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Transects Evolit Final Paper

Gavia's picture

Final Project: Comparison

      I noticed partway through this course that the concept of storytelling has actually been use in a number of the courses I have taken so for, though it has been presented in different ways and for different purposes.  I have had the experience of three separate professors in three different disciplines give me a very similar assignment.  I found that, when I looked at these pieces in conjunction with this course that they seemed much more connected than I thought they were, I was able to trace some of my own academic development through them, and the styles I used to present them clearly showed how each class biased my presentation.
      My high school English professor gave us an assignment called a Transect, in which we were supposed to walk a portion outside of our home and describe what we found at each step. 

[English Transect]

      Throughout this transect I found that I was mainly paying attention to the plant life that I encountered along my walk, noting the species, density, form, and location of the main flora that I past. I also based the structure of the narrative solely on my physical path through the forest, and noted things as they went through my mind. I used a sort of stream of consciousness style of writing, as opposed to a thought out tour though the forest behind my home.  I use sense adjectives (texture, smell, especially color) when describing the things around me, and I rarely use sound to communicate any aspect of something I’ve come across. I do occasionally wander off topic and follow a string of memory rather than the physical path I am walking, however the memories, though they are displaced in time, are actually physically at the same point in the pathway that I am walking. I do not at any point in the narrative attempt to more forward in time as well as backward, I discuss only the present and the past. I found this interesting as during this time during my writing I had a good deal of trouble keeping my narrative in one tense (I recall using six different tenses, unintentionally, during a 500 word short fiction piece). Apparently the physical track I was walking was useful in focusing my own narrative and limiting the wandering prose I normally used.
      In my senior year of high school our art professor assigned a similar project with some different constraints. I needed to find one small thing and track it for 20 minutes, drawing it at regular intervals, and noting what about it changed over the time period.
[Art Transect]
      For this transect I chose to watch a single leaf on a tree in the wind.  I decided to draw the leaf five times over the 20 minutes and noted how its shape changed and its position changed over the time period. I didn’t realize how I seem to focus on plants if given no subject matter constraints; I hadn’t realized I default to them so regularly.  I use a loose and flowing style of sketching and have given absolutely no thought to the context of the leaf, it is not even attached to a twig, and there is nothing behind it in the sketches. I do note that the leaf is moving in the wind, and detail how the wind affects the shape of the leaf and, in the final drawing, note that it has begun raining and finally give some shape and context around the leaf in the form of the rain.  
      The final transect I was assigned was for a course on writing in a scientific context, we were not given any particular constraints except that we had to move through something, be it a space or a timeframe or an abstract idea. I, surprisingly, chose again to deal with plants in my work.
      [Science Transect]
      Through this transect I moved from one side of my windowsill to the other, however I don’t actually give any context for where this window is in the piece. I describe the various plants I encounter, and give a sketch of each plant I saw. I noted how they were planted, where they were in the window, their size and how much light they needed. I recorded the time and temperature at the start of the assignment, which I did not do for any of the other pieces and seems to be influenced by writing laboratory reports.  In this transect I was much more precise in my descriptions of the plants, and much more focused on those plants that I was in the English transect, for example. While I don’t write in a smooth narrative for this transect I introduce each plant and provide a labeled picture before moving on to the next. I found it very interesting that even though there is no outside narrative in this transect a sort of story can still be interpreted from the record.