The Post-45 blog—8 @ 50 points each = 400 points / 40%: Over the course of the semester, students will compose 8 blog posts of 750-1000 words in one of 3 categories. Each student is required to complete at least 1 “critical” posts (academic article summary).
Blog posts will will be a prominent feature of the course for the first 9 weeks before we transition to the final project, and I encourage you to use these posts to explore your own ideas about, and affinities with, any given school, poet, or period. I expect your posts to be polished, free of major errors, properly formatted, and they should incorporate various forms of media and external reference (images, video embeds, links to other sites or posts, and so on). Never blogged before using the WordPress platform? Check out the instructions in the drop-down under the blog link in the main menu. As you review the instructions, please pay close attention to the use of categories. Each student is required to post at least once in each of the three blog-response categories. While there is no set template for these posts, please conclude each post with a well-crafted question or two that emerged from your reflection–a question that will allow us to follow the conversation back to the shared reading, extending those insights together. Here’s a breakdown of the categories:
- Close Reading: engaging the poem closely using the “How to Read a Poem” guide linked on the first week’s schedule. You must engage textual particulars through quotation and analysis, and you might also attend to specific matters of context as needed to frame your analysis. Do your best to move from a description of what is happening thematically and formally in the poem to making a more focused argumentative claim, supported by evidence in the form of textual analysis, about what you think the poem achieves or fails to achieves (or somewhere in between). Thus, though your close-reading can attend to broader contextual matters, please quote from the text and stay close to the textual particulars even as you make a case for their broader significance. Also, assume an external readership, which means you should set up quotes and scenes using narrative / descriptive cues.
- Critical: These posts required that you summarize and respond to a peer-reviewed academic article or book chapter–preferably one that the class has access to via library databases. Use the library catalog (for books and book chapters) or the MLA International Bibliography (for peer-reviewed articles) to locate an article relating to the author, poem or school (and its surrounding context) under discussion. I assume that most of you have taken some course with a dedicated assignment related to composing a responsible summary, but if not please use the linked guide. These are research-based posts and they should always be written with reference to the article and its author. The easiest way to make sure you’re doing this correctly is to (1) maintain the summary frame by using frequent signal phrases (“so-and-so argues,” “so-and-so describes”); and (2) introduce quotes without assuming that anyone else in the class is familiar with the article (we’re not). The post should be about 80% summary and 20% reflection / engagement.
- Creative: For this prompt, you are asked to compose a poetic imitation that relates in some way to the aesthetic principles of a given school. Even if you’re not a poet or have never written a poem, engaging the various poetries from the perspective of creation rather than reflection can be eye-opening. I understand that word counts can be tricker when dealing with creative work, but you should still offer a substantial 500+ word reflection on your own creative work. In the “Creative” category, you have two options:
- Compose a poetic imitation embodying the aesthetic principles or formal tricks at play in one of the poems we read for class. Please include a reflection on your imitation to help frame and explain your efforts–and what you learned through them–to the rest of the class.
- Compose a poetic response. While an imitation is more calculated, what I am calling a response might be thought more as an inspired “talking back” the source–talking back with anger or agreement or sadness or joy or sarcasm. Again, please include a reflection, for the benefit of your readers, that helps frame or justify your response.
Style: Though blog posts are naturally more informal–and perhaps less affectedly stuffy–than the more academic writing you typically do for English courses, I expect them to be intelligent, engaging, and free of grammatical errors. If your post seems too casual, vague, and doesn’t engage their putative subject with rigor and depth, it will receive a lower grade. I will comment on your posts every week, feedback that I hope helps you come to understand what good blogging entails. It is good to keep in mind: though more “informal,” blog posts are often riskier, pithier and more dynamic than standard research-paper writing in my experience. And remember: this blog will be public and searchable—it can and will be read by people outside the class. That said, you can create a pseudonym for your blog identity–or just use your first name. You can control this via the “User Profile” function. You can also publish posts as “Private” using the “Visibility” menu item to the right of the composition box.