Ethnography Notes


Many observations in my ethnography notes stood out to me, but none more than the time at which I was finishing my work. I completed the majority of my writing, whether it be a paper for my Harlem Renaissance class or my biology notes, at night. At the beginning of the semester, I did not think much of this. I received satisfactory grades and I felt that the work I was doing showed enough effort. Honestly, I believed that I did my best work at night. I kept these habits until sometime around Thanksgiving, near the end of the semester. I began to receive my lab grades, and noticed an increase in the positive reviews of my work. This lab happened to be a lab that I wrote in the middle of the day. As a result, I attempted to complete more of my work during the day and save the least as possible for the night. The improvement of my writing was enormous. When comparing the quality of my first Harlem Renaissance paper to my last Harlem Renaissance paper, the improvement is obvious. While many factors contributed to the quality of the work, I believe the time in which I wrote the papers played a major role. Due to the ethnography notes, I was able to notice a problematic piece in my approach to writing. Had I not been taking these notes, I would not have become conscious to the large extent at which my writing occurs at night. 

Like many other aspects in this class, the ethnography notes act to drive home the message of form and context. All six of the ethnography notes involved different contexts. By analyzing our writing in different contexts, the ethnography notes showed us how we subconsciously changed the form of our writing to fit the context. The form used for a birthday card is immensely different than that of a paper. Understanding the barriers of what is and is not acceptable in each situation is important when writing. In fact, Fish’s entire book, Winning Arguments, is about this importance. In many ways, our ethnography notes act as tools to understand the different boundaries that have been set in writing environments that extend beyond what Fish discussed in his book. For example, in my ethnography notes, I write about both my problem of God journal and my Harlem Renaissance paper. The style of writing done in the journal is more personal and reflective than the Harlem Renaissance paper. In the journal, I ask questions, and many times I do not propose an answer. Instead of arguing a thesis, I spend much of the writing trying to work out my thought process on many different issues. Had I written my Harlem Renaissance paper with a similar style to my journal, I would have gotten a terrible grade. The ethnography notes forced me to think about both the objective of what I was writing and the forms used to reach that objective. 

#6 Email

This set of notes will be about an email I have been writing. I am wanting to email Professor Pavesich to ask for information about the class Public Sphere Writing. The goal of this email is to come off as polite and interested, which I very much am. I have been working on this email throughout the day. Every time I go to write, something about the email feels off. There is in some ways a lot at stake here as this email is quite possibly going to be my future professor’s first impression of me. The professor will hopefully respond to my email. I am hoping for an enthusiastic response and to build somewhat of a relationship with the professor. For much of the time I have been writing the email, there is a constant hum in the background. My house constantly has noise and a quiet place cannot be found. Sometimes when writing I find myself drifting off into the background noise while at other times I am completely focussed. Working over the break has been somewhat hard, as I am constantly thinking of things I wish to do. I have found that writing when distracted is almost impossible. Recently, I have begun to work in a separate room from my phone, and this email is no different. I feel that there is a slight amount of nervousness that I need to overcome when sending the email. All in all, I believe that I am mostly just over thinking the whole process.

#5 Problem of God Journal

Every week I am supposed to write a journal entry for my class, The Problem of God. The journal entries are submitted in pairs, meaning that every two weeks I submit two entries. The writing in this journal takes on a personal tone. I find myself focusing less on grammar and more on my ideas. Many times I find myself writing in a stream of consciousness. Most of what I do write in my journal is what I have been thinking about for the past week. The journals are supposed to be for myself. They are only graded for completion and the main goal is to get to know yourself better by participating in spiritual biography. Like the name of the class would suggest, problems of God are commonly discussed in my journal. I usually start writing my journal entry some time near five in the afternoon. The journal entries at the minimum are one page hand written in a composition notebook, but can go on for longer if we wish. I find myself regularly writing more than a page. On a side note, the readings from this writing class are discussed fairly often in these journal entries. I write my entries on Friday every week. They are mostly done in my room, and usually do not take more than thirty minutes to complete. I receive feedback on the ideas that I bring up from my professor. The feedback is more on the side of advice than it is on technical grading. In all honesty, I quite enjoy writing these entries.

#4 Biology Notes

When it comes to brainless, robotic writing, the epitome, in my opinion, is biology notes. When writing biology notes, my main goal is to get as much of the information written down as possible. Accuracy is important, and grammar in this situation means nothing. When taking biology notes, much of the notes are simply copied from the powerpoint that is given, hence the mindlessness. The notes in themselves have nothing at stake. They are not graded and I am the only person who will ever see them. The test of the note’s quality comes from the actual biology test. Our biology tests are open notes, meaning easily accessible, concise notes can play a large role in a successful grade. To make my notes easily manageable, they mostly consist of sentence fragments. While there is no direct response or feedback to my biology notes, as stated before, my performance on the test is a good indicator of the note’s quality. Most of my notes are taken at night. Before every biology class, there is a pre-lecture. Usually, I save the pre-lecture as the last thing that I complete everyday, meaning some days I finish it at nine and others at twelve. I have noticed that many times I feel rushed to finish my notes. I am usually tired and want to sleep before I have to wake up early for the biology class. When taking my notes, I am usually in a room with decent lighting, although it could be better. On most days, my notes take anywhere from forty minutes to an hour, depending on the length of the pre-lecture.

#3 Harlem Renaissance Paper

My last big piece of writing was a paper for my class on the Harlem Renaissance. This had a lot at stake. I believe that it is worth 30% of my grade, so a lot of time was put into it. I started writing the essay on a Tuesday and I finished on Friday night. The aim of the paper was to write about something that we had gone over in class, and I chose to write about W.E.B. Dubois and the Talented Tenth. When writing this paper we were supposed to use the past tense only, as it is a history paper and everything happened in the past. I am expecting many comments on my paper, but I do not know when I will receive them. I believe that I will also have a chance to rewrite it because it is our first paper. When I wrote the paper I was always in a pretty small room mostly at night, where the lighting wasn’t the greatest as there are only two small lamps. Like most times in my house, there was a significant amount of noise present and usually there was a television on. The last day that I wrote the paper, I was feeling terrible. For some reason I had a terrible headache and it was not after a couple of hours until I could really focus on what I was writing. It was very obvious that my writing after that time had gotten much better. I then spent lots of time editing the paper, and then eventually turned it in. This was one of my more interesting papers, as it was on a topic I really enjoyed. I find that when I write about something that I find interesting I usually write much better. I believe this is partly due to the fact that I have more of a motivation to learn more about something I find interesting. When I write about topics that I know well, I find it much easier to make an argument with a consistent flow. When I do not know much about a topic my writing becomes more choppy and not as connected, I have noticed.

#2 Pre Labs

Writing pre labs is always a fun time. I have found myself writing my pre labs later and later Wednesday night, especially as the year goes on. The last pre lab I wrote, I finished at around 11:30 MST, which since I now consider myself to be living on east coast time, is essentially 2:30am. The forms of writing that are required for the pre labs vary. At times it is simply a sentence explaining your hypothesis or what results you are expecting, and at other times, it can be more like a scientific research paper. My last pre lab was of the more informal sort. The writing that was needed for my pre lab was a hypothesis and an explanation of my controls, not needing more than a few sentences. I was very grateful for this, because it is usually around this time I have found myself starting to fall asleep. I find myself working on my pre labs mostly when sitting on my bed. I do not find them a particularly hard task to complete, and many times they are over very quickly. Usually at night when I write my pre labs, the only sound present is of the dishwasher and at times the low hum of a television. In all honesty, I do not know what the stakes are for this writing. I have found myself many times questioning whether or not these are ever actually read, or if it is simply a completion grade, with our post labs being where our points are actually earned. As you could guess, I have not gotten any feedback on any of my pre labs, which is both disappointing and also relieving. I am not entirely sure how I would feel hearing feedback on them, as many times I feel as if I could have done better work. For my pre labs, I have continuously found myself completing them for an extrinsic reason and not an intrinsic reason. While I do enjoy my lab and the information that we are learning, when it comes to the pre lab many times I am just working to get them done. I believe that the aim of the pre lab is to both provide a preview of what is going to occur in the lab, as well as provide a little extra motivation to come to the lab prepared and having read and watched all of the necessary material.

#1 Birthday Cards

For me, one of the most stressful times is when I have to write something on a birthday card for a family member. I find myself always writing in the same classic form of, “Happy Birthday! [insert name here],” and then move on to eventually telling them that I hope they have a wonderful day. Now that Covid is a thing, I find myself continuously adding something to the effect of, “I am sorry that your birthday is coming during a pandemic but I hope you still are able to enjoy it.” While there is not much at stake when writing a birthday card, I still want to write cards that mean something to the person. For that reason, I try hard to add in at least one personal thing into the card. One thing I have found is when writing a card for people in the same household, I try to make it seem as if I put the same amount of effort into the card. I do not want one person thinking I spent an hour thinking about what I was going to write while another only received one line of a generic message. What I have noticed when I write birthday cards, it is usually at a time that I am preoccupied. I find this happening all of the time when I am watching, specifically a basketball or football game. For this reason, my writing on the cards is usually rushed. In addition, many times when I am being asked to sign a card for a cousin it is in the hours, or sometimes minutes before we leave to go to their house. Once again, I am put in a situation where I have to rush a response. The last time I wrote a birthday card, I was in the middle of watching a football game while also studying for a Spanish test. I very hastily wrote a note on the card, and then went back to watching the game. In defense, my team was losing. Now looking back, the stakes are not very high when writing something like this. There is not much of a chance that someone will hold a grudge for what you write, or do not write. While I do want to write something that could make someone’s day, I doubt that any birthday card I write will get a second glance.