American Literature I (Fall, 2004; Seton Hill University)

Due: Ex 2-3 (Re-assessment)

Review what you wrote for Ex 1-1, and reflect on your progress during the course. Length: one page.

  1. What is the one most helpful thing that I did in this course?
  2. What is the one accomplishment of which you are most proud? (Something vague like "Getting a good grade!" doesn't count. Be specific.)
  3. Where should I spend more time teaching?
  4. Where should you have spent more time learning?
  5. Where should I spend less time teaching?
  6. Where might you have spent less time learning?

Due: Ex 2-3 (Re-assessment)

Due: Paper 2 Revision

Due: Portfolio 2

Due: Ex 2-2 (Peer Reviews)

Originally scheduled for Nov 22, but delayed along with all the other paper-related activities.

As several students mentioned in class during the Nov. 17 draft workshop, we have no shortage of good ideas in this class. Getting good ideas down in writing is no easy task, but I've been happy with the results I've seen so far.

The revised draft of Paper 2 is still due Dec. 6.

For Exercise 2-2:

1) Read and comment on a classmate's most recent draft of paper 2. Photocopy the commented paper and bring both copies to class. (I will collect one copy to use in order to evaluate your grade on this exercises, and pass one copy on to the student whose paper you critiqued.)

2) Write a one-page response to your peer's paper, in which you focus on alternate viewpoints that you feel your classmate successfully addressed, and/or alternate viewpoints that your classmate did not address. Again, please produce two copies -- give them both to me, and I will pass one on to the student author.

a) Watch especially for uncited references to what "some people" say; extreme claims that use words such as "all", "every," "none," and "never"; and unsupported comparisons -- especially references to "the best" or "the most" or "the least" (since such comparisons imply that you have compared at least three items -- e.g., one that is "good," one that is "better," and one that is "best").

b) In most such cases, the student simply needs to rephrase... instead of saying "The best way to explain X is Y," it is more accurate to say, "A productive way of explaining X is Y..." or "If we assume that Y is an acceptable explanation of X, then we must also consider the effects of A, B, and C." These sort of complex logical relationships are the signs of advanced critical thinking.

Due: Quiz 2-4

Due: Paper 2 Draft

Due: Ex 2-1 (Thesis and Bibliography)

Due: Quiz 2-2

Due: Quiz 2-1

Due: Paper 1

Due: Quiz 1-3

Due: Portfolio 1 (Rescheduled)

Your online participation is evaluated mostly by your portfolio -- a collection of your best blog entries, that represent your developing intellectual engagement with the literary works we have studied.

  • 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 a literary work, and/or the questions raised by your peers. Please do not say "This blog entry fulfills portfolio requirement #1". 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 each of the literary works we have studied in class. You can group shorter poems together into a single blog entry, if you like.
    2. Depth. Three of the "coverage" entries you selected above should demonstrate your ability to examine a literary work in depth. Do some 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. (This is good practice for writing research papers.) Here are a few examples of a blog entry that goes above and beyond the standard "what I thought about the story" blog entry: Fitting in in the Diamond Age and Forced Reading-- Beloved Character.
    3. Interaction. Of the "Coverage" blogs entries included above, three 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 literary works your peer is discussing, or do 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 three 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 subjet.
    5. Xenoblogging. "Xeno" means "foreign," so xenoblogging (a term that I just coined) 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. (Since a link is so easy to create, it's not good blogging 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.
    6. Wildcard: Include one blog entry on any subject -- literary or not, serious or not -- that you feel will help me evaluate your achievements as a student weblogger.
  • The Printout: As with every exercise, I ask that you submit a printed copy, bound with staples or in a three-ring binder. I will treat your submissions with reasonable care, but if pages fall out, I won't look at them -- so please do not use paper clips (even large ones).
    • While your cover blog entry should not specifically state "This entry fulfills portfolio requirement 3," I do want you to note, in pen or pencil, on the printout of your cover blog, which entry fulfills which requirement. Thus, if your cover blog refers to an entry called "Bartleby and Capitalism," and you want to submit it as "Coverage," "Depth," and "Interaction", hand write that on the printout of your blog.
    • On the printout of each individual blog entry that you are submitting, mark in pen or pencil which portfolio requirements that entry is fulfilling.
    • When submitting a comment that you posted to a classmates's blog entry, print out the whole entry, including your peer's original posting and all the comments that resulted; highlight your own contributions (with a highlighter or simply by circling them).
    • If put your pages in a binder, please don't use plastic sleeves for each individual page. The reason I want a printed copy is so that I can write comments on them easily, and it's a pain to have to fish the pages out of those plastic sleeves, scribble "Good question!" or a smiley face in the margin, and then stuff it back in.
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.)

Update: Rescheduled from 06 Oct. See also Blogging Tips.

Due: Ex 1-3 (Revision)

Due: Ex 1-2 (Close Reading)

Due: Ex 1-1 (Self-assessment)

  1. Why are you taking this course? What do you hope to get out of it?
  2. How do you feel about reading? How do you feel about writing?
  3. When you have spare time, how likely are you to read something? What's the last book you read for pleasure?
  4. What else should I know that will help you learn?
Length: 1 page. (All exercises should be printed out and handed in on the due date.)