Your first writing project for this course is to write an idea-centered blog. In using the term idea-centered, I mean that your blog needs have a clear overarching theme, a set of questions or interests that connect your posts to one another.
We’ll look together at some examples of how writers in this class last spring approached this task. In considering possible themes for your blog, though, you might also want think about the methods you want to use in researching and writing it. Blogs are often divided into three types. You can either:
- Report on experiences and events (for example, Bull City Rising);
- Aggregate texts and other materials (for example, Rand’s Esoteric OTR); or
- Comment on news, trends, or texts (for example, Develle Dish).
These approaches are not exclusive. Many blogs are mix of reporting, aggregating, and commenting. What really defines a blog is its focus—what it talks about and who it talks to. Bull City Rising focuses on news about resurgence of downtown Durham; Rand’s Esoteric OTR archives old sound recording technologies, and Develle Dish analyzes news and events at Duke from a feminist perspective.The challenge is to define a theme that is both focused, so that your posts don’t seem random, but also capacious enough for you to imagine returning back to it, in various ways, over the next eight weeks.
Your first set of tasks will thus be to decide what you want to blog about, to set up a WordPress account, and to come up with a title, visual design, and “about” page for your blog. I’ll ask you to do this work by next Tues, 1/ 24. (See r1 for more details.)
You will then be required to update your blog regularly for the next eight weeks, until Fri, 3/20. At a minimum, I’ll look for:
- Four extended posts (over 400 words)
- Eight brief posts (between 100–400 words)
Group blogs often possess an added energy and excitement, and so if any of you are interested in working together on a blog, I very much encourage you to do so. I’d simply expect each contributor to help set the focus and design of the blog, and to produce about as much prose as if they were writing an individual blog.
I’ll also ask you to work as part of a blogging group, in which you follow and comment on the blogs of four or five other writers in this class. We’ll set aside some class time for these groups to meet during most of the weeks before spring break. I will read your blogs on Friday mornings and try to comment on them as often as I can.
You’ll earn a single letter grade for your ongoing work on your blog. I’ll decide on this grade at the end of March. Among the factors I’ll consider in doing so are:
- A consistent and coherent series of posts
- Clear and imaginative prose
- A thoughtful use of your blog template and of the affordances of the web (images, audio, video)
- Comments from readers and followers of your blog.
Blogs are still an emerging form of writing. What makes blogging exciting is its sense of newness and possibility. But this also makes it hard for me to list exact criteria for grading blogs in advance. I thus need to ask for your patience and good humor as we figure out together the kinds of online work that are both possible and interesting.
Good luck! I’m eager to see what you come up with!