Blogging for the Course

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  –Sylvia Plath

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  –Francis Bacon

What’s the point?

True scholarship, as any professional can tell you, does not spring out of the air.

It arises from a process of thinking out loud.

Of experimenting with ideas, thoughts, and possibilities…

… and of sharing those experiments with others, who in turn offer a dialogue of the same.

For evidence pick up any work of history and see the written acknowledgements – there are shared the names of the many who helped shape the ideas, provide links to good sources, and who offered critiques of the work-in-progress.. this latter being the most valuable help a friend or colleague can provide.

The blog is a perfect venue for such dialogue as it provides a space for text, conversation, and, thanks to the technology of the blog itself, a means to instantly share images, sounds, and sites.

What should I be doing?

Use the blog as a log of the thinking, conjectures, and analysis you are building over the course of the semester. There are three main aims for our blogs:

1. Use as a diary of thoughts and analysis on our assigned readings for the course. Use your entries to raise questions about the reading, comment on key analytical points offered by our texts’ own authors, and consider the ways in which our readings relate to issues across the semester and, indeed, beyond the walls of our own classroom.

2. A diary of your own research topic as you explore it, of the primary and secondary sources as well as resources (texts, images, video, soundbytes, etc.) that you investigate, as well as practical problems and your own exploration of ideas as you develop the project to its conclusion.

3. For comments on your classmates’ own posts (at least one comment per week). Sharing feedback, ideas, and the experiences of each individual as we are engaged in related projects on toys and childhood is the aim.

And uses that transcend our particular semester?

You may also consider your FSEM blog as the start of a personal E-Portfolio that transcends particular classes and which offers a creative record of your college projects at UMW. As such, it could also serve as a useful item for a resumè…

Examples? See Whitney Roberts’ Intertextuality and Robert Lynne’s Roblog.


Students are required to compose a weekly blog post as well as comment once a week upon another classmate’s blog. See syllabus for each week’s guide to the focus for that week’s blog posts (reading, research projects, or other…)

– Blog entries will be graded as A (3 points), B (2 points), C (1 point), or F (0 points). Entries should reflect an understanding and close reading of our texts, engagement with one’s research project, and thoughtful consideration of related topics and issues.

Note: there are 14 weeks to the semester and you are required to post at a weekly pace, with a minimum of 10 posts required for a passing grade. If you write more than ten posts, I will allow these later posts to replace a failing (0) grade on an earlier post. If a week (Mon-Sun) passes and you have not posted an entry, you will receive a zero grade for that week. You cannot write “extra” entries (e.g. two in the same week) later to make up for the zero, but if you write a weekly blog entry for more than 10 different weeks this semester, the earlier zero can be replaced.

Be sure to cite sources you use or build upon in your blog discussions. To do so, provide a weblink for any online resources (e.g. youtube video, website resource, blog, etc.) and, if you are referring to a published source provide a brief list of the works cited at the end of your post (format: Author’s Name, Title (Publication Location: Publisher, Date). Cite the appropriate pages in parenthesis within your own post’s text if you are quoting directly or paraphrasing a part of a published text or one of our readings for the course…  Note: failure to cite sources will result in a grade penalty.

Blog Grading Rubric

A  (3 pts)

An intellectually creative post that brings new perspectives to the conversation; these are marked by original thinking that goes beyond the knowledge shared in the readings or discussion and that offers fresh insights. Well-explored connections to other readings, sources, or content beyond our own assignments (e.g. readings outside the course that explore similar ideas, or to other content – e.g. visual culture, museum sites, etc.) is also rewarded.

B  (2 pts)

A post that shows solid engagement and a thoughtful discussion of our course readings and/or of your own research work in progress. Sources and outside links are properly cited.

C  (1 pt)

A post that touches upon our material, but which remains somewhat superficial and needs more development in terms of the analyses, insights, or engaged questions to be raised. Key aspects of the content in which you are exploring, in the case of our readings, may have also been overlooked. (Note: if you are receiving this grade or lower on your blog posts, please see your professor for guidance towards improvement.)

F (0 pts)

An entry with significant shortcomings related to engagement; a largely superficial discussion or missing blog entry for the weekly deadline.