Getting Started

All of the writing you complete in the course will be on a blog (an abbreviation of the phrase “web log”). We will be setting up your blogs on the first day of class. Your blog is a working space for your reading, thinking and writing process. It is also a product, a portfolio that I will use to assess your learning in the course

Setting Up Your Blog
Go to WordPress.com. You will be prompted to choose an address, user name and password. For the address, you may use the following convention (first initial + last name + english or if you would like you may use a pseudonym (pen name, nom de plume, or alias). Once you have registered the blog, you will set up your blog using the  Get Started page. The default “theme” for your blog is Twenty Ten. We will talk about configuring and personalizing your blog during the first week of class

You will use a consistent page format for the blogs. Click Dashboard. Click Pages. Add the following pages:

  • About (For a brief bio). You are welcome to use your name or to not use your name
  • Book List (List the books you read in high school and that you have read in college that are worth knowing. Include the author and title and date of publication: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952).) Organize the list chronologically by date of publication. If you would like, you may divide the list into genres of writing
  • Commonplace Book (This is the page where you will gather quotations from your reading.)
  • Reading (This page will be a space for shorter writing tasks and pre-class writing exercises focused on careful and close and resourceful reading.)
  • Thinking (At the end of every week of class you will be reflecting on your work and your learning: thinking through a complex concept, a theoretical idea or a practical problem; or, making connections to other class material, other classes or to other relevant literary and cultural contexts).

We will go over the difference between pages (as opposed to posts) and widgets (such as a tag cloud or a list of links that you can use to customize your page and make it easier for a reader to navigate). If you would like to add images to your site or to postings, you will learn how simple this really is. I will show you the Word Press tutorials as well. The eleventh tutorial, titled “Insider Tips,” is helpful. The “kitchen sink” icon in the post/page editor, to take one example, reveals formatting options, enabling you to create headings and indent text, or to use the “paste from word” button that will carry over formatting from a word document.

Once you have created the blog, send an e-mail with the blog URL to me at mlong@keene.edu. I will post a link on the course blog so that everyone has access to your writing. If you are having any problems working with  your blog, or would like to talk with me about your blog, please make an appointment with me.

Managing your Blog All of the writing you complete in this course will be posted to your blog. You are required to complete all of the writing tasks that I post on the course blog to receive a passing grade in the course. You must do all of the writing on time. I read every word you write to prepare for class and your writing will be the subject of our class sessions.

Here are some suggestions as you make choices about organizing content:

  • use categories and tags to organize your posts. These features will allow a reader to follow threads in your thinking and writing more readily across different posts. Most WP themes list the categories and tags in a sidebar or in a tag cloud;
  • build a list of relevant links. The “Blogroll” on your site might list sites with materials useful for students of language and literature. The goal is to establish a set of links for readers seeking pathways into the world of English studies.

During the first week of class we will look over the WP dashboard and the various features of the WP platform. However the best way to learn how to use WP is to experiment. As you will see, changing the look and organizational structure of your blog is simple.