The Relative Truth
by Sydney Carim
Lens Essay | UWS 42b Images of Africa | Chieh Chien Hsieh | Fall 2019
About this paper | This paper as PDF: MLA format
(L-R) Producer Kevin Feige, director Ryan Coogler, and actors Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, and Chadwick Boseman promoting Black Panther at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. Photo: Gage Skidmore - https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/28018675963/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50394163
Black Panther was the most highly anticipated movie release of 2018. Its all-black cast and predominantly black production team made this superhero movie the first of its kind. Finally, a black actor would be taking the lead role rather than portraying the sidekick. Finally, African and African-American children could look up at the silver screen and see a powerful character that looked just like them. Black Panther was instrumental in diversifying film and representing the African population, inspiring hope that more films like this were to come. Although the casting of the film was an integral part of its impact and importance, Black Panther does much more than just bring Africa and African stars into the spotlight. By using Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism as a lens through which to view the movie, the underlying complexities of the film are made clear. Understanding Orientalism as a means through which to orient oneself on the world stage and as possessing a rich history of Western dominance and power allows one to view truth as relative. Once this idea is established, it elucidates the true purpose of the film: to challenge the idea of one single story and to help the world imagine a new narrative, one born out of freedom and self-determination rather than systemic dominance and oppression.
Edward Said, author of Orientalism, describes Orientalism as a method of orienting oneself on the world stage through the creation of an “other.” In Said’s analysis, Europe took the role of the “Occident” by exoticizing Eastern countries as “Orient.” In this binary relationship, the West became the dominant, masculine power, making the East the feminine submissive. This “basic distinction between East and West [became the] starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient” (2). These theories, works and political opinions came about as a result of colonialism. As Said explains, colonialism and the political power of the Western world was what allowed for the creation of Orientalism in the first place, and their continued dominance then perpetuated Orientalist ideas for centuries to come. Although Orientalism may seem like a narrative based solely on stereotypes and myths of the East created by the West, that is not true. Rather than being simply “expressive of some nefarious ‘Western’ imperialist plot to hold down the ‘Oriental’ world, [it is] a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic [and other] texts; it is an elaboration … of a basic geographical distinction” (12). In other words, Orientalism cannot simply be a collection of fallacies, for it is rooted in the geography and history of colonialism. It is rooted in the actions of white colonizers against those they saw as “other,” inferior beings that had to be taken over, suppressed, and taught what was “right” and what was “cultured.” Because the West possessed greater power, it consequently possessed the ability to formulate the widespread “knowledge” and “truth” of their dominance and the East’s inferiority, therefore writing it into history. Looking at the film Black Panther with a basic understanding of Orientalism and its founding principles gives the viewer a more interpretive viewpoint that allows for deeper analysis of the film, as well as its goals and impacts.
Black Panther exemplifies the idea of “othering” that can be found within the concept of Orientalism. Rather than the West othering the East, as described in Said’s book, here the audience sees the West othering Africa. White characters in the film look to their Western/European ethnicity to orient themselves, and by orienting themselves globally, they see their place of origination as superior to others and therefore place people of a foreign land—in this case the African continent—within an inherently inferior status. This way of thinking leads to a binary relationship that causes widespread misunderstanding and division. However, the binary relationship that occurs as a result of othering is not simply built upon a collection of myths—looking at Black Panther with Orientalism as a lens allows one to see how the history of colonialism greatly impacted the story. One scene within the film that does a particularly good job of exemplifying this is the scene in which Agent Ross, a United States citizen, is seeing Wakanda for the first time. He wakes up after being healed of a bullet wound to the spine and is dumbfounded by his surroundings. His argument with Shuri, a Wakandan, emphasizes how it had become the West’s truth that Africa was inferior. Agent Ross exclaims “Bullet wounds don’t just magically heal overnight,” to which Shuri responds “They do here. Just not by magic, by technology” (1:09:38-1:09:52). When looking at this through Said’s point of view, one can see how the political power of America and the West in general had a big influence on how this conversation came to be. The history that the West had written for the world led Ross to think that what he was surrounded by couldn’t possibly be real. Because of the fact that he was in Africa, the place that he had been taught was always inferior to America, he has difficulty understanding how an African country could be more technologically advanced than America. Even when he is told that the place he is standing in, the place that had healed him, is Wakanda, he remains confused for a few moments, unable to see past the preconceived notions he had adopted in the West to the reality in front of him. The history of colonialism and centuries of people being taught that Africa is an inherently inferior place is what leads to this moment. The “othering” and dumbing down of Africa to one single story by Western people hoping to orient themselves as superior is what allows this conversation to take place.
This scene also exemplifies a supplementary idea of Orientalism, one that helps to illuminate the complexities of Black Panther: the idea that the opinions of those in power become everyone’s truth. Said claims that history does not just develop naturally as events occur, but that “men make their own history, and what they can know is what they have made” (3). However, not all people have the privilege to make their own history. Political power and economic dominance allows only certain people’s views to become everyone’s truth, and it is this relationship between power and what the majority discerns to be the truth that makes the truth relative rather than an absolute. The effects of this phenomenon can cause widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation, as one can observe in Black Panther. After Agent Ross and Shuri’s conversation, he walks to the window and is awestruck by what he sees. In this moment of realization, the camera zooms out and then stops. Within this frame is Ross, dwarfed by African technology. He is surrounded by darkness, but rather than this darkness having a negative connotation, it is a symbol for progress and power. As Ross is standing there, he is realizing that what he had believed about Africa for his entire life is wrong. He is understanding that the history he had been told and the knowledge he had been fed was wrong. And as he is gazing at the wondrous production of African power and African intellect, he is coming to the understanding that the truth is relative. He is beginning to understand the inherent connection between knowledge and power, and how the power one holds influences which stories get written into history and which get left behind. This frame, though brief, symbolizes the beginning of the breaking down of centuries of colonial history in which truth is absolute. It exemplifies the connection between truth and power, both in how it can be dangerous, and how the realization of its existence can be revolutionary. Said’s explanation of Orientalism allows viewers of Black Panther to understand the implications of this scene, as well as how the film has a complexity that achieves more than just bringing Africa and African stars to the spotlight.
Once the viewer understands that the truth is relative, the purpose of the film becomes clear. Rather than allowing the single story of those that dominate to perpetuate, Black Panther aims to help us imagine and bring into reality a new and previously undervalued narrative. By taking traditional African culture and weaving it into the film, the audience sees Africa portrayed in an entirely new light. Every time a Wakandan character is depicted, the audience sees designs and fabrics of Accra and Maasai communities as symbolic of beauty and strength rather than eccentricity and primitivism. Each time the characters speak Xhosa, the viewers hear the knowledge and wisdom within the words of the official language of South Africa. As these scenes and conversations play out, traditional Senegalese music plays in the background, allowing such sounds to become representative of strength and innovation rather than primeval tradition (Edoro). Every instance in which African life is associated with power, intellect, and innovation builds a new narrative. The film becomes a medium through which to show the world African strength and African beauty, something that Africans have always known to be true, but the world had not had the chance to see.
Despite all that the movie does do to bring new narratives to light, this is not to say that the film does a perfect job of eradicating the Orientalist mindset. There are many instances throughout the movie in which African stereotypes are emphasized and the binary relationship between Westerners and Africans is reinforced. One such instance occurs right before T’Challa is crowned the King of Wakanda and ritual combat for the throne takes place. The battle ground is staged on top of a waterfall, with the Wakandan tribes overlooking from surrounding rocks and ledges. As the camera zooms out to show the entirety of the scene, the viewer is overwhelmed with an array of color. Each Wakandan is outfitted with bright dress and extravagant face makeup and piercings, and together they chant to the beat of the drum. The ceremony proceeds, and eventually a challenger from an outsider tribe appears. The tribe emerges from a cave in the side of the waterfall, barking like dogs and wearing gorilla masks. Though this scene may at first appear to be showing off African culture, it becomes more and more clear how it based less on culture than cultural stereotypes. The setting of a beautiful waterfall at the edge of a flourishing jungle plays into the stereotype of Africa as being made up of wild and luxurious landscapes, unspoiled by cultivation and privatization of land. Though it is understandable how the costume designers were attempting to bring many African cultures into the film, their overuse of traditional African dress, piercings, and makeup, coupled with the chanting and beating of drums push this scene from being representative to being appropriation. To top it all off, the challenger to the throne is depicted as more animal than human, with the animal masks and barking pointing to the understanding of Africa as inhumane and primitive. The movie does a lot to portray African culture in a positive light, but sometimes this is exaggerated to the point that it becomes counter to the goal it is trying to accomplish.
However, in order to fully analyze the failings and successes of the film, one must understand that the Orientalist mindset is founded upon the use and exchange of many different types of power. Said defines Orientalism as a discourse that is produced from the exchange of many types of power, including “power political,” “power cultural,” and “power moral” (12), all of which are interdependent and therefore hard to dispel. If Black Panther had eradicated all of these types of power in one film, it would have accomplished quite the feat. Although the film is not perfect, it does deal with the different types of power and bring in entirely new ideas of power.
One thing that the film does achieve is portraying Africa as a world power. Throughout the movie, Wakandans deal with the problems created by the villain Klaw, and they defeat the scheme that Killmonger has for world domination. By integrating themselves into global issues and being an important part of an international team, the people of Wakanda portray Africans as significant and powerful on the world stage. For one of the first times in film history, Africa is being illustrated as a global powerhouse, a state with the strength to be influential on an international scale and save the globe from impending doom. Not only is Africa being portrayed as power, but so are women, and women of color in particular. The women warriors in the film, the Dora Milaje, as well as Queen Ramonda and Shuri, are all integral parts of the well-greased machine that is Wakanda. Without them, the state would lose a great deal of power and strength in their military, a great deal of knowledge from their leadership, and a great deal of innovation from their technology. This directly contradicts the Orientalist idea of the strong masculine West vs. the weak feminine East and speaks to power intellectual and power cultural. The culmination of these two powers result in a sort of Afrofuturism—an imagination of what would have happened within Africa had colonialism never occurred. By creating a new African state and fantasizing what the impacts of a African powerhouse would look like, Black Panther allows us to come up with a speculative answer to this question that can never truly be answered. Though the film does not portray African culture with perfection or dispel every unjust power dynamic between the West and Africa, it does allow the viewer to see new types of power on the big screen, all while helping them to imagine a world without colonialism.
The concept of Orientalism is integral to the understanding of the deeper significance of the film Black Panther. Understanding the founding ideas of the theory aids one in seeing how the film exemplifies the idea of “othering,” while understanding how such a thing was established throughout history allows one to see how colonialism influenced the final product. Analyzing the movie with a grasp of the relationship between knowledge and power, and perceiving therefore that truth is relative, reveals the central goal of the film: to bring about new narratives that challenge the single story of Africa that has been perpetuated for centuries. Though it occasionally plays on African stereotypes, in the end Black Panther works to introduce new ideas of power and allows one to play with the concept of Afrofuturism. This portrayal of a powerful and futuristic Africa causes viewers to yearn for what they cannot have—an Africa free of the effects of colonialism. As the film works to provide a possible answer to the question that is presented by Afrofuturism as a concept, it simultaneously begs a new question: can a community that has been deliberately rubbed out have a future? Though the answer to this question will only come with time, the depiction of a strong and innovative nation provides the audience with the hope that this will be the future that Africa will possess—for it is certainly the future that Africa deserves.
Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler. Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. Marvel Studios, 2018.
Edoro, Ainehi. “The New Image of Africa in Black Panther.” Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 4 Dec. 2018, za.boell.org/en/2018/12/04/new-image-africa-black-panther.
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. Pantheon Books, 1978.
About This Paper
UWS 42b Images of Africa
Essay Two: Lens Analysis
With a solid grounding in the analytic technique of close reading, we can begin to apply that knowledge to other texts. This assignment asks you to examine a text not only by close reading, but also through the “lens” of a scholarly work. For the lens texts we will read excerpts from two groundbreaking works in postcolonial studies: Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) and Johannes Fabian’s Time and the Other (1983). For the primary texts we will watch and analyze two films: the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther (2018) and the Hollywood adventure-romance classic The Africa Queen (1951). Both films are set in the African continent and call for a critical interrogation of their representations of Africa. We will discuss how Said and Fabian help us think critically about the “legacies” of colonial discourse and use their theoretical ideas as lenses to analyze the representations of Africa in these two films.
For this essay, make an argument about the representations of Africa in Black Panther or The Africa Queen. You will choose one of the films as your primary text and then use one of the two texts as an analytical lens to make your argument. How does Said’s concept of Orientalism help us interrogate the filmic representations of the “other” in relation to the legacies of colonial discourse? How does Fabian’s notion of the “denial of coevalness” in the anthropological discourses help us think critically about the questions of temporality in the film? And finally, how does the film in turn complicate the lens text of your choice? Your aim is to stage a dialogue between the primary text and the lens text in order to construct an argument that you could not have made through close reading alone. You should seek to synthesize your understanding of the lens text with your interpretation of the film, and explore the ways in which the ideas from one text complicate that in another.
In making your argument consider the following questions:
- How is Africa represented in the films?
- How is the film in conversation with Said or Fabian?
- What do some technical/formal aspects of filmmaking (i.e. camera movement, frame, editing) say about the representations of Africa in the films?
- What function do those images of Africa serve in the films?
- How do your observations about the film complicate Said’s ideas of Orientalism or Fabian’s theorization of temporality?
Your paper should be 7-8 pages long or 1500-2000 words in a Word document (Times New Roman, 12pt, double-spaced).
Goals of the Essay:
- Open with an engaging introduction that makes your motive clear. Gordon Harvey describes motive as “the intellectual context that you establish for your topic and thesis at the start of your essay, in order to suggest why someone besides your instructor might want to read an essay on this topic or need to hear your particular thesis argued.” We’ve discussed motive previously in class as the starting point (“they say”) to which your thesis claim (“I say”) responds. Your motivating move can be asking a question, responding to the “status quo,” or adding complexity to an initial interpretation. Ask yourself why your paper is important until you can respond with a satisfying answer.
- Create a dialogue between the primary and lens texts. Don’t settle for a “baseline reading” of the points of connection between the primary and lens text. It is not enough in this assignment simply to match the concepts laid out by the lens text onto your ideas about the primary text. Rather, devise a thesis that identifies how Said gives you the vocabulary to look at the representation of Africa in the primary text in a new light. You will also want to identify a “twist,” a place where your case and lens don’t match up perfectly. This is your opportunity to revise, refine, or even critique the lens—you need not agree with the theoretical text wholeheartedly, just remember to explain why you disagree and to examine the merits and faults of its arguments logically. Essentially you are being asked to interpret the primary text and reflect on your lens. As always, close readings of specific moments are required to support and complicate your argument.
- Grapple with the theory’s central ideas, rather than taking isolated passages out of context to support your ideas. Whenever you are called on to bring a critical text into an assignment, your essay will not only be judged on the merit of your original ideas but also on how accurately you represent and make use of the critical text. Even when you disagree with the author, you must explain why you disagree, and that requires you to fully understand the author’s position. When you refer to critics, be sure you engage their main ideas and not a side detail of those ideas.
Format and Hand-in:
- Document quotations using MLA in-text citation method. This citation method requires that you cite your sources parenthetically in the text of your essay.
- A complete draft of your paper with cover letter is due on March 10.
- Your final paper with cover letter is due on March 22.
Tell us about this assignment. What were you hoping students would do with it?
This assignment asks students to examine a film through the lens of either Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) or Johannes Fabian’s Time and the Other (1983). The two primary texts for them are the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther (2018) and the Hollywood adventure-romance classic The Africa Queen (1951). By asking students to put a popular film into conversation with scholarly works, the assignment provides an opportunity for them to learn how the questions raised by these texts still speak to our contemporary life. With a film such as Black Panther that has become a milestone with its enormous cultural footprint, a re-reading through Said or Fabian allows students to engage with new ideas and explore new interpretive possibilities. Through this intellectual activity I hope students can appreciate how those scholarly texts provide important conceptual tools that can be used in many other non-academic contexts as well. Ultimately, the goal is to help students to become a critical thinker/writer and connect the knowledge they learn in classroom with issues and concerns that are still relevant to our world today.
How did they do? What did they tend to struggle with, and what did they do well?
In general, students at first found it challenging to grasp the main ideas in those scholarly works. In their drafts they tended to focus on some less important ideas rather than the main arguments. That’s why during the revision process I would ask them to reread the lens text as closely as possible and help them see the possible connections between the argument of the lens texts and the primary texts. Once they gained a more comprehensive understanding of the lens texts, they did really well in making surprising observations and interpretations about the films. Oftentimes I would be surprised by students who came up with new readings of the films that connected with the lens texts in unexpected ways that I had never thought of in the first place. It is always intellectually rewarding when students make me see things I don’t usually see, and in this sense I’m also learning new things and new ideas from my students as they are becoming better writers and thinkers.
What worked particularly well in Sydney’s paper? Did anything surprise you?
What really surprised me as I re-read Sydney’s paper was that it beautifully orchestrates a dynamic conversation between Black Panther and Orientalism that produces new understanding of both texts. This is not an easy task for most students, as it requires an intellectual daringness to explore new ideas and make new connections. Her paper manages to do that by critically engaging with Said’s concepts of binarism and “othering” and then using them as a lens to produce a new reading and allow us to appreciate the depth and complexity of the film. It is really a remarkable accomplishment and I’m really happy to see Sydney’s paper selected for the Write Now collection.
Sydney Carim talks about her paper with Write Now! editor Doug Kirshen.
Sydney Carim talks about her paper with Write Now! editor Doug Kirshen.
Doug Kirshen: We’re here with Sydney Carim to talk about her paper that she wrote for her UWS. Tell me a little bit about the course and the topic and why you chose to write what you did.
Sydney Carim (she/her): The UWS I took was Images of Africa, so we spent a lot of time talking about the different narratives that are portrayed about Africa. Specifically, from a Western point of view and how often those narratives are inaccurate because the world is only given a single story about this one place [as if it is] one homogeneous culture and it's actually very diverse and something that is not accurately portrayed in the media.
So when I was asked to do this lens analysis … we were given a few options as to what we wanted to analyze and I really was struck by the idea of how inaccurately [Africa] is portrayed in the media. We were given different types of readings but I really wanted to do something a little bit more contemporary, so I chose to analyze Black Panther. It was something that I had watched at home when it came out and that I really enjoyed so I was very excited to try and look at it from an academic lens and really analyze and see how well did this movie do in portraying Africa accurately, because that was something that it was praised for, and so I wanted to dig deeper.
I chose to look at it through the lens of Orientalism [by Edward Said] because I felt as though that reading really paired well with some of the scenes in the movie.
Doug Kirshen: Tell me about that lens text and what interested you in it. What was it like to use that lens to look at this movie that you'd already seen and liked so much?
Sydney Carim (she/her): A lens analysis was completely new to me it's something I had never done in high school so I was a little bit unsure starting out how exactly you are supposed to use a lens and what exactly that means when you're forming argument, how to bring the two texts together. One of the biggest takeaways I had from Orientalism that I felt was very applicable to the movie was this idea of "othering," and the prevalence of binaries in our society, and how, in this binary there's two subjects and there's always one that's more dominant and one that is considered inferior. I felt as though those ideas applied to the movie, especially in the binary of Western culture and an African culture and Black and White ... You know, all these topics that we were talking about in class.
It definitely took a lot of time flipping through the text looking for quotes that would apply. And talking a lot with my professor, because I was kind of stuck at the beginning and really unsure how to fit the two together. I knew I had this idea, but I didn't know exactly how to articulate. Meeting with my Professor before I even started and before I even wrote a thesis or anything like that, when I just had my starting ideas, was really, really helpful for me.
Doug Kirshen: Orientalism is a well-known text in academia and very influential about how Europeans, how White people saw a culture that was very different and "other" for them, as you said, and set themselves up in a relation of superiority and inferiority — particularly cultures in the Middle East that were seen as exotic. There was a lot of art made through that viewpoint in the 19th century … There was a certain picture of the East that the West created for itself. So how did that apply and not apply to this film about Africa?
Sydney Carim (she/her): Right, so because Orientalism wasn't actually talking about Africa, I had to sort of take these ideas that [Said] had made about the East and substitute the East for Africa, and see how do these ideas still apply when talking about a different region.
I felt as though [the way Orientalism] approached it applied kind of easily, just because in the media that I was looking at specifically and a lot of the discussions we had been having class, it was very clear how Africa has been "othered" particularly by Europeans or descendants of Europeans like in America. And how they portrayed [other cultures] to be inferior or barbaric, or like you said, exotic, and not taking them seriously. And I think that parallel between the way in which Orientalism was looking at the East and the way in which Western Europeans — back in history when Orientalism was still what was written, and even now, this mindset and this viewpoint that we have of Africa as being a singular country with a singular culture and a singular people. Really othering them and putting them into a box that is not at all accurate to their practices and their beliefs. It made the transfer of this idea pretty easy.
Doug Kirshen: Black Panther is a fictional movie based on comics and was very influential itself. How did you find that the movie, as seen through the lens of Orientalism, talk back to the lens?
Sydney Carim (she/her): This was something that I focused on a lot. I guess the point of the movie, the goal was to push back against this "othering" and against this narrative that had been written about Africa. And so, for the first time in a blockbuster film and a superhero film you're seeing African people in the lead roles and you're seeing African culture being portrayed in a positive light and being seen as something that's powerful and creative and innovative.
Something that really helped the movie do this well was their use of Afro futurism which is this idea of reimagining Africa if it hadn't been colonized. What would Africa now look like if Western Europeans hadn't come in and split up the [continent] and did what they wanted with it? That’s where Waconda comes in, and you have this idea of this beautiful luscious powerful innovative place that is completely African run and has really preserved African culture to the most accurate and beautiful way that it can. It really allowed the movie to write a new narrative about Africa and about the people within it.
Doug Kirshen: You told us getting started on this project wasn't very easy or natural or something that you've done before. You talked to your professor a lot and read and reread and reread the text. Do you remember anything else about how your thinking evolved over the course of writing, revising, and talking about it with your peers? How did your thinking evolve during the process?
Sydney Carim (she/her): I started out really wanting to talk about binaries because the idea of a binary was new to me, it was not something that I had discussed before and I had felt as though it really enlightened me to the way in which the world works and how people are categorized — you know, superior [vs.] inferior and how the world makes those categorizations. I had already written a thesis and I was trying to find evidence and structure my paper and put together how I wanted my argument to flow throughout the paper. [But] as I was rereading the text, the idea of power and how important power dynamics are to who gets to tell the truth, and how these binaries and who is dominant not only does it matter for who has the most power materially and physically but also once that person becomes dominant in that way, they also have the power to rewrite history in a way that favors them and to portray the truth in a way that favors them.
So this idea of the truth being relative, which is what I ended up naming my paper and centering my paper about didn't even come to me until about halfway through the process when I had this revelation — I was like oh my gosh it all makes sense. And that was when I had to go back and I was like "I just have to use this idea." I know I'm already sort of halfway through the structuring, but this is just something that I feel is so important to talk about. So I had to go back and re intertwine that into my thesis and back into some of the paragraphs where I thought [it] would fit very well.
Doug Kirshen: I think that was a very smart and brave move of you to take what you had thought about and developed in your thinking over the course of writing and go back and use it and revise when that when that that bolt of lightning happened in your mind. It speaks to the process of revising and using the process of writing as a process of thinking that we encourage students in UWS to do. So that's very great to hear, and the result of it was certainly terrific. Do you have any advice that you would give to people who are going to be doing this for the first time, like you were? What would you advise them?
Sydney Carim (she/her): I have two main pieces of advice, the first is, do not be afraid to go to your professor and ask for help. That is why they're there, they're there to support you, they want to see you succeed they're not judging you. That was a big step for me going to a professor and being like I don't actually really know what I'm doing, I'm just getting started, and I need a little advice. I think doing that early on in the process and admitting your struggle is so helpful and makes the rest of the process so much more smooth. Because you can continue to have check-ins with the Professor as you're writing — like okay I just came up with this really crazy idea and I'm not exactly sure how to make it fit. Do you have any advice for me? Having your Professor there with you, from the start, makes that process of editing and revision so much easier, as you go along.
And something else that I found very helpful when writing this essay was not to be afraid to spend a lot of time in the outlining process. You know it's okay, if you need to sit with your thoughts and really restructure and my biggest thing is making sure that I have a flow of ideas, making sure that I have my paragraphs in the right order so I feel as though my argument really flows from one point to the next, making sure that I have a full understanding of where I want to go with this essay before sitting down to actually write it. Sometimes doing that makes writing so much faster where you don't have to be sitting there and re-evaluating and thinking as you're writing because you took your time in the outlining process, and even though it's painful and you're like I just want to write this thing already. Really taking your time at the beginning can be super helpful and once you're actually writing your fingers are just flowing over the keys, and it being a lot easier to articulate and to really get out in a way that's more smooth.
Doug Kirshen: I think that's great advice for future students. Sydney, thank you so much for talking with me about your experience