E-Mail Archive

This email-archive is an accessible place to access the class follow ups and reminders. It will be especially useful when you do your self-evaluations at midterm and at the conclusion of the course.

December 1

I appreciate everyone’s editorial feedback this week! If you were not in class for Wednesday’s editorial workshop, please complete the editorial work so that everyone in the class receives feedback on their essays—including you.

Here is a look ahead, and a check list for the final weeks of our course:

  1. Complete Editorial Feedback

After you log in to your Hypothes.is account. Open up the English 402 Group. Then record your editorial comments on the essays. I’ll be reading the peer comments and offering editorial feedback in Hypothes.is on Friday and Saturday. 

Look over the comments on your essay over the weekend or next week. There are some excellent observations and suggestions that will give you insights into how readers are responding to your work. These insights will lead you through a productive revision process as you continue writing and revising for the final portfolio. The Workshops page has the link to the Google Doc that has the editorial comments from class son Monday.

Two general comments I want to share after considering Zoey’s essay and then talking with Michael after class.

First, many of you have written essays that have central or controlling images (in some cases that function as metaphors) that might be used more explicitly. I used the example of Monday of Zoey’s broken swing in her Texas essay:

it was an almost broken swing beside our house. It was near the carport so there weren’t any windows that overlooked it, so I could be completely alone. In a family where I was nitpicked and if seen relaxing I would be asked to clean or be told I was lazy, it was a nice break to be away and people rarely thought of me there. Some of the biggest things happened to me on that swing. I planned how the person I had a young school girl crush on was going to propose to me, I cried and prayed for life to improve for me, I held hands with my crush, I had my first kiss, I would write stories, and so many more. I reflect now on those silly experiences with a smile on my face, it was a safe spot for me.

Second, most all of you are still grappling with the core challenge of the literary essay: how are my experiences relevant to the idea and the reader’s engagement with that idea. A passage from Ian G’s essay do what many of you are still working toward:

If this is the story I’m watching what does it offer me? Everyone wants to escape the barriers imposed by reality but doing so successfully is another thing entirely. To often stories that promise liberation, weather practical, political, or metaphysical, fail to invoke genuine freedom, or worse, pass off the illusion of it while reinforcing the same barriers it claims to circumvent.

Note the hinge at the word “everyone” that opens into the broader significance of the personal story. This brings to mind Nicole Wallack’s description of this movement in an essay:

Moments of reflection are “the quintessential essayistic gesture, when a writer ceases offering evidence to consider its significance and implications for the reader’s question––so what?’” (203)

How it is possible “for an individual writer to engage to engage with sociological, cultural, and historical questions without making a false choice between two undesirable ends: to see social issues as solely as simply a larger version of one’s own autobiography, or to believe that one must mask one’s presence in order to create a sense of authority or objectivity about issues that are shared by others” (72)

  1. Prepare for Reading Next Week

By Friday at noon send Mark the title of the essay you will be reading next week. Make sure that you read the essay aloud to make sure that your reading falls between 12-15 minutes. If your essay is longer, you may need to abridge the essay for the reading.

  1. Looking ahead to Final’s Week

Wednesday December 14

  • No class meeting
  • Final versions of the Essay Sequence and Final Portfolio on blog. Self-Evaluation (and instructions for completing the self-evaluation) will be circulated on the last day of classes.

As I explained in class, the Essay Portfolio is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned this semester. Make sure that you include all of the elements in the portfolio and that you consider all of the essays you have written as well as the blog theme itself to best represent your accomplishments as a nonfiction writer. Along with the self-evaluation, the portfolio will be the material I will use to determine your final grade in the course.

Finally, as you review and revise your work for the final portfolio you might use the English 402 E-Mail Archive as a checklist to make sure that you have completed all of the required work for the course.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Or if you would like to sit down and talk, I am happy to meet with you next week or on Reading Day, Monday December 12. Be well, and enjoy the weekend.

November 22

Thank you for interesting conversations about your essay sequences this week. As you proceed with the writing, and the process of revising and developing what you have written, keep in mind the questions of motive and idea that I asked you to think about before the conferences:

  • What is your motive for the essay sequence? The motive will make visible the significance of the essay. It is the invitation for a reader to care. It is the movement that you make in your thinking that shows why something is more complex than what we might think; that shows how something is less obvious than it might first appear; that makes visible and elaborates a contradiction or tension or mystery; that shows how by making something more explicit or situating something in a particular social or historical or cultural context;
  • How you are approaching the challenge of working with lived experience (anecdotes and narratives of the past distilled through the alembic of memory) in an essay that is at the same time organized around the exploration or development of an idea?

My advice has been to consider the idea as an invitation to a reader to move from the simple to the complex, from the implicit to the explicit, from the obvious to the less obvious. There are other movements in the idea-based essay. These include foregrounding a tension or contradiction or unresolved mystery; an ambiguity or a subject or idea that can be approached/understood in more than one way; a larger domain or phenomena that can be approached from your focus on a smaller example; an apparently insignificant idea that is actually more significant than it seems.

In our conference conversations we took up questions and concerns that I will share here because they may be useful to some of you as you continue with your work:

  • The question of where to begin Let’s recall what Nicole Wallack reminded us about beginnings. “Beginnings of essays are contractual as well as invitational: to succeed they must communicate to readers what questions, concerns, and ideas the essay will explore, and they must tempt readers to linger for the unfolding” (79). We referenced in class the first sentence of Drew Lanham’s Birding While Black Or consider the analogy David Gessner uses in Learning to Surf or Read David Foster Wallace’s beginning of Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise. In each of these case there is not necessarily a statement of purpose or thesis statement; at the same time, in each of these cases a reader does proceed with a kind of “contract” and “invitation”;
  • The word count/page length of the project: The guidelines for the essay sequence advise that the sequence will be “6,000 to 8,000 words, or about 24-32 double-spaced pages.” This works out to about 1000 words or 4 pages per week for the six-week period you have to complete this work (November 1–December 14). While this is a reasonable recommended length in an upper-level writing course, keep in mind that the quality of the writing is more important than the length of the essay. Some of the sequences will be longer, some shorter;
  • The question of genre (1): This is one of the threshold problems for writers of literary essays. We approached this problem through considering Jake’s draft What is a Video Game?, a “definition essay” that will open his sequence, as well as in Aidan’s Essay Sequence #1 – Working Draft. The problem in both cases is more specifically the question of what we might identify here as literary. For Jake, how might the informational impulse here be incorporated into the idea at the center of the essay sequence (video games and self-care?) through the evidence and stylistic choices of the author that make up an identifiable and engaging writerly presence? Aidan is working in an informational mode that even at the sentence-level is moving away from the public presence. Consider the following examples: “Earlier on, a distinction was made between ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental health’, but it’s also important to point out the difference between those terms and the concept of ‘mental disorder”;

    This raises the question of another “troubled boundary,” in this case between personal writing and academic or critical writing. Kiana’s recollections in The Hemlock Home focus well the question as she is building her own experiences and feelings into a public dialogue about the meanings of home and house. Note well how well she is moving out from her own recounting of personal experiences of a childhood home—opening and framing with the J. T. Bickford’s novel Scandal, the reference to the story (and film) of Harry Potter, and the use of language from Joyce Carol Oates to describe the transformation of house to home. There are also openings into what we called earlier in the course “distance”:

HOME truly is where the heart is, no matter how cliché it may sound.

Heart, in this case, can mean many things: personality, individuality, warmth, presence, comfort. A home lacking any, all, and more of these things is not a home; it’s a house. Some experience homes through different parts of their lives, whether they have moved all of their life and only just found their real home after the fourth move, have found an alternative home through school, or are still trying to find one that brings them the consolation they need (in which case, I hope they find it soon). 

  • The question of genre (2): Mia’s draft essay raises a significant question about genre boundaries. My comment to Mia in class had to do with “surfacing” the dimension of the essay that register’s the writer’s mind in the world. In our conference Mia and I talked about a way to do this is through “metacommentary” on, in this case, the playground scene. Perhaps the authorial presence comes through more directly in the notes sections, where the author speaks more directly as the author so that the fiction is not just unfolding but is subject to the commentary it includes that makes it more than fiction. (This kind of authorial presence is of course used by fiction writers.)

Nonfiction (that is, not fiction) is the term we are working with, it is what we have—and more’s the pity. For the problem with the term, as we talked through during the opening weeks of the course, is that the term refers what the writing is not. A positive definition, on the other hand, accounts for the familiar modes we associate with nonfiction: autobiography, biography, diaries, letters, history, philosophy, social and political commentary, the literature of travel and place, nature writing, science writing, humor, and so on—all of which has been defined and studied as literature or has served as literary models for what we call “creative” writing.

When we talk about “creative” writing we most often have in mind fiction, poetry, and drama. These forms of “creative” writing are genres that are by definition poetic or fictive: made or constructed from the imagination. But this kind of talk does not make room for the essay. It rather positions the essay as other. Another way to think about this problem, then, is to consider the proposition that the structural and/or stylistic differences between fiction and nonfiction matter less than the assumptions readers bring to reading texts. We assume that the essay (as the term nonfiction signals) is derived from and represents independent if not verifiable facts, whether the author is concerned with private experiences or public occasions. By these lights, readers of nonfiction read with the truth in mind: and the text seeks to tell the so-called “truth” even as the writer goes about shaping, interpreting, and recreating the subject of the essay. Essay writers, in this sense, are attempting to get at what lies beneath, or within, the myriad and inexhaustible details that make up our everyday lives. One way to refine this argument is to call on the motive of the memoir, a subjective genre that seeks to make visible and interpret a personal past in contrast to the objective (or at least impersonal) collective motive of the historian who calls on an impersonal and ostensibly objective point of view.

  • Essays are more than personal Nicole Wallack’s claim is that “no matter how visibly and often writers figure their presence in the first-personal singular, essays are not ‘personal’” (167).  What she means is that the writer, attached “fiercely” to an idea, is using stories of lived experience (narrative, anecdote) to engage the imagination in an effort to make “what was once private more public, what was once personal hold the possibility for transcendence” (170). For most of the featured writers whose essays we studied this semester the reflective moments provided the link to this larger purpose. One instance of this kind of reflective moment is in Leah’s Literary Love:

The problem is, when you look to books and movies for examples of love, and begin to hope for those kinds of situations, the expectations are literally set for the impossible. Literary romance for young adults tells you that love isn’t awkward or work but something that comes with ease. It tells you that your crush likes you back, even if you are from different worlds. Girls are taught that boys will make the first move, they will treat you right, and even if they do something wrong a romantic gesture will solve it all; putting the expectations on the women to forgive and accept the man back even though he may not deserve it.  

The other way to do this we have discussed this semester is by the strategy of “de-familiarization,” or creating space “to mediate on the self’s strangeness in its ways of encountering the world” (173). As a writer becomes more present to herself and the world the reader, too, is invited to recognize a similar feeling when what we thought was simple appears more complex, or what we thought was familiar becomes unfamiliar.

As I said in class, and have said to many of you in conversation, the way to address these questions and problems is to draft the essays in your sequence. For in getting drafts written will give you the material to better understand what you are doing in the sequence—and then doing what you are doing well.

Please take these comments as feedback on your essays as all of you, to one degree or another, are grappling with the issues and questions I have taken the time to write out above. I’ll be looking for how you address these areas in the final version of your writing sequence.

Have a wonderful break—festive, restful, productive. I’m looking forward to returning to our work and turning our attention to sentences and style during the penultimate week of class, Week 14. Remember, too, you will be choosing an essay to read to the class by December 2. (The Reading will be during the final week of the semester, Week 15.)

November 19

Dear class,

In the individual conferences scheduled for next week we will be talking about your first essay—and any other writing you have completed so far for the essay sequence. I need your essay to be posted on your blog no later than 8AM Monday morning.

To prepare for our time together please consider the following questions:

  • Motive What is your motive for the essay sequence? The motive will make visible the significance of the essay. It is the invitation for a reader to care. It is the movement that you make in your thinking (and writing) that shows why something is more complex than what we might think; that shows how something is less obvious than it might first appear; that makes visible and elaborates a contradiction or tension or mystery; that shows how by making something more explicit or situating something in a particular social or historical or cultural context;
  • Idea How you are approaching the challenge of working with lived experience (anecdotes and narratives of the past distilled through the alembic of memory) in an essay that is at the same time organized around the exploration or development of an idea?
  • Evidence If you are drawing on personal experiences, in what ways are you broadening (or embedding) this kind of evidence in relation to social, historical, and cultural concerns?
  • Challenges How are you challenging yourself as a writer? What challenges are you facing as a writer so far in the sequence project? Be specific. A list of 3 challenges will focus our conversation.

I’m looking forward to reading your essay on Monday morning and to talking with you on Monday afternoon or on Tuesday.

October 27

Dear class,

In class this Wednesday I offered a review of the formal and conceptual dimensions of the literary essay that we have studied together for the past nine weeks. This review focused especially on 1) what you are doing this week (completing the reading and writing about an essayist of your choice) and 2) the essay sequence that you are going to be undertaking during the remaining weeks of the course. Thank you, too, for the comments on Jamaica Kincaid’s remarkable short essay “In History.”

Looking ahead:

  • This Friday: your descriptive literary commentary essay is due. I appreciate the time you have spent getting to know the essay writing of an accomplished writer as well as your efforts crafting a commentary that describes the accomplishment of the writer’s essays. The close study of a successful writer’s work offers innumerable rewards for readers and writers alike
  • Writing workshops next week: Bring two or three working ideas for your essay sequence. We will be doing an idea workshop on both Monday and Wednesday.
  • Reading next week: Monday we have a featured writer, David Gessner. Log in to our English 402 page on Hypothes.is and annotate his essay Learning to Surf.       

Wednesday we have a featured essay by Scott Russell Sanders, Under the Influence. Log in to our English 402 page on Hypothes.is and annotate his essay. Consider especially how Sanders manages the relationship between what he calls “private grief” and “public scourge.” We might also consider how he moves toward and ends the essay for an exemplary instance of managing the problem of where to conclude

We have some really interesting commentaries on the process of nonfiction writing that may be useful to you as well, by John McPhee and Tim Bascom

Introduction to the Essay Sequence: once you complete essay #4 you will be directing your mind toward a series of essays that explore an idea (or ideas) and to make that exploration comprehensible and compelling to others. At this point you should be actively exploring possible areas of inquiry. A couple of examples surfaced in class. I suggest that you begin keeping notes in a journal as you think through possible ideas. The Prospectus that is due on November 7th is a crucial stage in the process and the further along you are the more rewarding the writing will be—both for you and for your readers

A bit more specificity about the essay sequence: At Ian’s excellent suggestion, I have clarified with more specificity the nature of the project on the Essay Sequence page:

This is a major writing project. The minimum number of essays will be three, though the number of essays will really depend on the nature of the project. In word count, you should be writing between 6,000 to 8,000 words, or about 24-32 double-spaced pages. So for example a sequence might be three 2000 word essays or eight 1000 word essays.

In my experience as a writer and as a teacher of writing, it is difficult to forecast the number of pages or words of each essay until you have completed a substantial body of writing. So I would suggest that you make a writing schedule for this project so that by the end of November, at the latest, you have a draft of the essays in the project. This will give you the time and space in your busy schedules to reflect, develop, revise, and edit your essay sequence.

The essay portfolio: A question was raised in class about the Essay Portfolio and plagiarism given the requirement to include at least two essays that you have written (and/or published) over the past four years as English majors at Keene State College. As I explained, there is no violation of the KSC Academic Honesty Policy (submitting an assignment, completed for one class, in any other class without explicit permission from the faculty) as I am explicitly asking for you to include examples of your most meaningful and rewarding written work

Have a restful and productive weekend,

Mark

October 20

Thank you for your contributions to our conversation about the featured writers this week: David Foster Wallace, Annie Dillard, and Michael Branch. (After class I had a look at the Urban Dictionary that, as Mike says, lists 261 synonyms for fart. Who knew!) Among the strategies in this essay is the embedding of the synonyms.

Looking Ahead:

  • At the beginning of class I announced the extension for Essay #4. It is now due a week from tomorrow, on Friday October 28
  • If you have not returned to essay #3 following our conferences to develop your first draft, please do so. And let me know when you have generated a new version
  • For those of you who have fallen behind or have not taken up my invitations to revise and rework and strengthen what you have done in the course so far, please, get to this now, as the essay sequence is going to be intensive and you want to be ready to take it on as your primary work in this class
  • Have a look at Kiana, Leah, and Zoey’s new versions of essay #3! And remember 1) to include a new reflection on the changes you have made and 2) add tags to your posts if you have not already. The other thing you can do (see Kiana’s blog) is use the “caption” option when composing a post to add a summary statement of the essay as we see in the essays published in magazines or journals
  • Next week we will be continuing our work “reading as writers.” The two chapters we will be reading in Nicole Wallack’s book will give you detailed examples of this kind of attention and literacy. It is best learned directly, though, and the best way to learn is practice. So please bring your observations to class and share them
  • Mathew Salesses and Jamaica Kincaid (who Wallack considers) are our featured writers for next week. Remember that the reading you are doing right now for Essay #4 is precisely this kind of reading. Hence it is likely that your writing is going to be stronger if you have put in the time learning to read this way
  • Also ee the “Notes for Reading” on the Week 9 page. I include an excerpt from David Foster Wallace’s essay and a former student adapting this style, specifically what Wallack calls ““making mundane things interesting to read, even in their uneventfulness.”
  • Finally, on Wednesday next week we will be turning our attention to your essay sequence and collection. The Prospectus for this project will be due Monday November 7. As we talked about in class, the more you can be thinking about this project (keeping a list of possible areas of interest) the better!

Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a good rest of the week, and be well,

October 14

Our conferences this week were a pleasure. Thank you for your attention, thoughtful comments, and continuing motivation.

I’m looking forward to gathering as a class next week. And I have posted the weekly schedules for weeks 8, 9, 10, and 11 on the course site. These weeks will take us through the submission of your prospectus for the essay sequence on Monday November 7.

Of course there much to do before then. For next week, specifically, taking the opportunity to reflect and revise the work you have completed is an invitation I am hoping each of you will take up:

  • Many of you left the conference with ideas for reworking and developing a new version of essay #3
  • Many of you left the conference with ideas about refining and updating your blog (considering a more functional theme, including tags on your posts, adding images and hyperlinks)

I will be reviewing your blogs on Monday and making notes on your progress.

Please note as well,

  • Read the essays and commentary posted on the Week 8 page. I have moved the due date for essay 4 to Friday October 21. Enjoy the essays. Our reading and discussion will be oriented around (with the insights of Nicole Wallack) the art of reading essays, and becoming more skilled at learning from reading as writers. As far as your own writing, we will be doing an essay 4 “check in” this coming week
  • Week 9 will continue our focus on reading essays as writers. We will undertake this work with the guidance of Nicole Wallack’s thoughts about reading essays
  • Week 10 will continue our study of featured writers with a focus on form and structure; we will also be reviewing the essay sequence that will keep you thinking and writing through the end of the semester. (As we discussed in our conference conversations, do be thinking about the possibilities for your essay sequence over the next few weeks)

Be in touch of you have any questions, or would like to talk. Have an excellent weekend and I will see you on Monday,

October 6

Dear class,

Below is the schedule for the conferences next week. I will post this in our e-mail archive on the course web site as well. We will not be meeting as a class due to the conferences.

Thank you for preparing for the conference:

  • The weekly timeline pages offer a ready-made checklist for your work
  • Please use the editorial comment document to develop a revision strategy for the three essays in your portfolio.

    On Wednesday we talked about Wallack’s chapter 5 and the essays by John Lane. I suggested that for everyone your primary concern as a writer is developing your “public thinking presence.” We talked about form, (re)considering the opening and closing strategy of your essays, and the relation between the proximate (your mind at work) and the distant (the world outside your head) including the social/cultural/historical situation in which you are writing
  • Send me your self-reflection letter before we meet.

The conferences will be in Parker 309. If you have any questions or need assistance before we meet, I’m here.

English 402 Individual Conference Schedule

Monday October 10

2:00 Leah

2:30: Robert

3:00 Grace

3:30 Michael

Tuesday October 11

2:00 Kiana

4:00 Mia

Wednesday October 12

1:00 Ian H.

1:30 Aidan

2:00 Zach

2:30 Riley

3:00 Zoey

3:30 Kali

4:00 Ian G.

4:30 Jake

September 28

We covered a lot in class today—or at least it felt that way to me! We are gaining momentum and are on the move from the study of the idea of the essay to experimenting with your own ideas and expanding the scope of your own essay writing.

Below is a list of reminders on the work ahead as we finish out the week and turn to our two class meetings next week:

  • Put in some revisionary (and remedial) time on your second essay, especially if you have yet to do so: 1) focus your attention on finding a “kick-ass” title, 2) on writing a summary sentence for the essay (like I did on my recent piece on hyperlinking, Houses and Chairs), and 3) add a category and tags to your post, as I explained today, as a heuristic to help you gain more control over your idea and scope of the essay itself;

  • Jump on the Google Doc that has my written comments on your second essays. My reading, and the commentaries I wrote in response to what I read, was time well spent–and a genuine pleasure. Remember that this document will live and be accessible on the Editorial Assistant Page of the course blog. Do take the opportunity to first gain some insight from an interested reader (me in this case) about your essay; but just as important, carve out some time to read the essays of your classmates and consider any take-aways from descriptive commentaries that I wrote in response. I am confident that a close reading of the essays and commentaries will pay enormous dividends for you as the course develops;

  • Go to the end of the Google Doc. Scroll to the end. And read the list that I wrote that summarizes some of the things we can learn from your essays as you move ahead to composing your essays this week. The list is under the header “Preliminary Considerations for Composing and Revising First, Second, and Third Essays”;
  • Post your essay by the end of the day Friday. This is your first “literary” essay in the course and it will feature you, as we talked about in class today, “showing up.” What choices will you make so that your readers find themselves in the presence of a real person seeking to use language (and the form of the essay) to think originally and engage deeply with your self and the world. I suggest writing your way into this task, using the activity of essaying I wrote that lives on the home page of our course site:

Essaying is an activity of attention and openness—to your own thinking, and to the myriad ways your thinking takes shape as thought on a page; to the often dim contours of your physical and emotional life; to the memories you construct (and reconstruct) as you make sense of what you call your past; to the building of the larger story, the emergence of a sequence of events that conjure a history, marshaling language to produce the impression (the illusion) that through writing worlds past may become present again; to the world around you, as you begin to see, again and again, that there is more and more than meets the eye .

The editorial process to follow will be outlined next week when we meet on Monday. I will also be setting up times for individual conferences.

  • Read for next week’s classes. Everyone is a discussion partner. That means that we all want to show up with observations, insights, and questions when we gather in Huntress Hall next Monday afternoon. (The sections to read are listed on the Week 6 page, though you are welcome to read ahead!)

Have a good weekend, and be in touch if you need to chat or have any questions

September 14 2022

Based on your feedback I have made a number of updates/changes to our course site, and I want to put on your radars a list of reminders about what you need to do to enhance the course flow and your learning.

Updates and Changes to the Course Blog

  • The “Recent Posts” list no longer appears on the sidebar. All the posts are on the page “From the Blogs”;
  • There are new web sites in the “For Reading” list, including Assay, Brevity, and Fourth Genre. I encourage you to browse some of the essays and, if you read something you really admire, let me know and we can share it with the rest of the class;
  • At Ian H’s suggestion, I added dates to the weekly timeline schedules
  • At Ian G’s suggestion, I put up the writing project descriptions and the deadlines for the essays (mostly Fridays)
  • The discussion partners are set through week 5 on the Timeline
  • The Reading Notes Page includes discussion partner notes to date, with excellent passages, as well as the list of terms we generated in class on Monday.

Your To Do List

The list includes some reminders and a new item, using excerpts when you make a post on your blog

  • Clean up your theme Delete the “Hello World” posts (Zach and Michael); Make your about (or about the author) a page and not a post (Kiara); consider your theme for ease of use by a reader, reconsider your blog title and essay title (a process that can go on as you become more comfortable with the rhetorical challenge of representing your work on the web; 
  • License your blog By next week. Follow the instructions here. Leah is leading the way, as you will see on the her blog False Pretenses.
  • Include an Excerpt when you post an essay. Go back to your first essay. Open edit. Click on Post in the editing sidebar. Then scroll down to “Excerpt” and write (or cut and paste) either the first sentence or a sentence that suggests what the post/essay is about.

Once you do this, the post blocks on “From the Blogs” on our course site will capture the essence of the post in this view rather than what we now have, incomplete sentences. Making an excerpt is also a useful conceptual exercise for you as a writer. This is because it ask you to condense your essay into a single sentence that captures what the essay is doing or saying.

September 8 2022

Work on Your Blog

In addition to the reading for next week, spend some time with Word Press. Learn how to use the content management system to organize and present your writing. Use the tutorials Title Tagline and Theme, Create Manage License, and Before you Click Publish. By next week, you should have an “About” page, so a reader has a sense of who is writing, and a Creative Commons license.

Here are a few blogs from former students in this class: The Caged Bird Sings, A Splendid Isolation, Current Swell, and Degringolade’s Glade. Consider these examples to inspire your own ideas about designing your own course site. If you want to do something on your blog, and you can’t figure out how to do it, be in touch. We can work together.

Update your Titles

Update the title of your course blog, as well as the title of your first blog post for the class on the experience of writing essays in school. Writing blog posts or short-form essays in the public domain poses interesting questions about assigning titles. First, note that the essays you write are to be posted as blog posts (not on a page, as it will not be syndicated); second, note that “Hello World” is the default post on your theme and should be deleted; third, note that the name of your blog appears under contributors. You want to find a title for your blog (You can change the title as you become clearer about what you are doing with your blog.)

When you reconsider your title, and browse the essays by your classmates, you may be motivated to revise your essay. I encourage you to revise the earlier essays as the course unfolds and you gain more perspective on and control over what you are doing with your writing

Finally, as I explained in class, your blog is listed in the sidebar on the course site under Contributors. Readers may click on your site title to navigate to your blog. Your blog posts are automatically syndicated to the course blog as well. Your most recent post will appear under “Selected Essays.” Your blog posts will also appear on the “From the Blogs” page on the course site.

Look Ahead to Week Three

Enjoy the Reading. Take notes. And annotate the digital texts (Mukherjee and Emerson) using Hypothes.is. I’ll see you in the margins!

Finally, as you read for next week, you will be learning from writers about the essay. And your second piece of writing will organize your thinking about the nature, purpose, and form of the essay. We will talk about the possibilities for this essay during class next week. This essay will be around 1500 words, or six double-spaced pages (and will be due on Sunday September 18th). It may help to think about the essay as a narrative (story) about what you are learning with an eye on sharing what you have learned for a reader who might be interested in the literary and cultural history of the essay.