The Secret Language of Comics

Of Principalities

I had trouble with this assignment. In particular, I think I had trouble converting written ideas into drawn images. Perhaps I unknowingly chose a complex subject to capture visually. I selected my notes from my modern political thought course. The subject matter my notes address is Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. The concepts Machiavelli discusses, which I consequently had to portray visually, are typically abstract and concern themselves with governance. I don’t know how to draw “governance,” though I tried to illustrate Machiavelli’s material points to his abstract rhetoric. For example, Machiavelli discusses Rome’s political structure throughout his chapter concerning mixed principalities. Accordingly, I drew a Roman pillar with an emperor-like figure flexing on top of it to represent the ideas Machiavelli discusses. Similarly, to represent Machiavelli’s conception of hereditary principalities, I drew a family tree in which progenitors die off, leaving only a single inheritor of power.

As well as illustrations of Machiavelli’s material references, I tried to incorporate details that encapsulated broader themes from my notes. For example, the crown resting on a prince’s head at the center of my drawing represents Machiavelli’s fixation on monarchical government. Similarly, I tried to depict Machiavelli’s conception of the principality, which is constantly watched over by its sovereign. I chose to do so by drawing a walled community and a pair of eyes fixated on it from atop a mountain. I also drew a bloodied dagger to represent Machiavelli’s more notable opinions regarding intrigue and the value of unconditional control in government. I do not think my drawings do justice to Machiavelli’s complex theories of government, though I don’t want to write off the practice of taking visual notes altogether. I think I might find them more effective if I took them while the professor lectured rather than while reflecting on my written notes. Perhaps I will try this for a different less conceptually abstract class.

Sketch 3: Visual Note Taking

Genetics: A Cat Love Story

Sunday Sketch 3

Sketching my notes helped me to understand the content much better because I had to think about the topic in a different way in order to draw it. I was forced to simplify the topic more because I am only able to draw simple images, and this helped me especially when trying to verbally explain genetics. I also like how through sketching my notes I now associate key terms with images allowing me to memorize vocab much easier. My learning style is the cross between a visual learner and someone who learns best through reading and writing, so drawing my notes out helps to a certain extent. I think it would help me better to take written notes and include diagrams and images along the way, or maybe make a small sketch of my notes at the end of each section to act as a recap.

JPN Virtual Notes

I think that this drawing notes does help condense large amounts of information. I say this because I did need to think about what to draw in order to correctly explain what my notes mean. It is a bit of a long process; however, I did enjoy turning my notes into a drawing. It makes it less of a chore to study my notes. The course context was also easier to understand. I would definetly like to try taking virtual notes again.

Seminar of Melancholy

The Vietnam War Part 1

During the process of creating these visual notes for my freshman seminar class, I discovered the extent of how much I understand the course content and what else I need to further spend time on in order to better comprehend it. The topic we have been focusing on in the last few weeks pertains to the Vietnam War. Because of the large number of details and events, infographics such as these also serve to organize my thoughts.

The Vietnam War Part 2

In the first illustration, a three-panel wall can be seen in the far upper left corner. This depicts the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The scrawl on the panels is the fifty-three thousand names of fallen victims of the war. The flowers and teddy bear at the feet of the memorial help paint a picture of the several trinkets and mementos left behind at the memorial friends and family leave behind. Just below is what I imagine a Veteran chat in a modern GroupMe would appear. This specific conversation depicts the misgiving these men gave to Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Similar visuals can be seen throughout the page. The country of Vietnam was enraged at the American enemy. The criticism of the site disorganization seen in both the inquisitive emoji and the Washington monument is a classic example of an “erected” monument. The absence of recognition towards Vietnamese veterans in the memorial is seen by the lack of Vietnamese names in the many tombstones. The American army demographics are rendered by the thought bubbles originating from the soldier where the audience can see that the army mostly consisted of colored men from the working class. Lastly, in the far right lower corner, a series of houses can be observed referring to the migration of Vietnamese immigrants into ethnic clusters with the intention of protection in numbers.

The Vietnam War Part 3

In the second illustration, I used meme emphasize the unusual Vietnamese decisions such as the glorification of weapons (M-16), the usage of sorrow to control the citizen’s emotions, and the ambivalence left after the war ended. The shopping bags observed in the far left top corner symbolize the memory industry that boomed after American troops left the territory.

In the third illustration, a more common diagram is seen depicting an American citizen choice of career that would be affected by the social stigmas left after the war. The conscious decision to not mention the Vietnamese in our memorial negates the possible victimization they could take on as a result of it. There are broader images and not as much text as these drawings mostly served as literal reminders of the long lasting effects of the Vietnam War.

sketch 3: Visual Note Taking

Visual Note Taking-Sunday Sketch #3

For this assignment, I found the action of drawing out my notes to be very interesting. I have never really thought about visualizing what I learn in my classes in that manner and I liked the change in note-taking technique. I think that I understood the content the same way that I did the first time I took the notes. The only thing that changed is that I was able to remember it and conceptualize it much easier. Also, I found that by drawing out my notes I could expand on what I had written about in a different way than words can. I found the process of drawing the notes to be a little bit frustrating because I felt like I had to make sure I did everything neatly enough to understand it in the same way as typed notes. Also, I found it difficult to transfer words into drawings and not leave anything out. I think I discovered that I learn well when I can read out my notes and have them organized into bullet points and pages rather than in a sketched-out format. Overall, I think that this assignment was very different and unique compared to the other homework I have had thus far in college. I think it would be interesting to see how this method would be more or less effective based on the class/subject. 

Reflection Literacy Narrative 1

I thought this narrative was very different because I had never written about my experiences regarding writing and reading. I always had a specific topic in mind hence this exercise was a bit different from me. I thought the free writing exercise helped facilitate the flow of ideas in my mind and helped me explore different aspects that I could write about. By the end of the narrative, I realized that this memory which initially did not seem that important was one that stuck with me. In the process of writing this essay I realized that I must work more on my writing skills to effectively communicate and put my ideas forth. A sentence I think people would identify with the most would be “It was just an ordinary day where I decided to read a regular book and take a break from everything else.” The simplicity of this statement makes it interesting because it is so routine that no one realizes how important moments like these are.

A Family in the 18th Century

I believe drawing the notes I have written about the material covered in the class helped significantly in making memorizing it an easier process. Although I am still behind in terms of my drawing skills, it was definitely an enjoyable and fascinating experience to draw about what what was covered in the class.

Throughout the drawing process, I have learned that the more I draw the better and faster I am in making my next drawing a less difficult experience. Hopefully it gets better as time goes on.

Blog Post Assignment

Visual Note Taking – Ethan Cohen

I enjoyed this process of turning my notes into visual notes. As I see myself as a visual learner, I often find a desire to do as much of this anyway when I am in the process of taking notes, depending on the class. For example, in an Art History course last semester, drawing small sketches of what was going on in the class proved helpful, in addition to drawing any key visuals on any slideshow into my notebook for other classes. I recognized that this way of thinking takes a little longer, and has points where it feels unnecessarily artistic just to be visual to be visual, but that was may favorite part. I loved drawing little aspects in more creative essays, and being able to practically doodle what I wanted.

Learning visuals through visual learning

For this assignment, I created a visual note to summarize what I learned about Samuel Fusso’s photograph “The Chief WHo Sold Africa to the Colonists” in my art history class.

Even though normally I would also include a fair amount of visuals in my ARTHIST notes — like images of the details of the work or of the other works created by the same artist — I typed out most of the information in a word doc instead of writing them down by hands with doodles on the sides, since for me typing is the easiest and most efficient way to record all the information covered in class in an easily recognizable manner.

So I used this opportunity to create a summary sheet for this particular artwork, and through the process I found it to be a great way to make connections between the various concepts mentioned during class as well as to memorize the key points about the artist and the work.