For your minor, less formal writing this semester, you’ll be keeping a class blog. There are several reasons behind writing in this form for this class:

  • Blogging makes you write more often, and in shorter, faster bursts than if you were only writing papers. I want to foster an environment in which you can use writing to think instead of feeling pressured to have all your thinking done before you sit down to write, and short, frequent writing gets that done.
  • You will have an audience besides me. Audience is really important to writing for a number of reasons, but what I’m most interested in here is that when students only write for their teachers they can begin to think of their writing as transactional—you give me writing and I give you a grade. This tends to make your writing boring and rigid, and the process of composing it stressful. If you’re writing for the whole class (and potentially even strangers who find our blog), your purpose can be to convince, to entertain, to wonder, to try out new thoughts, to ask for help, or to show off the cool things you noticed in our reading. It also tends to make your writing stronger if you think more people are potentially reading it!
  • You will write and/or read what others think about our class material before class, which will jumpstart our class discussions. I’ll know what issues interest you most, and we’ll come to our time together ready to continue an ongoing conversation rather than starting from scratch.

For examples of other class blogs, you can check out this blog and this blog. Remember: you need to link through to your sources, which in the blogging world counts as your citation. (For example, this project is brought to you by the fantastic Liz Lundberg – details about her and her work can be found on her blog. Info about this assignment specifically can be found here.)

DON’T FORGET TO USE THE PROMPTS THROUGHLY:

  1. Compare/contrast the passage to something else we’ve read, something else you’ve read, an outside text from popular culture, or an item in the news or current events. (If the text or item in question is not something we’ve read in class, please link to it.) The second text you bring in for comparison can be an example or illustration of an idea in the original passage, a different take on the same issue, a different use of the same writing form or convention, etc.
  2. Bring in some background material that enhances or changes our interpretation or understanding of the text (again, linking to it). This material could be: biography, history, info about the reception of the text, info about the cultural moment or movement the text belongs to, an allusion within the text, an author interview or reading, or an adaptation of the text. You should explain what’s going on in the additional material, how it connects to the passage you’ve highlighted, and what it adds to or changes about our reading of the primary text.
  3. Bring in a study, learning, teaching, or reading aid on this text (again, linking to it). These kinds of materials include entries on Wikipedia, SparkNotes, CliffNotes, Shmoop, Clusterflunk, etc. They also include discussion questions and reading guides created by teachers, publishers, libraries, etc. For this option, your response should be a bit deconstructive: study aids often present themselves as objective and complete, but you shouldn’t take their word for it—show us what these authors get right and wrong, leave out, prioritize, etc.
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