This semester I did an individual study focusing on creative writing and design in our digital age. I researched and worked with Dr. Blevins on the writing process, invention techniques, and publication, among other topics. I worked on taking my original pieces of writing and poetry and transforming them to a digital design using Adobe Illustrator. I posted these graphics on a public Instagram account to share my writing. In this presentation, I outline some of the most valuable lessons from my research and showcase a few of my digital designs.
As my honors capstone and a culminating course for the English major, I have completed an individual study on the theme of grace and how it relates to the American experience in Marilynne Robinson’s work, specifically her three books Gilead (2004), Home (2008), and Lila (2014). The books are about the families of John Ames and Robert Boughton, who are preachers and lifelong friends living in the fictional small town of Gilead, Iowa in the 1950s. Through the books, Robinson presents her view on modern American Christianity, placing it in the context of American religious movements such as Transcendentalism, Puritanism, and especially Calvinism. I spent the semester reading many of Robinson’s essays, many of which focus on religion, grace, American history and politics, and Calvinism, as well as outside sources on American religious history, scholarly criticism of Robinson’s fiction, and interviews with Robinson. From my interactions with these readings, I have concluded that Robinson argues that the grace that comes out of American Christianity is synonymous with generous discourse and a generosity of spirit. She feels that this form of grace is becoming increasingly lost, or perhaps silenced, in American culture, especially since the mid-20th century when her books are set. Through her characters–John Ames, Jack Boughton, and especially, I will argue, Lila Ames–Robinson presents a display of the way this generosity of spirit should intersect with faith and democracy in our nation.
More often than not, violations of digital ethics stem from a lack of education/ awareness and not malicious intent. If secondary education institutions were to implement emerging technologies in their programs, students would learn the ethical boundaries of these consumables before they purchased them on their own. This project serves to determine the biggest struggles that higher education institutions face when trying to implement new technologies.
Virtual reality technology has grown in popularity due to increased industry production and innovation. However, the creation of quality content to run on these systems has lagged behind in comparison to the design of the physical equipment required to access virtual environments. How does one go about designing quality VR content? Originally created as instructional material for students in Brenta Blevins’ DGST 301E class, this infographic walks readers through the brainstorming and storyboarding process of creating virtual reality projects. This guide is useful for a wide audience of content creators as they take inspiration from other content mediums, think spatially, and consider the accessibility of their final products.
Virtual reality is recognized as an immersive technology that separates its user from their current, fixed reality. VR is still very young. The shoes that it is expected to fill are waiting patiently in the future, knowing its potential has yet to be reached. The VR concept that I introduce with my project, fills these metaphorical shoes. The user is not aware of a heavy headset weighing down on their face. Instead, they are projected into darkness, and expected to quickly adapt. I present, through photographs that I have taken and edited, a void, much like the black dreamscape in Stranger Things. Through this digital project, I want to introduce a concept that would remove bias of artificial intelligence in an unanticipated manner. The user believes that they will be playing an advanced version of the Turing test in a virtual environment, but come to face a deeper truth inside of themselves. In other words, the game starts simply, and ends with a lesson. As Turing suggests, aren’t we also machines of a similar nature? Flesh and bone rather than wires and circuitry? Instead of holding a pessimistic viewpoint that is spiteful towards the presence of AI in our future, we should attempt to open our eyes to the coexistence of man and machine as well as the bond that we could share. It is okay to acknowledge with some fear, and an even greater hope, that we are different from one another, yet so entirely the same.
This individual study was designed to help me come to a better understanding of the publishing industry and how a writer bridges the gap between writing and publication, between a hobby and a profession. Creatively, my goal was to revise, develop, and polish a novella rooted in ENGL 470B, fiction seminar. Professionally, I learned and implemented the process of producing, preparing, and sending out original creative work to literary magazines for publication. The outcomes of the project included a significantly revised fantasy novella, a series of cover letters, a strong and flexible understanding of the literary marketplace, and completed submissions for several literary magazines. During the project I submitted to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, and Driftwood Press. This project built on what I have learned throughout my time at UMW, particularly my creative writing classes; but more than that, this project has been the beginning of the rest of my career as a writer.