When I first began to think about myself and this class, and how I wanted to connect that to the ability to notice, or my acknowledgment of my own noticing, I wanted to have a clear and concrete definition of the term before I began. I found that the verb “notice” means “to become aware of.” I think that I became aware of a lot of things this semester, not only about myself but also the content that I learned in this class. I became aware of the fact that I knew very little about the history of experimentation on black bodies in America, and reading Medical Apartheid as well as Fortune’s Bones really opened my eyes to an entire aspect of history that I was never made aware of in school. This was a difficult idea for me to process as I could not believe that more people were not talking about these horrors in schools and these crimes were completely glossed over and ignored in history classes. This also made me aware of the importance of listening to Black voices, especially in the literary space.
When coming into this class I had expressed how I struggled with participation in class and finding the confidence to share my thoughts with others. This was something I wanted to work on throughout the semester and really try to push myself when it came to how I contributed to the class as a whole. Reading books like Home, I was able to notice growth in the characters, specifically Cee, that in many indirect ways, could relate to my own growth within the class. Throughout most of the novel, Cee is viewed as the “little sister” and the one who needs Frank or Prince to take care of her and protect her. As the novel continues, Cee decides to leave Prince and find independence on her own. While this leads to a world of misfortune at first, it is through her process of recovery from the abuse she endured at her job, that she truly finds who she is and the voice and strength that she has. Cee’s noticing of her own growth and how she is where she needs to be can be seen when she says, “I ain’t going nowhere, Miss Ethel. This is where I belong” (126). This is a huge step for Cee in the novel as she realizes the experiences she went through only made her stronger and she came out the other end with a greater knowledge of who she is as a woman and what she can offer the world. This change was also noticed by her brother Frank as he says, “They delivered unto him a Cee who would never again need his hand over her eyes or his arms to stop her murmuring bones” (128). Just as Cee and Frank saw that growth and change in Cee, I saw a growth in myself throughout this class. I found my voice in this class, and while I will never be the loudest in the room, or the most confident, I was able to share my thoughts and ideas with the class and not only contribute to my own growth, but hopefully the growth of my peers as well.
When I first heard that we would be writing essays collaboratively in this class I was very concerned. I did not think that I would be able to write something with a group of people and have it be cohesive or done well in any way. This concept was entirely new to me and being in my junior year of completing an English degree, I have written countless essays on my own. My writing became something I was very protective over and passionate about. I genuinely was not sure how I would be able to share the writing experience with others, as it had always been such a personal matter to me. I was very pleasantly surprised when I noticed that writing can very easily be a collaborative venture, and the classmates in my group were able to point out connections in the literature that I would have never thought of on my own. Watching us all bounce ideas off each other and build on each person’s thoughts to create very strong pieces was a very eye-opening experience for me. One of the ways I can connect this to the literature is the way that teamwork is so important and vital in Colson Whitehead’s novel, Zone One. Mark Spitz’s team would not be able to accomplish what they do had they all been separated and working on their own. It is only with their combined efforts that they are able to stay alive and keep the city safe. It is when Mark Spitz is alone, without his team, at the end of the novel when everything becomes much worse with it ending, “He opened the door and walked into the sea of the dead” (322). This novel shows the importance of working as a team and what can be accomplished when we work together. This is something I was also able to notice through the collaborative writing assignments this semester.
The GLOBE’s statement that Geneseo students should “reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time, is something we have been actively doing throughout this course. In my goal-setting essay, I talked about holding myself accountable for the work I put into this class and the contribution I give to my peers during class and small group discussion. This is something I have reflected on frequently throughout the semester, making sure I am holding myself accountable for what I am putting in as well as taking away from this class. We have also reflected on our learning through the collaborative essay reflections. These allowed us to work together in groups to create a document that contained ideas from all of us collectively. We were then able to reflect on the work we did together, and notice what was done well, and what needed to be worked on. This helped in many ways because I was able to come into the next class with my group, and know that maybe I needed to speak up a bit more, or we needed to all discuss our ideas more thoroughly as a collective group. We were constantly reflecting throughout this semester and that allowed us to notice a lot about how we were all contributing to the class and we were able to improve based on those reflections.