Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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English 3601a (Spring 2009): Blogs

Posted: Jan 02, 2009 23:01;
Last Modified: Jan 02, 2009 23:01

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The Internet has made it easier to read difficult texts. Search engines and mapping tools make it easy to locate information on obscure references and names. On-line encyclopaedias mean that we can all easily identify obscure references. Digitisation projects like Project Gutenberg and Google Books allow us to track down quickly sources or secondary literature. Our library now subscribes to thousands of journals where it once subscribed to hundreds.

Handling this information requires students to adopt an active reading process. As you conduct your weekly readings, you should be actively using the Internet to improve your experience. Look for discussions of individual characters or tales online; investigate the meaning of references to religion, politics, or culture; trace the route or location of characters using software such as Google maps.

This blogging exercise is designed to help you develop and demonstrate appropriate active reading habits. Each week, you will be asked to write a brief entry (100~200 words of original text should usually be sufficient) discussing some aspect of your engagement. Such entries might involve personal reflection, i.e. things that struck you as you carried out your week’s reading; small questions or facts you looked up; interesting material you read in conjunction with your essay research; or simply interesting things you found on the web related to the subject of this course. Ideally, you’ll have a mix.

Since these are blog entries, they do not have to build to a particular conclusion (though they may). Blogs often contain large passages of quotation, embedded video or images, and heavy linking to other sites: blogs are place where you record references and commentary, work out ideas, share interesting material with others (for a discussion of the genre, see the Wikipedia entry.

Your blogs will be graded on a basic letter scale: Excellent (100%), Good (80%), Satisfactory (68%), Poor (56%), Fail (0%). At the end of the year, I will also give a grade to your blog as a whole—how well does it reflect a semester of active reading and engagement with the material? These grades are largely intended to be formative (i.e. for your own use in studying and preparing for the lectures and assignments). An average based on your average grade plus your participation rate (i.e. the number of blogs completed out of the total number possible) will be included in your “Effort and participation grade.”

In assigning grades to your blog, I will use the following rubric:

Excellent

Good

Satisfactory

Poor

Fail

Remember that a blog is not the same as an essay—it is a record of your engagement (a “web log“) and generally not a formal argument.

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