary pieces by threading their imagery throughout the body of the poem. After the reader experiences them in the poem, they are taken to another page where they see the imagery in the context of the original philosophical piece. Though I struggled to understand the philosophy behind the imagery, I felt this technique was brilliant. It isn’t new for poets to refer to ideas with passing words and imagery in their works, but to be able to integrate the original sources into the actual piece is something that is unique to Ask Me For the Moon.

The ability to integrate something that is serving as a reference in a poem is a feature of e-lit that highlights the many possibilities it brings to traditional forms of literature. The multilayered nature of e-lit shows once again how a piece that is already rich in meaning can become even deeper, in both a literary and practical sense. The depth that coding and creating hyperlinks, as well as involving movement, sound, and imagery, bring to our experience with e-lit is truly groundbreaking. It was this depth and navigational aspect of the poem that made this piece one of my favorite elit pieces we have gone through thus far. The depth and layered nature of Ask Me for the Moon creates so many ways to experience its meaning. On the most surface level, I can read the poem by itself and get an emotional sense of the unjust conditions and history that Zuern is highlighting. On a basic understanding level, I can go into a side part of the poem (where it says ‘Notes’) and find a description from Zuern that gives me the historical and political context in which his poem was created. But at the deepest point of understanding, Zuern has created a way for the reader to explore the philosophy of his piece through integratiing the actual philosophical pieces in the poem.               

Do I understand this piece? No. I can explain elements of it, but I don’t understand the full scale of what everything means. Did that take away from my ability to enjoy the poem and appreciate the methods used? Not at all. This piece highlights exactly the dynamic I spoke of at the beginning of this blog post about poetry bringing attention to social injustice issues that are overlooked. I knew some about the history of Hawaii and the oppression forced on it by the United States and other countries, but I didn’t feel the depth of it until I experienced it through the eyes of Zuern’s poem. Taking all the different elements of this poem together, I found that this piece of elit is probably the most inspirational for me in terms of the kind of elit I would want to create. Through this poem, I have found the beginnings of inspiration.

References

Zuern, J.D. (2005). Ask Me for the Moon. Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 3. https://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=ask-me-for-the-moon

Songs – Blue Moon, Harvest Moon, and Reaching for The Moon

Meaning and Structure in BOTS

When I initially started looking through the different bots, I didn’t feel like there was anything especially literary or special about them. A bot that is basically a teenage boy spurting out nonsensical euphemisms for sex acts? Anthropomorphizing a lost buoy out at sea by giving it the voice of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick? Creating weird formations that are interpreted as constellations? What is this and why is it literature? As I contemplated this, the two things I focused in on the most were the meanings found in the text and the creation of the structure of the pieces.

Though I knew coding was involved with the bots creative process, Iwas still under the misconception that there was little structure in the way they were creating ‘literature.’ “So the bot gets lucky and creates things with some syntactic structure and vague semantic significance,” I thought. “A monkey throwing slips of paper with poetic lines in the air could do the same thing.” But when I looked deeper, I saw that the process was quite a bit more advanced than that of said hypothetical monkey.

The key to getting a better understanding of this was when I discovered the word ‘Oulipo’ in connection to a few of the bots. Poetryfoundation.org defines it this way:

“An acronym for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Literature), a group of writers and mathematicians formed in France in 1960 by poet Raymond Queneau and mathematician François Le Lionnais. Unlike the Dada and surrealist movements, OuLiPo rejects spontaneous chance and the subconscious as sources of literary creativity. Instead, the group emphasizes systematic, self-restricting means of making texts.” (n.d.)

In light of this definition, I could see that the literary process of the bots is a result of a systematic formula, i.e. code. So, though random in combinations, the products are still contained within an organized structure; @_LostBuoy_ can only combine it’s weather data and lines from Moby Dick to create; @poem_exe can only draw from A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems and create something that has some kind of reference to the seasons. To me this makes the process seem slightly more literary because there is a method to the madness. The bots are programed to create work that is somewhat syntactic in nature so that we can identify their products as ‘poem’ or even just ‘sentence’. But, as I am learning in Linguistics, syntax doesn’t always mean semantics. We can have a perfectly syntactic sentence that means absolutely nothing. We can ALSO find semantic significance in a sentence that is ungrammatical, which bodes well for some of the nonsense these bots create (I’m looking at you ROM TXT). But, for something to be considered literature, it needs to have some level of semantics to go with syntax – the bots have structure, but do they create meaning?

Thinking about meaning was the most intriguing part of going through BOTS for me. I felt like the nature of the bots’ literary productions creates so many questions around meaning – what happens when you take something that was intended to mean one thing, and put it in a context that completely changes that meaning? Can the result of randomness really be called meaningful? Who is the meaning maker – the bot or the reader? In the midst of this questioning, I discovered a term in poem.exe creator Liam Cooke’s description that was fascinating to me both on a psychological level and on a literary level: ‘apophenia.’

After a quick read through in Wikipedia (2020, September 20), I learned that apophenia is basically when we connect things that are unrelated and drawing errant meanings from said connections. The distinguishing feature of apophenia is that the meaning and connections are not actually related in the way we believe they are; in other words, we are literally being delusional. And on every practical level, there IS a delusional feeling to the bots’ strange mash ups and the meaning we seem to draw from their random connections. Take the how 2 sext bot.

What do sexting and the wiki articles have to do with each other? Outside of there probably being a wiki article on how to sext, nothing. Sexting has its own contextual meaning and wiki articles have theirs; not only that, the two have totally different audiences and purposes in mind! So, what does that say about the nature of meaning when we take the wiki articles and place them into the context of sexting, transforming their original intention and meaning?

I don’t have an answer to that yet, but I am excited to be left with such big questions – especially from something as silly and strange as a Twitter bot.

I started my exploration of BOTS with very low expectations. In fact, I had a difficult time understanding how it was e-lit in some ways because it didn’t feel literary or as if I was really navigating in anyway, I was more of a passive observer. But as I came to understand the generative nature of bots, and saw the underlying questions they stir up about meaning and creation, I found this to be yet another enriching e-lit experience. I am coming away from this piece with a more technical understanding of e-lit and it makes me excited to continue to see other pieces and how they might shed light on the questions this one created for me.

References

Apophenia. (2020, September 20). in Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia

Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 3. (2016, February). BOTS. https://collection.eliterature.org/3/collection-bots.html

Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Glossary of Poetic Terms: Oulipo. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/oulipo

Blog 2

Ponderings on Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue

Near the end of Pressman’s (“Navigating Electronic Literature,” n.d.) essay, she states, “…emergent forms of electronic literature complicate the ways in which we think about and engage with literature” (para. 12). Almost every piece I have experienced thus far in this field has left me with the sense I’ve entered into a psychedelic tinged world, where time and meaning are vague concepts and everything is about experiencing and feeling. This is not altogether unpleasant. The nature of literature IS to be a gateway into a kind of timelessness that is all about experience.

That said, I agree with Pressman that electronic literature is complicated to engage with. It makes me feel uncomfortable. When I read, I like my role as observer on a familiar path where words, plots, and characters line up before me in neat, curated lanes. A piece like Joyce’s (1996) Twelve Blue does not fit well into this framework; I can not stroll down the linear path. Instead, I am like a bagger at the grocery, characters and lines being conveyed to me in wild and unorganized ways while I try to quickly form it all into a meaningful package. Before reading Twelve Blue, and a few other pieces like it, I did not know that I was such a boring and linear reader. As I engaged with Twelve Blue for the assigned hour (a strangely devotional way of reading, reminiscent of my days of diligent Bible study growing up – maybe a topic for a future post), there were several ideas that came to mind.

What initially struck me was how overwhelming the piece felt to read. The power of navigation being in my hands (the act of “producing” and “performing”, as Pressman (“Navigating Electronic Literature,” n.d., para. 12) puts it) was a burden. My process began a little like this:

Me: Ah, it begins with numbers.

Anxiety: How do I know what number I should pick first?

Me: Never go for 1… 4 is a solid middle choice.

Anxiety: Oh, no…but what if I was supposed to actually start at 1 and now I have messed it all up?

Me: Do you think I should go back?

Anxiety: [continues to worry about going back to number 1]

Me: Oh well, I am already reading…

“She looked out on the creek and measured out the threads…” (Joyce, 1996).

After I read the first ‘page’, I felt a little of the initial burden ease because curiosity grabbed me. I weaved in and out of a story that seemed to be about loneliness and longing in the lives of two doctors with teenage children; in the background, a deaf man’s death was threaded into each of their stories – “zeppelin dolphin” (Joyce, 1996). In the end, I found my way back to the woman by the creek, her ponderings now more meaningful, but still lacking any kind of conclusion to the story. The burden came back, and I felt anxious. I hadn’t navigated enough to understand – did the two doctors get together? How did the boy drown? Who was the little girl by the sea who “thought sperm was a shore” where she might be able to find her dead mother? Had I failed in my engagement of the author’s text, navigating in a way that didn’t capture what the author intended me to understand? Or was that the point – I was supposed to experience it in the way I experienced it, and that was okay?

Of course, I know from Pressman’s article that I engaged the piece in the way it was meant to be read; my haphazard navigation was part of the meaning making experience of the story. That said, to return to the idea of my “boring” and “linear” way of reading, I found myself thinking about the concept of what makes a story. Pressman addressed how electronic literature challenges the typical structure of story in her article, specifically when she quoted Jay David Bolter. Bolter (as cited in Pressman, “Navigating Electronic Literature,” n.d.) basically says story in hypertext isn’t just a one and done kind of thing. With each reading, what we experience varies and changes, and because of this, the reader could actually question if there is a story to be found at all!

The idea that something that calls itself literature might not even have a ‘story’ once again challenged my ideas around literature. I don’t think that Twelve Blue is without a story, but it is without traditional structure – and after spending the summer reading through The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop (Koch, 2003), this seems sacrilegious! In Koch’s words, “Good structure clarifies” (p.71). I would say Twelve Blue is anything but clear in it’s structure. But in this murky ‘story’ there is something more true to story telling than I think the traditional structure is fully capable of capturing. Twelve Blue feels like living, and what is life but one long story full of incongruities. What I mean by this is the imagery drew me into brief emotional experiences, not unlike the moments of life. Even if the scene’s context was confusing and didn’t seem to fit in the larger picture, there was something about the way I felt that made it okay if I just wanted to take it as it was or try to find more of the story. That feels like the way humans live in their stories. Sometimes they chase a plot to it’s end, but sometimes they let it drift off.

There is something completely chaotic to this whole process of electronic literature. Letting people author with you, having stories that may not actually be stories, never having people experience your piece in the same way, letting navigation dictate meaning, etc. But in that chaos is a type of freedom that I’m finding I am drawn to. Often the writing I have produced has been spurts of images and people and stories, but it never felt story-like in the traditional sense. Experiencing Twelve Blue and learning more about the theories behind electronic literature in Pressman’s article gives me the creative spark that comes when I recognize a path through the marsh of doubt I’ve been mired in around my writing. Maybe it is time to leave my linear ways behind – at least just a little.

References

Bolter, J.D. (1991). Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Joyce, M. (1996). Twelve Blue. Postmodern Culture and Eastgate Systems. https://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/joyce__twelve_blue.html

Koch, S. (2003). The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. The Modern Library.

Pressman, J. (n.d.). Navigating Electronic Literature. Electronic Literature: New Horizons For the Literary. https://newhorizons.eliterature.org/essay.php@id=14.html

Blog Post 1: Introductions

“Why am I at Kean?” An existential question if I ever saw one. But let’s talk rhetorical for now, because that is much more straight forward.

My background is in psychology, but in a BA way, no BS. I went into the field for a number of reasons:

 1) because it seemed the most ‘practical’ subject I could pursue that would satisfy the expectation that I get a degree that would translate practically into a job.

2) because I genuinely wanted to help people struggling with their mental health.

3) because I felt afraid to pursue my creative interests in a serious way, but psychology felt mysterious and creative enough to fill some of that need.

Unfortunately, after a semester in my program I realized being a mental health provider was not a good fit for me. I let things get to me too much, and I didn’t feel I would be able to manage the impact of other’s trauma on me in a sustainable enough way. Thankfully, my education still created a lot of opportunity for me to explore my creative side. In the end, I went through my undergrad experience as a psychology major in name but a writing and philosophy major in spirit.

Since graduating in 2014, I have worked in the ‘real’ world in higher education and, most recently, in mental health. In that time, I confirmed my undergrad concerns about my ability to manage the impact of secondary trauma on my mental health. But I also solidified that I have a desire to combine my passion for helping others with my creative pursuits and interest in the technical side of writing.

So that is why I am here. I love the combination of the creative and technical that the English-Writing Studies program offers, and I hope to refresh and strengthen my skills in writing so I can help others. My time in mental health instilled in me the value of community support from colleagues, so I also look forward to forming relationships and learning from others who are pursuing creative endeavors.

I felt the need to focus this introduction more on why I am here at Kean than on random facts about myself because I have written a little about myself already in the About section of this blog. If you would like to learn more, go check it out. 😊