Part of an academic capstone experience is a retrospective appraisal of your college career, specifically, in this course, of what and how you have learned in your career as an English major. Toward this end, you are asked to gather a portfolio of five samples of your English course work—pieces that represent the diversity and, perhaps, progress, of your intellectual and creative engagement while at the university. Your portfolio should include at least one relatively early work (from English 175 or any 200-level English course), at least one scholarly analytical paper from a 300-level course or higher, and at least one upper-division work from a course within your emphasis; those in the Creative Writing emphasis, for example, might include a story or a set of poems, while those in the Professional emphasis might include a business or technical report. You will want, naturally, to include in your portfolio a sample of what you consider to be your best academic work, but this is not as important as choosing works that you can appraise in a thoughtful manner in your introductory essay.
This essay (of about five pages) should be a narrative that situates the samples in your portfolio within your career as an English major and an analysis of what each piece reveals about your interests, your ability to accomplish what you set out to do, the strengths and weaknesses of your learning and writing practices , and shifts (if any) in these practices. Include in your narrative some specific quotations from your portfolio samples that support your analysis. Regard your work with curiosity and respect, as if you were a literary critic or cultural anthropologist. In conclusion, both look back, drawing some inferences about what has been most frustrating and most valuable in your English major pursuits, and look forward, offering some speculations about how what you have learned might be of value to you in your future career and life.
Some portfolios will be selected (at random) for review and discussion by members of the English Department’s Curriculum Committee as part of our outcomes assessment process whereby we evaluate the strengths and weakness of the English emphases and curriculum, so that we can make improvements in our program. Thus you are providing a valuable service for the department in constructing and appraising your portfolios. Doing this work, however, should be of primary value to you, as it may give you a perspective on where you have come from and where you are going in your intellectual and creative endeavors.
Your portfolios should be neat, but need not be elaborately-produced; a simple folder containing your work will do. They will be evaluated on the basis of their completeness, on the evidence they contain of your having met departmental goals, and on the quality of your introductory essay.
Noteworthy reflective essays from the past:
James Banks (spring 2008)
Dan Benapfl (spring 2006)
Megan Larrondo (spring 2006)