American Literature, 1800-1915 (EL 266)

29 Sep 2005

Portfolio 1

An evaluative presentation of your participation in the online discussions.

More details below.

In general, you will be asked to print out the blog entries you wrote on the assigned readings (including the readings in Writing about Literature and the poetry we looked at early in the term.

I don't expect an entry on each individual poem that we looked at. One entry for the 8/30 poems and one for the 9/1 poems would be fine, but a single entry that refers to poems from both would also be acceptable.

One component of the blogging portfolio will ask you to demonstrate that you are participaing in online discussions with your peers. If you visit peer blogs and leave comments there, or if you post comments on your own blog in response to comments left by your peers (or me), submit those in order to get participation credit.


In general, I want you to 1) post a single long blog entry, where you include links to the pages on your own site and on the pages of your classmates and 2) print out all the relevant work (you can scrunch the typesize down in order to save space). Please do not print the authoring pages, which are what you see after you log in with your username and password. The authoring pages look like this:

Instead, print out the pages that are visible to your readers when they visit "" or "". They should not have "Movabletype Publishing Platform" on the top, they should instead have your name at the top.


Obviously, if you have changed the layout or colors on your blog, that's perfectly fine with me -- you don't need to make your blog look like the example. My point is to illustrate what the default weblog design currently looks like, and to differentiate from the authoring view.

Here are a few examples from another class. The content that this student has posted differs from the content you'll need to present, but you can get some idea of the form.

If you've been keeping up with the blogging homework, this assignment will be simply a matter of printing and compiling. Those of you who have had me in other classes, please look closely at these instructions -- I'm changing a few things. (Feel free to ask questions.) Towards the end of this posting, I answer some technical questions about trackbacks and creating links.

If you've fallen a bit behind, this assignment gives you the chance to catch up.

If you've fallen far behind, you have my sympathy, but no apologies. I've said several times that weblog entries will feel like a pointless chore if you start them only after the classroom discussion is already over.

Your portfolio is a collection of your best blog entries, representing your developing intellectual engagement with the concepts and skills we have examined.

The portfolio includes certain requirements, such as "Coverage" (that is, you should demonstrate that you have done the minimum blogging that I asked you to do -- a brief response to each assigned reading, with a few reflections) and "Depth" (a certain portion of your blog entries should demonstrate your ability to engage critically and at length with a difficult subject matter, far beyond a simple statement of a topic that you'd like to discuss in class).

Check the course outline page and see what's marked as "Discuss". For "Coverage" I would like to see an entry for most assigned readings; I would love to see an entry for each assigned section of readings (which means five entries for The Scarlet Letter, counting the comparison of Bartleby to The Customs House), but if you are planning to churn out two-sentence entries in the hours before the deadline, you might as well not bother -- I'd rather have a few in-depth entries than cookie-cutter last-minute entries.

I don't require you to include every blog entry you wrote -- if you only blogged two or three lines when we first disucssed a text, but you've got much more to say about it now, I'd rather see the more detailed entry.

For "Timeliness" I'd like you to include your best work online blogging that you completed before the deadline -- especially if you blogged early enough that you were able to participate in an online discussion before class.

Since blogging also involves commenting and linking, I'm asking you in your cover blog entry to link to entries in which you started or particpated in online conversations. In your cover blog, when appropriate, use the terms I've described below. (I am not giving you a magic number of entries for each category... that's for you to determine, given the "Coverage" requirement I've given you.)

  • The Cover Entry: Post a blog entry that contains links to all the entries that you plan to submit for your portfolio. For the benefit of an outside reader (that is, someone who doesn't know what a blogging portfolio is), introduce each of these links and explain why they are significant. (For example, see "Favorite Blog Entries: Journaling Mode.")
  • The Collection: Your blogging portfolio is supposed to be a collection of your best weblog entries. For the purposes of this class, a "good" blog entry is one that demonstrates your intellectual engagement with the assigned readings and student panels, and/or the questions raised by your peers. I will accept a bulleted list of entries, but please write for an audience that does not know or care about your homework requirements.
    1. Coverage. Ensure that you have blogged something substantial (for a C-level grade, at least a paragraph) that demonstrates your intellectual involvement with the assigned readings.
    2. Depth. Some of the "coverage" entries you selected above should demonstrate your ability to examine a concept in depth. Do some original online research, and link to the precise pages where you got ideas that helped you formulate your ideas. If you prefer to use a library book, quote a passage that you found interesting. Here are a few examples of a blog entry that goes above and beyond the standard "what I thought about the book" blog entry: Fitting in in the Diamond Age and Forced Reading-- Beloved Character.
    3. Interaction. Of the "Coverage" blogs entries included above, some should demonstrate your ability to use weblogs to interact with your peers. For instance, you might disagree (politely) with something a peer has written; link to and quote from the peer's blog entry, then carefully (and respectfully) explain where you disagree. Rather than hurl accusations in order to make the other person look bad, cheerfully invite the other person to explain their perspective. Quote passages from the texts your peer has cited, or do additional research that helps unveil the truth. (These may or may not include some entries you have already included among your "Depth" entries.)
    4. Discussions. Blogging feels lonely when you aren't getting any comments; you will feel more motivated to blog if you enjoy (and learn from) the comments left by your readers. Your portfolio should include entries (which may or may not overlap with either the "Interaction" or "Depth" entries) that demonstrate that your blog sparked a conversation that furthered your intellectual examination of a literary subject.
    5. Timeliness. A timely blog entry is one that was written early enough that it sparked a good online discussion, before the class discussion. A timely blog entry might also be an extra one written after the class discussion, if it reacts directly to something brought up in class. The blog entries that you write the night before the portfolio is due won't count in this category. And don't try to change the date in your blog entries -- I know that trick! ;)
    6. Xenoblogging. "Xeno" means "foreign," so xenoblogging (a term that I coined last term) means the work that you do that helps other people's weblogs. Your portfolio should include three entries (which may or may not overlap with the ones you have already selected for "Coverage") that demonstrate your willingness to contribute selflessly and generously to the online classroom community. Examples of good xenoblogging:
      • The Comment Primo: Be the first to comment on a peer's blog entry; rather than simply say "Nice job!" or "I'm commenting on your blog," launch an intellectual discussion; return to help sustain it.
      • The Comment Grande: Write a long, thoughtful comment in a peer's blog entry. Refer to and post the URLs of other discussions and other blog entries that are related.
      • The Comment Informative: If your peer makes a general, passing reference to something that you know a lot about, post a comment that offers a detailed explanation. (For example, the in the third comment on a recent blog entry about the history and culture of print, Mike Arnzen mentions three books that offer far more information than my post did.)
      • The Link Gracious: If you got an idea for a post by reading something somebody else wrote, give credit where credit is due. (If, in casual conversation, we credited the source of every point we make, we'd get little accomplished. But since a hyperlink is so easy to create, it's not good practice -- or good ethics -- to hide the source of your ideas.) If a good conversation is simmering on someone else's blog -- whether you are heavily involved or not -- post a link to it and invite your own readers to join in.
    7. Wildcard: Include one blog entry on any subject -- related to online writing or not, serious or not -- that you feel will help me evaluate your achievements as a student weblogger.
  • Print out your cover entry. If you would like to hand-write a note on this cover entry, I'd be happy to read and respond.
  • Print out the other entries you plan to include, including pages from peer weblogs where you participated in the online discussion.
  • On each entry you submit, hand-write a brief note that indicates which category or categories you feel this entry fulfills. Thus, the same entry might count for coverage, timeliness, and depth.
  • Please *do not* insert each page into a plastic sleeve. I want to be able to jot notes on your printouts.
  • I'd prefer that you use a single huge staple to keep it all together. A big metal clip will also probably be okay.
  • If you use a big paperclip, it will probably come undone, so please submit paperclipped work in a folder or envelope.
If you have questions about this assignment, please post them here. (If you aren't a student in my class, and you just want to comment on the basic idea of using weblogs in a classroom, I invite you to post on my academic weblog instead.)
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About this Portfolio....
Excerpt: Portfolio 1 -- American Literature, 1800-1915 (EL 266)...
Weblog: ElizabethLudovici
Tracked: September 26, 2005 01:57 AM
Blog Portfolio
Excerpt: Portfolio 1 -- American Literature, 1800-1915 (EL 266)...
Weblog: MeredithHarber
Tracked: September 28, 2005 07:18 PM

Reminder: If you want to build a link to another page, after you've created your entry, or while you are editing it, select the text that you want to turn into a link, click on the button that looks like three chain links (between the U and the envelope), and click it. A window will pop up, where you can type the URL you want.

Note that sending the reader to "" is like sending someone to the lobby of an apartment building without telling them what room to go to. It's more useful to send them to "", so look for that full, complete web address. (It might look like "" instead.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 26, 2005 04:19 PM

Dr. Jerz- I started my blog portfolio Cover Page with links etc. If you have a chance, could you please stop by my blog and let me know if I'm doing it correctly? I'd really appreciate it!

Posted by: LaurenEtling at September 26, 2005 07:31 PM

Dr. Jerz- Before we started our own blog pages, we posted on this site. How do I select just my text? I know how to highlight to make a link, but I am having a hard time just highlighting my text. Any hints?

Posted by: Ashley Holtzer at September 28, 2005 08:07 PM

Ashely, in Internet Explorer, sometimes the whole page highlights when you just want to highlight a small section. I actually switched to Firefox, in part beause of that problem. I suggest that you just copy the whole page, paste it into a word processor, and then from there copy the passage you want. It's a pain, but it works.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 29, 2005 08:46 AM
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