When Your Grits are to Gritty: How Vulnerability is the New 21st strength

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The content parameters for this Project are wide open, as this project can be a “stand-alone” project — unrelated to any essay topic you choose for this course. Or you may choose to create a piece of “visual literacy” that you also incorporate in one or more of your essays for this class.

Essay #5 will also have some form of visual literacy integrated into it, but that chart, graph, map, etc. does not have to be MADE BY YOU. For this visual literacy project, you may certainly use the same TOPIC and even the same INFORMATION to shape your own self-made chart, graph, map, or infographic, etc. but it may be awkward to try to include a longer/ larger “self-made” infographic  into your essay #5. Again, the inclusion of visual literacy for Essay #5 does not have to be made by you, but this separate 75-point VISUAL LITERACY PROJECT must be your own creation, made BY YOU, and made from REAL FACTS, DATA, or INFORMATION, which you will cite separately on a Word Doc, as well as note in the “briefest” form, as the sample below does.

Again, you may start on this Visual Literacy Project any time you want, as almost any idea or topic  is “related” to our course on “happiness” and “the contemplative life” — and the rising and falling ‘forces’ that impact happiness and our  lives, as we discover in our assigned readings. You may even use DATA and Assist.org as well as college information websites like CollegeNavigator.com to assess your chances of transfer, funding, and success in your major, graduation, field, etc. (By the way, I have never before received such a personal “assessment” of future successes based on past socio-economic and historical forces that are currently measured by experts and data, but I can imagine quadrants or sections of an infographic that explore different aspects of a person’s life and then makes some claim at the end.) In short, I don’t mind if you use this project to explore any particular feature of your own life or your personal plans for happiness. By using data and then visualizing it in some “graphic” way, you increase your chances of meeting your professed goals, for you move from the more untethered position of “possibility” to the more grounded route of seeing the “probability” of meeting your goals.

Whether you use this Visual Literacy Project to explore your own goals or a particular interest, or you tie it to one of your essays for this class, or you choose a completely different topic altogether, this project should be a fun way to  enhance your insights into your topic as well as engage the reader in more dynamic and perhaps multi-sensory


Don’t just insert pictures. Also avoid handing in a simple “Pie chart” that is poorly labeled, etc. Finally,  any undocumented or false claims may be penalized.  For example, this past summer, one person put the U.S. population into the BILLIONS, when it is not anywhere near that level and is not expected to reach that level even by the start of the 22nd century! Another person greatly misrepresented what portion of the United States has union members in order to make a very simplistic claim about how “easy” it is to reach the American Dream. You don’t have to use MLA format for your citations, but provide links and names of the places where you got your information to make your chart (A simple list on a Word Doc will do). Also realize that if a “fact” seems crazy, I too can easily look it up myself. If students make me start “working” and “researching” on my own for THEIR projects, you can bet that some points will be docked for false or outrageous claims. So be careful how you “draw” the data!


Your Infographic can be a “stand-alone” assignment and does not have to connect to any other work for this class. But in case you want to use your especially created graphic work in an essay you write for this class, here is an example of how one former student could — if she wanted to — use her self-created Infographic (worth 50 points) in an Essay — for even Essay #1. Remember:  Essay #5 must use a piece of visual literacy that you can either create yourself or find on the Internet; that is, for that written essay, you don’t have to “create” that graph, chart, map, infographic, etc. yourself for that final essay. But this VISUAL LITERACY PROJECT MUST BE CREATED BY YOU (using a free app, such as Venngage, which was used for the infographic below).

So let’s explore how the student-writer who made this Infographic herself could now use  it for Essay #1(the “shift in perspective” essay) in this English 3 class:

Here below is an example of an Infographic an English 1 student made for a research-based argumentative essay she wrote for English 1. If this student wanted to, she could take this same infographic that she made, as well as some of her earlier research, to “shift our perspective” on what “environmentalism” is now; after all, “shifting a reader’s perspective” (or re-defining a familiar issue) is the general open-ended prompt for our English 3’s Essay 1. Here is how her line of reasoning might go as she adapts her earlier work to the fit the new requirement of “shifting a particular audience’s perspective”:

As activist Majora Carter argues in her popular TED Talk “Greening the Ghetto,” we can no longer see environmentalism as the work of individuals, states, communities, or nations, for we live in massively “interlinked” times (T. Friedman).

As Majora Carter defines “environmental justice” at about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the above-linked video, she suggests that no one group should bear more of the burdens of capitalistic production than its benefits (for the exact quotation, see below); since Majora Carter already said or implied that, the student-writer can’t only repeat it. She can — and should — quote her good words from the TED Talk, but she must somehow press on to “new information,” which means she can’t just repeat what scholars and others have already said, published, posted, etc. In other words, the “shift” in perspective must come from the work that the student-writer reveals.

SO: how  can we be “original,” while  also fulfilling all the essays’ requirements of using published, posted, and famous sources?

We make connections to “existing information” in interesting, compelling, and original ways!

Or we apply an author’s ideas to a new context!

Or we can come at an issue or problem from a new “discipline” or “angle”:

Instead of using only “environmental” or “science” sources, we can use “economic” sources, or “political” angles, or we can outline the “psychological” impulses that maybe work in the background or at the foundation of an issue or situation.

Such “interdisciplinary” approaches are KEY to how you will write Essay 2 and Essay 3, so you might as well start thinking about having an interdisciplinary approach, if you want, for Essay 1 (100 points) and even your Visual Literacy Project (50 points).

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