Emily Hollenberg 106 Newberry Hall Alma College

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Emily Hollenberg

106 Newberry Hall Alma College

Fifteenth, December, 2010
To: Leah Stahl

English Department, SAC 312B

Alma College

Alma MI, 48801

Re: My performance and progress in English 101.07
Dear Professor Stahl:
The three strong papers I submitted to my portfolio assuredly present my strongest writing. Each paper is unique. The definition essay on the word energy steps away from the five paragraph essay format, demonstrating my ability to write an essay with an argument in a different format that uses fragments and one word paragraphs for emphasis. The rhetorical analysis shows my ability to analyze a weak argument and exploit it; I was able to find the weak points in the argument and explain why they were weak and how they could be improved upon. The research paper, my third strong piece of writing, displays that I achieved the goals of the course. I was able to find legitimate sources, examine these sources, take information from these sources, and write a detailed paper using these sources and my own words to create an argument. My weakest paper, the etymology of the word energy, followed a basic five paragraph format. There was hardly any variance in sentence structure and diction. The paper had boring transitions and there was hardly any substance to the paper in general. The only thing interesting about the paper was how the word energy has adapted over time, and I failed to write it interestingly. I simply showed how the word evolved over time, not taking the time to consider how a reader would find the essay. Would they find it interesting and entertaining? The simple answer to this question is no.

Ideas and skills from the course that I find most important and would like to remember in the future would be the ability to find credible sources, and using logos, pathos, and ethos. This course taught me that finding sources is not just about perusing the library to find something that looks decent and flipping through the pages to try to find useful information. There is background work that must be done, terminology of the subject that must be recognized, and one must find the appropriate key words or risk searching fruitlessly through the Alma Library Catalogue. Also before entering this course I had only vaguely heard of logos pathos and ethos; I had absolutely no idea what they were and how they were used. Upon learning what they were, I was able to incorporate them into my writing and use them to make a rhetorically sound argument. I also learned how to use them equally; too much logos is tedious, too much pathos is emotionally manipulating, and if one does not have excellent ethos, the audience will not trust your position. These are very useful skills that I will need for the rest of my college career, and since I am an English minor and have a love of the English language, I will probably need them for the rest of my life.

The quality of my work in this course has varied. I almost consistently tried my best in writing. My three strongest pieces of writing (the rhetorical analysis, the definition essay, and the research paper) were very consistent in writing quality. I spent a long time researching and analyzing each of the sources used in the papers. I wrote my definition essay twice. The first time I wrote it in five paragraph essay format, reviewed it, and deleted it. The second time I wrote it a way that felt more natural to me and was different from standard essay format. I had at least two students review it outside of peer conferences. I also spent a lengthy amount of time on my rhetorical analysis. Instead of simply exploiting the argument’s flaws in my paper I tried to write about ways that the argument could be improved. My research paper I wrote quickly (seven pages in an hour), and I had three people review it. Once it had been reviewed I spent five hours revising it to make it the best it could possibly be. My weakest paper, however, I did not try hard on whatsoever. Because it was a minor paper I felt like it did not deserve the attention it needed. I wrote it hastily without truly considering the quality of my writing and turned it in simply to have it completed. This really hindered my definition essay and was one of the reasons why I strived to make it so satisfactory. Looking back, I would definitely have spent more time writing the etymology.

One of my goals, honestly, is to maintain everything I learned in this class. It is very easy, probably easier than I realize, to let everything I’ve learned simply slip through the cracks in my brain where I’ll never utilize it again. I am extremely worried that the skills I’ve learned, especially using logos pathos and ethos, will simply vanish. Once I find a way to maintain these skills, I will work on a way to improve them.

I feel like I have met the course goals. I have been able to use logos pathos and ethos equally and persuasively in my writing. I have learned how to find credible sources and how to analyze them accordingly, and I have definitely learned how to think critically through analyzing a weak argument in my rhetorical analysis paper. I feel like my writing has definitely improved and that I can make a rhetorically sound essay.
Emily Hollenberg

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