2012 Student Work Magazine

Graduate students

All work is © the student unless otherwise indicated.

Seven Like This

Mollie Boutell

"Seven Like This" is an ongoing writing project produced entirely on Facebook. One of the most intriguing things about this project, for me, is the notion of persona on Facebook. Everybody with a Facebook account crafts a persona for public view, whether they want to admit it or not. We choose stories, make comments, and tag ourselves in pictures to make ourselves look good (or witty, or smart, or whatever). This complicates the effort toward creating fictional characters with Facebook pages -- not only must the author develop the character, the author must develop the character's preferred persona (while still working toward a well-rounded character). I'd initially thought I'd develop the characters and bring them to Facebook fully formed, mostly through The Narrator's written "snapshots." I learned, however, that regular interaction between characters (especially the interactions between my characters and those created by others) makes that difficult (and not as much fun).

I struggled with letting go of my ideas about creating character and story, and I also worried about writing so publicly, about having the process on view. But it is about process. It's also about possibilities and losing control. Once other people create characters and enter the story, everything moves in a new direction. I've found, too, that this project easily leads to other places. Characters can comment on other, real Facebook pages, for instance, and they can also leave Facebook and venture out into the rest of the online world. Jenna wrote a poem, and The Narrator posted a link to the Experience Project (experienceproject.com). I decided Jenna ought to post her poem there, so she now has an Experience Project account. Here's her poem (It's flarf).

The Book

Kara van de Graaf

This project emerged out of a class assignment that asked me to question the boundaries of "scholarly arguments." What's required for an argument to be scholarly? If it's research, well, I did quite a bit of research on Blake for this piece, and all of it informed my thinking here (even while I was still finalizing and shaping the more traditional argument of a related critical essay). But that research may not be super visible to an outside reader in this text. Is visibility a requirement?

My original notion for the work was that it would be an interactive Flash movie. It was important to me to have the concept of the hand involved, and I wanted to have a Flash cursor that was a reasonably life-like version of a hand. I hoped that the landscape would have "section" of interactivity, individual components or elements that could be interacted with in order to make the text change and shift. However, it was challenging, in the bounds of the semester, to make this all part of one text in the way that I had hoped. I felt the experience of Prezi was the next best option.

I thought a lot about whether or not I wanted to include text as part of this piece. That, for me, would have made things clearer in terms of how to make this argument happen. In the end, though, I didn't want to simply remediate an already extant argument and translate it into the form of a Flash movie. I wanted to think through how the constraints of Flash that I was working with created a different sense or understanding of argument. What I like about Flash, and what I was able to accomplish with it in a short time, is that it engages with a sense of being as a body. The positioning and repositioning that is made possible in those movies stretches the idea of embodiment for me. It made me ask questions: what, really, is Blake's sense of embodiment? What was the problem he was hoping to address and solve, in a textual way, through his work?