I think communication is an underused tool in our culture. I’m guilty of it, we all are. It’s tough and scary to tell the truth when it hurts, to be rational in anger, objective in pain and sadness. When we communicate we remove these obstacles. A lack of communication often represents a fear of rejection. When asked to bare our souls we back away, give excuses, or straight up lie. These are defense mechanisms, designed to protect ourselves, to keep us in our safe zone, tucked quietly away behind walls of silence and calculating paranoia. Your fear keeps you safe, or so you think.
A lack of communication means a lack of collaboration, helping hands, resources, and connections to help you right wrongs, achieve goals, and create strong relationships. No one can read your mind but you, and if you choose to lock the content away from others and yourself you will have a very hard time finding and doing what makes you happy and healthy.
When we communicate, even through fear, we allow others to see our ideas, thoughts, and emotions for what they truly are. And in turn, we help and allow other to react to our actions and words in a more truthful and helpful manner. When we learn how to communicate we learn how to express ourselves and how to connect to the world and the people around us. We are constantly bombarded with opportunities to communicate through written word, image, video, audio, action, and body language everyday. When you learn a new genre of communication you unlock a new way to help others understand and help you achieve you goals and desires. This is the beauty of communication. It doesn’t have to be done one way. You can communicate through a variety of almost infinite genres including: texting, stories, essays, songs, poetry, images, performances, sculptures, articles, speeches, talking to another person, blogging, vlogging, instructions, reports, letters, comics, advertisements, analysis, reviews, critiques, story, anecdote, script, scrapbook, resume, manuals, etc. Learning new genres will help you understand how to communicate in a more effective and helpful manner.
As a teacher i especially understand the importance of learning how to communicate through written and spoken word. Many students graduate understanding how to craft an excellent five paragraph essay, but unable to create a poem, story, personal essay. These forms of writing are excellent for communicating emotion, desire, and ideas about the self, other, nature, culture, and the world at large. When we teach students to not just how to write, but how to write in multiple genres we teach them to explore the writing and thinking process. Metacognition is extremely valuable and educational in helping one to understand how to grow, learn, and try new things.
As a teacher i encourage myself and other to learn about and how to use as many genres as possible. Each genre is best suited for a certain moment, style of communication, and action or idea undertaken by the speaker/author. To this end i am undertaking the unfamiliar genre project as a part of my class on writing about education.
The unfamiliar genre project in an exercise and exploration in genre, writing style, and how to write. Students are asked to choose a genre of writing they are unfamiliar with and research, create an example of, and reflect upon that genre. I will be completing the UGP in the coming months and am excited to explore and try out new ways of communicating.
For my UGP I have chosen to explore photo-essays. I think that images are very powerful but I have never taken the time to learn how to create an image that says something and that has a story or deeper meaning behind it. I also chose the photo-essay because I get to include captions. I have decided to not limit myself when it comes to my captions content and style. The captions might be poems, words, phrases, mini-essays, stories, or anecdotes, whatever i feel best capture and complements the ideas behind my images and the purpose behind my photo-essay.
I have not yet decided on a length for the project, I do not know if it will be time or image based. I think I will need to do more research into my genre and explore photography a little more to see how much i can/should express in one image, and how many images i will need to fully express the concept.
I am really excited to see where this project goes. Even though i haven’t started yet I am already excited to see my finished product and reflect on the experience.
This is my UGP proposal:
Which genre would you like to read and write in for your Unfamiliar Genre Project?
I would like to create a photo-essay with captions. I would like to play with the concept of self as a private and public experience through the use of self-portraiture and image combined with a written summation in a multi-genre form. Depending on the needs of the image the caption could be a poem, story, anecdote, phrase, single word, essay, question, or other form of writing.
What experiences, if any, do you have with reading and writing in this genre?
I have almost no experience in photography. I’ve taken photos with my phone of myself and friends, things i do, and whatnot, but they’re “facebook” photos. I wasn’t trying to say anything with them and they had no real purpose. I of course have experience in writing. I have written a few short stories, poems, and essays in my time, but i think the real challenge will be determining which genre would best fit each picture and then how to express the ideas and questions i hope to include in the photo-essay in written and image form.
What do you already know about this genre?
I did a quick bit of googling about the genre. I looked up some concepts for photo-essays and photoshoots. I also looked a bit at the purpose of a photo-essay and why a photographer would choose to do one. I know that the genre is pretty open to interpretation. The main point to to try to say something, anything, with your images and captions. Have a consistent theme or idea that pervades every photo.
Why are you choosing this genre?
I really wanted to do something image based to challenge myself, I think i’m pretty good at communicating with words so I wanted to play with another form of communication. That being said i also really enjoy writing and wanted to continue to stretch and push my writing skills. The caption portion will allow me to explore genres of writing that i am both comfortable and uncomfortable with. I think it will be really interesting to see what genres of writing i choose for which image. Whether i have consistent choices or switch it up every image, and how long i choose to make each caption will play a huge role in how the images are interpreted by the audience.
What would you like to learn by studying this genre and completing this project?
I would like to learn how to create an image that says something. I would also like to learn how to caption and express ideas in a complementary way instead of a holistic manner. I think it will be really interesting to explore how images and writing go together.