This is it. It’s the final days of this semester! And boy, it was one heck of a trip. Time really does fly by! I can honestly say I’ve grown so much more this semester than any other in the past. With the help of some amazing professors and their classes , I was able to push my intellectual boundaries even further… and that’s what college is all about, right?
After blogging about the various American women writers, we were assigned to come up with a website for a particular one we were interested in. Without any hesitation, I joined the group for Zitkala-sa. Out of all the authors we read in class, she was the one I connected to most. She had such a different writing style and came from a background I was less familiar with, which stirred up my interest. When any professor mentions group work, I already know there would be eyes rolling around in classrooms. However, my group was such a pleasure to work with. Creating a website was no easy task!
It was my first time ever using the Wix platform and took a while to get familiar with it. I’m a techy kind of person and love trying to figure out the mechanics of sites, so the frustration was definitely a choice. Once I got the hang of it; adding pages choosing the theme, and all the general elements, putting the content together was easier.
Each section was split by the members of my group, and I was in charge of assembling most of the contents of the site. Besides site building, I was responsible for the sections: Zitkala-sa 101, Bright Feathers, and a scholarly work critique entitled A Fixation of the Native Identity, as well as a contributor in our quotes section. What surprised me most about this project was the amount of content we were all so eager to add. In doing our research for Zitkala-sa, we saw that she didn’t have a huge presence on the web. It was either small glimpses of her or only one section on a large-scale site. Our goal was to give Zitkala-sa her own home, where anything you can possibly know about Zitkala-sa was visible. We also wanted to leave our personalized touch with our quote analysis and scholarly critiques. This project helped me realize how important it is for our authors to have a presence to the public eye. Nowadays, everyone does their research on the internet, and the main purpose of it is to get instantaneous answers. It is important to let the audience know about the overall demographics of a writer, but to also enlighten them with ideas they cannot find on a simple “About Author” section.
I cannot take all the credit for this website. It was truly a group effort and I appreciate their cooperation and patience. We didn’t want to leave one person in charge of adding each content, so we tried to log in and add our own. However, we figured out that because there was more than one person logging on and saving… another member trying to save would have their content deleted. It was frustrating but we pulled through. Not one person’s section was any more important than the other. We saw how each tab was significant in knowing Zitkala-sa more. I think I speak for us all when I say we wanted to make the best website possible for Zitkala-sa. Adding the little extra artwork and transitions were time-consuming, but definitely worth it. I was very impressed with the work my group put in. They had thought-provoking content and completely poured their heart out on each section.
Writing for the public audience was scary. Just the simple fact that typing in Zitkala-sa’s name and having our site be one of the options they can click on sparks my adrenaline. It is a responsibility. Are we giving them what they are looking for? Is our content good enough? Are we giving Zitkala-sa justice? These are some of the questions that popped into my mind during this project. We needed to make sure our sources were credible. There must be more facts than mere opinion. At the end of the day, we are trying to shine light on the author and not only us. It was interesting to switch the mentality of research a bit. Was this something I would be looking for when conducting research? If the answer was yes to every section our group made, then our purpose was well served. I believe that our website is the best web presence out there for Zitkala-sa. That’s not because I am biased, but because I know that the work contributed by my fellow group-mates is noteworthy. All aspects of Zitkala-sa has been covered. Zitkala-sa was very passionate about preserving her traditions and ensuring the voice of her people be heard. We wanted to be the ones who allowed her voice to resonate. It was finally Zitkala-sa’s turn to be heard.
What I appreciate most about this American Women Writers course is how personal it was. My blog up to this point has been dedicated to the authors we’ve read and how influential each were to topics relevant today. We’ve read stories that revolve around identity, strength, and finding a voice. I don’t think I can capture how significant this class was to my life with a single post. But I think it’s safe to say that it did empower me. Hannah Crafts taught me about freedom. Harriet E. Wilson shared ideals about the role of men. Harriet Jacobs gave importance to my childhood. Zitkala-sa reestablished the power of education. Nella Larsen showed me the importance of identity. Zora Neale Hurston helps me cope with falling out of love. I’ve learned a lot about these authors, but I know I’ve learned even more about myself. In previous classes, I was consumed with getting good grades and writing papers that were all about the structure. For so long I’ve written things that were never to satisfy me, by my professors. Suddenly, I have lost my voice in the sea of reasearch papers, strict MLA citations, and thesis statements that I could care less about. Like the authors I’ve read this semester, I was stripped of the one thing I valued most: my voice. Blogging holds a very personal place in my heart. I’ve done it before it was a “trend,” or before sites like Tumblr had gotten famous. It was my outlet. To have the opportunity to blog again was so refreshing. I fell in love with writing all over again. I actually wanted to read the books that were assigned. I remembered why I became an English major in the first place. Dr. Travis, I know you are reading this and I want to say thank you! Thank you for introducing me to such amazing writers and allowing me to connect to them through blogging. Thank you for letting my mind roam free, yet staying grounded on the importance of content. If there is one thing I will walk away with from of this class, it is to be fearless. I have to take the strength and lessons expressed by these women and remember to never forget my self-worth.
It’s okay to write a preface in a book. It’s okay to have your work hidden for a while. It’s okay to lose yourself sometimes.
My work might be forgotten. Maybe not even be found.
But it’s still mine. It’s my story. It was explained by me.