WP 4: A Wrap Up for My College Writing Journey
I like autoethnography as the essential idea that comes through the entire curriculum. Writing about my personal anecdotes and then elevating them to collective stories is a process of reviewing myself as an accumulation of multiple identities. To be honest, and professor Dissinger please do not misunderstand my analogy, I felt like the writing tasks that I did so far in this class were like something that I would have written if I were in jail for political crimes.
I truly appreciate this class for paving me with a new way of thinking. I used to consider that my concerns and dilemmas were so peculiar to which most people could not relate. The idea of autoethnography enlighted me that there are factors there responsible for my concerns. When doing research for WP 3, I learned a brand new concept, of which I did not use in my final draft though, named Intersectionality. The concept is a framework of thinking that filters one’s identity into different categories in order to analyze how much a person is under oppression. Those categories include race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, social class, economic status, immigration status, etc. For instance, a white cisgender male usually faces less systematic oppression than a black queer female. Michelle Obama is less oppressed than a black female who’s in debt given their socioeconomic status.
Using this framework of thinking, I try to dismantle my identity into pieces to examine my oppression status. I am a queer(oppressed), male(privileged), Asian (oppressed), Chinese citizen in the US(not sure if it’s oppressed but it’s definitely not privileged), born in a middle-class family(moderately oppressed). When putting it in this way, I found that many of my friends are in similar situations to mine even though they are from different countries. For instance, I can relate to my professor Lan who fled Communist Saigon because I am also living under such a similar regime. I can relate to my Japanese lesbian friend Mai who leaves for the States simply because she does not want to live with her homophobic family. Our experiences and culture shared a similar oppression status so we could relate to each other.
My central topic of the semester is diaspora, meaning the dispersion of people outside their homeland. In the previous three assignments, I try to answer three questions in order. For WP 1, I tried to explore the reasons for the diaspora. Why do people choose to leave, giving up their social connections that they had built since childhood, and go to a place where they are not familiar? For WP 2, I made a photograph critique, I chose 12 photos about diaspora and criticize them one by one. Without merely focusing on myself, I interrogated other people’s diasporic experiences. I talked about colonization, human smuggling, politics, and relocation to homeland, etc, all of which either derived from or lead to diaspora. For WP 3, I shifted the focus back to myself. I concentrated on my identity as a Chinese queer living in the diaspora. Using myself as an example, I explored how the diasporic experience deconstructs my national identity as an authentic Chinese. I figured that my detachment from China was due to the oppression of my sexuality that was being used as a part of a geopolitical battle. I also try to illustrate that queer people in diaspora reconstruct their identity to which the majority from neither side could relate. We are the alternative of the alternatives.
One of my discoveries in this class is that I realized the power of writing. Stories could arouse so much resonance among people and they are useful political tools. As for myself, writing is a form of acknowledgment of my guts cause there’s finally some hard proof of my mind that hasn’t been told to anyone. Referring to what I said at the beginning that writing autoethnography feels like creating a jail journal, I mean that autoethnography often carries the responsibility of recognizing the collective oppression that a large group of people has been going through. It is difficult to overturn such oppressions, so is dangerous to outspokenly realize the systematic oppressions. I can imagine if I had polished my autoethnography and posted them on social media in China, I would have been knocked door by the police.
I would also like to talk about my drawbacks in terms of my journey in this writing class. I usually have a very broad idea in my mind and I could not accurately translate it into a specific argument or analysis. When writing an academic essay, I feel like I have so many things to unpack which often creates chaos in my paragraphs. I often skipped some steps of analysis and directly jumped to the conclusion which makes the paragraph seem loosely organized and irrelevant. Even though I am very proud of the photo montage I made for WP 2 and I felt every photo that I analyzed speaks to a broader idea, if you ask me how each photo relates to each other, or what specifically that broader idea is, I cannot give you an exact answer.
I am a transfer student from Boston and I had taken three writing courses before getting admitted to USC. Apart from that three writing classes, I took another writing class at USC and this class is the last writing class I’m taking in my college career. I’ve learned many forms of writing, scientific, journalistic, academic, screenplay writing, and so on. After taking this class, I finally confirm that I am an art writer. There’s a very interesting idea in script writing, which is to “show but not tell.” I’m probably not the most efficient writer who could pick precise dictions to express my idea, but I can perform my idea through writing. I am capable of creating an atmosphere through which I deliver my ideas. What we write on a piece of blank paper is exploring our mind, and the idea of writing itself is self-exploration as well.