THE WORK OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Scholars, writers, filmmakers, and artists in the contemporary world utilize social media in order to connect to one another and their audiences, but also to make their work, and the complex cognitive practices that underpin that work, visible to the world. (Some argue, in fact, that these provide a necessary means of making public the often-invisible processes of the humanities—a domain that is threatened in this time of economic hardship.) In a similar vein, we’ll use both blogs and Twitter to communicate with each other, but also to surface and document our individual and collective cognitive work.
I’ll ask you to keep track of this work (blog posts, comments, and tweets) via a grid, and to submit them to me at mid-term and at the end of the semester. Deadlines: All posts are due by Tuesday @ midnight. All comments and tweets for the week should be posted by Friday of the same week–you can certainly comment/tweet earlier, if you’d like! Late posts and comments lose relevance to the overall conversation, and won’t be included in your grade. Leave the week behind and put your time and energy into the subsequent assignments.
You can download a grid to keep track of your work here: mediaportfolio.
YOUR CLASS BLOG (POSTS AND COMMENTS)
Your class blog is the place to document your developing hunches, theories, intuitions, and ideas about the course materials. Over time, your posts will form an archive of these, and should allow you to identify the question that you’re most interested in researching for your final paper. Many contemporary literary scholars consider their blogs to be evidence of their ongoing work as a reader/writer/thinker; yours will be a part of this vanguard!
In each post (~500 words), then, you should strive to fully develop an idea or two that springs from that week’s reading. Your posts need not be formal–in fact, blogs are well known for being an exercise in personal voice. I’d encourage you to experiment with using an informal tone to express complex cognitive work. Here are some moves I expect to see in your blog posts:
- direct evidence from the text (a passage, a snippet of dialogue, a description of a scene or visual technique, etc.)
- analysis of that evidence (i.e., close reading).
- implications of that evidence on your thinking about the text as a whole (i.e., distant reading)
- larger contexts for that analysis. What are the debates, issues, themes, etc. in contemporary scholarship or culture that might be connected to your interpretation of this passage?
- Questions, additional things you’d pursue if you had time to research them, etc.
- a short list of additional themes, quirks, passages, scenes, etc. about the text that interest you
- outside sources, links, media embedded in your blog that are associated with the evidence from the text (explain the connection!)
What about comments? Once a week, you’ll post at least one to two of your classmates’ blogs. A good comment is one that engages with the author’s ideas, and gives him/her something else to think about: how might the writer extend or complicate his/her interpretation? What additional contexts could he/she consider? Do you know of additional materials that he/she might consult? You may be able to do this in a short paragraph, or it may take you a bit longer.
YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT
We will be using Twitter to extend our weekly discussions about our reading, viewing, and research for class. As many have noted, Twitter is becoming a powerful tool to connect to others, to join spontaneous and on-going conversations in response to events, to identify important thinkers in your field, and to locate new resources and ideas. It’s also a linguistic and cognitive challenge: how can you compress a complex idea into 140 characters? We’ll practice all of these functions over the course of the semester.
At a minimum, I’ll expect you to post three tweets a week: two tweets as a response to the course reading/viewing and discussions; at least one tweet in response to your classmates’ tweets. Over and above those three, a tweet to alert readers to your blog post, expertise project, or to share other relevant links are welcomed!. In order for the class to find your tweets, please use the hashtag #eng576.
Things to consider when tweeting responses to the class readings/viewings:
- Post patterns or emerging themes that you notice.
- Identify a particular quirk or weirdness in the text. (Your “wtf” moment…)
- Articulate a question or fundamental confusion you have about your reading/interpretive experience.
- Post a particularly rich quote from the primary or secondary source.
- Explain your wild—but substantiated—hypothesis or theory about the reading/viewing.
- Link to a text, video, and/or image that relates to the reading.
- Link to other resources that relate to the class.