Zip 1 – January 7th and 8th

Provide a copy/image of your research notes. What concepts in your learning do you now feel you have a solid grasp on? Which ones might be useful to other students in their learning?

A lot of websites I encountered were for marketing blogs or business blogs, and less for personal blogging. I used their general tips on writing structure, attention-grabbing, and colour. The main source I found useful was this website:

I now feel I have a solid grasp on the basic step by step process of writing a post, which may be useful in other expository writing we do in English. I learned about the types of posts and titles. I learned about making a captivating intro, and how bloggers also include a call to action at the end, a strategy commonly used in marketing. The main big idea I focused on was how to secure an audience’s attention and to stick to a single, interesting topic. I learned the basic structure of a post and effective organization.

There were several approaches to a hook/intro. Some used humour, while others used empathy. For travel blogs, I specifically found a visual description to be effective. For my London post, I drafted:

You stand in the middle of a street lined with twisting narrow roads, cobblestone sidewalks, and a flurry of people seemingly always in a hurry. It’s a stark contrast to the breezy, slow-paced life of a Canadian. You may start to feel overwhelmed, by the quizzical, yet endearing mix of old buildings reminiscent of castles standing next to modern buildings of glass and grey. Do not fear. In this post, I’ll go over some attractions and activities in central London, to ease you into the endless experiences the city has to offer.




ZIP Proposal

What elements create an effective blog?

I began blogging during the summer as a personal journal, but scrapped all my posts, seemingly frustrated with my writing, the images I put, and the messy aesthetic of my site. For Zip, I’m eager to revive my posts and learn how to write blog posts that effectively capture the reader’s attention. I hope to learn not only how to write, but also how to visually arrange my blog in an aesthetically pleasing way. I chose this question because I’m passionate about sharing my experiences through writing, and I’m also passionate about travelling to other countries. For this blog, I’m going to compile these two passions into a travel blog, documenting my experiences from the summer.

Currently, my knowledge of blogging is very limited. However, I do know the components that make up an effective writing piece, so I can apply these basic skills to my blog writing. I want to expand on website aesthetics, the placing of images, and how to grab an audience’s attention and keep them reading for the entire piece. I’ll tweak the current post I have up to fit the new skills and tips I will be researching. Specific skills I want to expand on are title-making, writing effective hooks, and learning how to fit my writing towards an audience. I will evaluate the choice of colours and format on my blog, and how to align those to the theme of my writing.

I can approach a mentor I met at a writing camp, Dara Homer, for advice on how to write this blog. She was an English major at Columbia, a current English teacher, and blogs in her free time, so I can ask her questions and look at her own writing as an example. I’ve worked with her already for poetry writing and essay writing. Since blog writing skills also include some aspects of journalism, I can reach out to a mentor I met in London who is currently studying English at UCL and is a journalist. Additionally, aside from online research, I can look at other travel blogs that are well-read and established.

At the end of my inquiry, I’ll demonstrate my learning through my blog. I’ll show people my blog while highlighting skills I used through a print-out screenshot of my blog on a display with various writing tools circled. I’ll have people read all my posts and also comment on the visual format of my blog and the colouring/theme.


January 7-9: Research notes and tips. Research what makes a good blog post and appealing ways to arrange a blog.

January 10-11: Edit my first blog post (that I already have up)

January 14-18: Continue writing new blog posts, all following the notes while experimenting with different types of posts.

January 21-25: Edit existing posts, get presentation material ready. Circle and identify elements of the blog post for presentation board.

January 28th: Present!



Style Analysis

In Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, she employs the use of foreshadowing and imagery to expertly convey the novel’s plot while establishing a mythical, fantasy-esque tone. Le Guin sets the tone of the book by beginning the story with a preamble on the nascent Sparrowhawk, a powerful wizard, who “in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage”(1). By directly delving into the main character’s destiny, Le Guin prompts readers to inquire about the storyline of the character’s rise to fulfill that destiny. Le Guin uses her gift of purposeful ambiguity to push readers to read further. Le Guin wastes no time in providing supplementary details that nullify the fantastical plot or slow down the pace of the novel by elaborating on meticulous detail. In accordance with ambiguity, Le Guin also utilizes imagery. Le Guin provides visual and sensory details to immerse her audiences in the scene without fixating on logistical or irrelevant statements. She describes the sensory aspects of Duny’s fog to emphasize the effects of Duny’s magic, focusing on the Kargs’ confusion while they “[followed] dim wavering shapes that fled just out of reach before them” and waited for the fog to abate (13). Sensory details allow us to fully comprehend and acknowledge the sheer power and scale of Duny’s magic, further piquing our interest in his prophecy. Ursula Le Guin’s unique writing style in A Wizard of Earthsea pinpoints and manipulates the degree of detail in each scene to set a delicately crafted pace that brings momentum and mystery to the story.

Wizard of Earthsea Questions

Ironically, the wisest people in our world downplay their knowledge. Acknowledging the limitations of your own knowledge is simultaneously understanding the complex, endless scope of the world and society we live in. Wise people are wise because they show experience, insight, but most importantly, good judgement. Good judgement incorporates having a realistic view of your own potential and ability while recognizing your limits. The wise understand that it is simply impossible to be all-knowing or omniscient in the intricate world we live in. Ignorant people have distorted views of their own intelligence, ignoring the reality of the world’s many multi-dimensional systems and believing they know everything there is to know. These perceptions often mar their outlook of the world, simplifying it to fit their own beliefs and past knowledge. A wise person understands that the pursuit of knowledge is never-ending because our society is perpetually evolving. The true enjoyment they derive from intellectual stimulation is the constant stream of new concepts to grasp and ideas to ponder.

wise nugs

These are three wise nuggets I gained from speaking with Adrian Myers, a corporate lawyer.

To fully enjoy an occupation, you must accept that it will have both enjoyable and unenjoyable moments.

When you want to achieve an ambitious goal, you will need to sacrifice your personal time and recreation in order to pursue it to the best of your ability.

If you invest your energy into a task, anything can have a creative aspect.

Film or Text?

“The extraordinary, it seems, was simply out of their reach,” Harrison bellows, as the camera pans over a petrified audience bearing grim looking handicap devices. Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and Chandler Tuttle’s film adaptation 2081 depict a frightening world in which equality is enforced through brutal means. The plot of both works revolves around Harrison Bergeron, an escaped convict who rebels in the public spotlight while his absent-minded parents watch from their television. Despite their many similarities, Chandler Tuttle’s 2081 is a more effective medium for portraying the story due to its soundtrack and visuals and the plot’s heightened tension.

In 2081, the ballet is a multi-sensory experience, which allows audiences to insert themselves into the fleeting liberation of the moment. The orchestral music and cinematography emphasize the tragic, suspended beauty of the scene. The music that Tuttle uses in the scene has a descending, sorrowful melody. When the poignant soundtrack is paired with slow-motion shots of Diana Moon entering the theatre, it creates a tangible suspense to a degree that words cannot. Cinematography and music enable audiences to experience the suspense through more than one sense. Conversely, in “Harrison Bergeron”, Vonnegut employs short sentences to control the pacing and tone of the story. However, Vonnegut sacrifices many descriptive details while attempting to use abrupt, bleak sentences. For example, Vonnegut’s describes the orchestral music as solely “much improved” (4). The text illustrates how Vonnegut’s lack of description can dilute the significance of an event. In the film adaptation, Tuttle portrays the music through actual instruments, providing a more immersive experience. With film, directors can create tone and suspense without sacrificing visual or descriptive elements.

Moreover, Directors can create apprehension through alterations in the plot. Chandler Tuttle adds a supposed bomb threat in 2081 and showcases Harrison’s charismatic speech. These changes create urgency and danger in the plot because the entire audience is at risk. Additionally, Harrison seems to recognize his father. Near the end of the film, he shoots a glance at the camera, which may be an indication that he knows his parents are watching. This offers more emotional conflict and reverberations in the plot because we feel increased pity for both Harrison and his father. In the short story version, Harrison does not acknowledge his parents in any way and does not threaten to detonate the bomb. The lack of emotional backstory creates a disconnect between many of the story’s characters, hence decreasing the tension in the plot of the short story.

With its added sensory aid and thrilling plot changes, the film is the most provoking and eloquent medium of expressing this story. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, the story is told through text, which invites readers to make inferences about the setting, appearance, and sounds of the plot. Contrarily, in Chandler Tuttle’s 2081, the film bombards viewers with a deluge of sensory experiences, which creates a more urgent and realistic telling of the disconcerting story.

Eminent Intro 2018

May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.


I am a zealous fan of poetry. I especially admire its unrestricted ability to portray dreams and ideas through words and language that are manipulated entirely by the writer. Sappho is perhaps one of the most influential female poets, and her life is an epic poem of its own; historians and fans are presented with a notable impact, but to truly uncover her personal life, we must read between the lines and use her poems to uncover her identity. Sappho’s raw emotion and descriptive language were unusual in ancient Greek times, especially being authored by a female. From reading a few excerpts of her work, I was drawn even closer to the mysterious figure of Sappho.

Sappho was a Greek poet that originated from the island of Lesbos. She is a literary influence that is relatively untouched by modern society. Sappho is revered for the beauty of her writing style, which presents itself in emotional poems about love written in a lyrical, song-like form. Sappho garnered admiration to the point of earning praise from prominent Greek scholars and cultural revolutionaries. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, named her the “tenth muse”. Her poetry remains in the grips of scholars through the form of fragments, as most of her work has been lost, or even burned by the Catholic church in the 1000s due to its promiscuity and expression of love. In spite of Sappho’s archaic, ancient life, her poetry proves to be influential as scholars still speculate over her life today.

Fragments of her Poetry

Sappho and I share a love for language and literature. Sappho utilized her gift for poetry to tell stories, but most importantly, she told stories that were personal and individualistic, in contrast to the glorified stories of epic Greek gods that prevailed over most literature at the time. As gifted learners with a proclivity for language and emotion, we share a passion for human emotions that manifests itself in our behaviour and in our work. Sappho’s poems were songs of the human heart, often about heartbreak and the joys of love. I aspire to emulate Sappho’s authentic expression of herself in her writing. Sappho’s work was the product of her own creativity and bravery. Sappho exemplifies my goals to be fearless in my identity and to use my strengths to create works that contribute to the artistic valour of the society I live in.

There are some key differences that may hinder my ability to fully put myself in the role of Sappho and her life story. I’ll try to focus on the similarities in our personalities and creative struggles during my speech.

Val Sappho
Wealth/class Middle class Aristocratic family – valued luxury
Gender Female Female
Race Asian Caucasian (Greek)
Sexuality Bisexual Bisexual
Religious faith Agnostic Polytheistic

The eminence Sappho represents is attributed to both her personal rebellion and the nature of her writing. Sappho was exiled to Sicily for her political views and was heavily scrutizined by following Christian generations, with comedic plays being created about her. Sappho wrote clearly about personal stories and messages addressed to her loved ones, straying away from the epic, ceremonial poetry written by poets such as Homer. Sappho’s innovative style is now adapted as the Sapphic stanza, a stanza that follows a specific meter similar to Sappho’s in her own writing. She lived as a free spirit, reflective in the cries of her poetry.

Scholars and academics are still trying to uncover many details about Sappho’s life nearly 3,000 years later after her death. Our pursuit of knowledge concerning Sappho proves that she has left a clear mark in our universe and the world of creative expression.

Sappho lived in a time in which women in city-states had little to no rights. There were severe restrictions on women’s laws; they were unable to conduct business or sustain their own lives. Educational facilities were separated by gender to tailor schools to the specific gender’s needs. Sappho transcended all expectations by employing her own academic talent and was eventually praised by all members of Greek society, even being featured on paintings, coins, and art.

Sappho is worth studying because she remains a literary influence and an icon in the field of humanities – yet when I asked my peers and parents about her, nearly no one knew who she was. Sappho’s fragmented life and impeccable poetry can teach us how to express ourselves fully and passionately, through words and language that resonate the most with our individualistic desires.

For the next part of my eminent study, I hope to grow more comfortable with reading her poetry and writing. I’ll start to look into poetry foundations or journalists that have written pieces on her, and I’ll try to contact them for an interview.

Someone will remember us, I say; even in another time.



TED Talk

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, she emphasizes the importance of not limiting our perspective and worldview to a single story. We can implement this piece of advice by expanding our network of friends and people we interact with. The people we spend our time with influence our perception and breadth of knowledge. If we only spend time with a certain race or demographic of people, the only stories and information we’ll hear will be limited to that demographic or culture.  This is evident in Chimamanda Ngozi’s anecdote about the childhood stories she read. Because she only read what was written by British/American novelists, she never learned about or even encountered African writers and characters that she could relate to. Chimamanda Ngozi didn’t selectively choose to read exclusively British/American pieces of literature; she simply wasn’t given the opportunity to read literature by African writers. Even though we may be comfortable with the stories we are presented with, we must actively seek to gather more and more perspectives through relationships and knowledge, because there are always more sides to the story than we know of.

Requiem for a Dream – Sara Goldfarb

Requiem for a Dream’s Sara Goldfarb is an unfortunate reality; she’s a lonely widow, suspended in the streets of Brooklyn, reaching a standstill in her life while her drug-addicted son, Harry, pursues his own distant dreams. Sara is obsessed with appearing on television, losing weight, and being a pretty woman in a red dress, with fiery red hair. This chosen scene illustrates Sara’s lonesome life, and how her nearly palpable sense of isolation manifests itself in her delusions. Sara wants to lose weight and to feel the bliss of her youth again, disregarding the obvious complications of the pills. Harrys father loved the dress, so [she] was going to wear it”, meaning Sara is still intent on living the jubilant life she once lived before her life descended in a downward spiral (142). She fears that she will assimilate entirely into her growing isolation. Sara is alone; Harry’s gone, Seymour’s gone” (143). How could Sara shop when [she doesn’t] cook for anyone?” (143) Her role as a mother and wife is now obsolete. Sara’s development and conflict are highly believable. The author draws on inspiration from characters we encounter in our walks of life, especially in a city that is obsessive in its ambition and dreams. Sara is depressed, and she uses a conjured image she inserts herself into to give her something to look forward to in her life, hence leading her to be in thrall to the diet pills. I believe Sara’s raw and devastating disintegration is perfectly executed by Hubert Selby Jr. Her actions and wishes are authentic, disconcerting, and uncomfortably relatable for all audiences, though Sara is a living example of a road we try to avoid in our own relentless search for happiness. Sara Goldfarb is a character we must pity, and serves as a reminder of our vulnerability and need for purpose, rather than a hero that is to be emulated. In my own life, I lust after manufactured images that are flaunted in our society. Undeniably, I have a tendency to believe that my own fulfillment must come from serving others or being liked by others. Sara has an inability to deal with her innermost sadness, and her methods are not healthy, even resulting with her hallucinating her fridge taunting her. I hope to hold control over my internal conflicts, rather than letting my internal conflicts control me.


Have you ever befriended a homeless man? Perhaps Morley’s friendship with Emil is a rarity or a miracle. Morley makes a conscious effort to give Emil the benefit of the doubt, achieving amity with his endearing character. In Stuart McLean’s Emil, Morley befriends Emil, a homeless man with a passion for gardening that he fulfills through plant theft, much to the disapproval of Morley’s other family members. Through their blossoming bond, Morley learns that people with the least material possessions often hold the strongest character and spirit. Emil is far more multi-dimensional than his exterior status; when Morley asks him about his garden, he looks up and “for an instant he was clear and she could see him: the real person” (116). Morley has an innate ability to sense Emil’s character and drive. She is able to see past the sight of a ragged, crazy, eccentric homeless man to grasp his inner personality and story. Emil’s outward presentation doesn’t reflect his real worthiness or place in the world. When Morley offers him a chance to demonstrate his dreams without judgement, he flourishes, and we see a glint of his potential and passion. Morley encourages Emil through a series of selfless acts, including her “[taking] him stuff for the aphids”  for the purpose of genuinely supporting Emil’s happiness rather than giving him perfunctory politeness (117). Emil’s life takes a turn for the better, and it seems that even in the face of monetary value, Emil remains true to his roots. We can infer that generosity is Emil’s form of currency, which is what he seeks to obtain in a vastly materialistic society. When Emil wins the lottery, he “[ends] up giving four thousand five hundred dollars away” (118). Emil doesn’t view money as a necessity or a vessel of satisfaction or contentment. In contrary to the majority of societal yearnings, Emil’s strength of integrity and personal character allows him to use his pastimes to maintain his candor to himself and his desire to give back to his community.