Welcome (and Get to Work)!

In class today, we considered these questions (among others):

  1. what is the current status of reading, and how are the functions and ubiquity of digital media changing definitions, uses, and pleasures of narrative?  In what ways are literary scholars and writers, who have traditionally been the champions, custodians, and advocates of narrative, adapting to the changes in reading?  What are the stakes of the reading “crisis” for them?  How might our functions, values, and cultural roles shift in the Information Age?
  2. In what ways do we expect narrative to convey reality or truth?  What are the conventions here, and are they adapting to the changes we discussed above?

In the service of exploring these two questions, there are a set of tasks that I’d like you to get started on this week.  Primarily, they are related to the first of the two questions above, and they are the basic tools that underpin new dimensions of writers’/scholars’ networked communication.  (Here’s a link to an article that describes the role of these, if you’d like to review; you’ll see why I want you to create both a blog and a Twitter account, and start to experiment with them.)    Below are detailed instructions on how to set up both, if you need them, as well as instructions about what to do with them once you have them.  What I need from you posthaste: the url for your blog via email, by 1/18, so that the class can follow you; in addition, please post an introductory tweet using the hashtag #eng576 so that we know you’re up on Twitter.  Don’t forget to post to your blog and to Twitter (see assignments below). Finally, come back by this site before class on Tuesday, 1/22, to leave comments on classmates’ blogs (they’ll appear in the sidebar).  Too much?  Too confusing?  Don’t hesitate to ask.


Before next week Tuesday (1/22), you’ll need to get yourself a blog to use for online writing. If you have one already that you’d like to use, that’s super—just send me the link (make sure that it will allow people to comment easily even if they don’t have a blog on the same platform.  I’m looking at you, Tumblr).  If you don’t, there are quick and easy instructions to follow. Here‘s the way I usually describe it to students.  Once you’ve got an address for your blog, I’ll need it so that I can put a link to it on this site. Please email the link to me no later than Thursday evening, January 18.

You’ll also need to complete a  blog post that introduces you to the class, just to get warmed up, and then a substantive post about the reading material for the week by Tuesday, Jan. 22 @ midnight. In depth information about your substantive blog writing can be found at the page devoted to social media work.  Your first post, however, should serve as an introduction.  What do you think we should know about you?  In what ways do you position yourself vis-a-vis the terms we’ll discuss this semester: reader in the digital age, narrative, writerly/scholarly identity and performance?  Tell us a story about your experience getting situated within these practices and networks.

Finally, practice tweeting (also described in the social media work link above), and please come to our course site, choose two of your classmates’ blogs to read, and post thoughtful comments on them.  We’ll trouble-shoot all of this in class on Wednesday.


  1. Register for Twitter (want some tips?  See YouTube for a variety of tutorials)
    • Send me your Twitter screen name/handle.
  2. Create your network: follow the class hashtag (#eng) and the other members of the class (check back here for their info).
    • On any individual’s page, you can choose to follow that person. The option is right beneath his, her, or its picture/image. Click on that button. You can then choose if you want to receive device updates from that individual.
    • Find some other interesting people to follow.  Check out writers and scholars that you like, and suggest them to your classmates. (Example: Jason Mittell la media scholar who didn’t quite make it onto our reading list, is an active Twitter user.) You can also follow different services to get updates from them, like CNN, McSweeneys, or local outlets, like All Over Albany.  (If you get super-interested in the article I linked to in the introduction, you can also follow the star of the show, Brian Croxall.)
  3. See the social media work link for more info about tweeting for class.
  4. For the first week, experiment with Twitter and get a feel for a variety of posts.  Familiarize yourself with the functions and protocols of twitter—hashtags, following, trending topics, etc.  Try out what you see!

Bonus: Other interesting ways to use Twitter.

  1. There are a number of desktop applications. A popular one for Mac OS X is Twitterific. Twitterific is also available as a free application for iPhone or iPod Touch.
  2. You can sync your Twitter updates to your Facebook status and vice versa. Just install the Twitter application on Facebook.
  3. Use your cell phone camera in conjunction with Twitpic.

(adapted from Brian Croxall’s Twitter Assignment)


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