Weekly Discussion Blog

Discussion Blog 
(20% of course grade) 

Beginning in the second  third week of the semester, you will be asked to compose one post on our class blog and write a lengthy response to someone else’s post by class time on Monday each week. I may also ask you for occasional extra posts related to something we are doing in class. The purpose of the blog is two-fold: (1) to give you a space for thinking through and working out difficult concepts; and (2) to provide a space for responding to one another’s thinking, extending discussions beyond the classroom. By the end of 15 weeks, your posts will help to shape the intellectual roadmap of the course.

These posts may be some of the most concentrated and challenging writing you do in this class, and they should be smartly and thoughtfully composed. Think of them as your critical offerings to the rest of the class, where "critical" means you are applying the terms, concepts, and theories of others to something you have read in order to understand it more fully. You might exchange informed opinions about the assigned readings, you might ask and answer questions or expand on issues we didn't cover in class, you might make applications of our texts to other texts you read or encounter, you might do a rhetorical analysis of another text or situation as a way of demonstrating one of our theories, or you might do other things. Whatever you do, try to help us understand how the questions raised by one critical problem are in conversation with other questions or problems, and help us to understand how one theorist helps you understand another theorist’s ideas, or extends or complicates them.

I am less interested in having you "camp" around certain issues or texts (i.e., "Does anyone really understand this stuff?" "I agree -- I sure don't understand it!" "Burke sucks!" "Shakespeare rocks!") than I am in having you work it out and work it through. What did reading the text contribute to your understanding of the topic or the course? How does this text relate to other readings in the course (from the week or the month prior)? What do you understand about something that has been perplexing you?

Be creative in your contributions to the blog, but please remember that this is a public space which requires tactfulness, civility, and diplomacy. That said, here are a few basic guidelines for our exchanges:
  • Posts should be somewhat polished. You are writing for a public audience, and this isn't Facebook. Paragraphing, spelling, and accuracy all matter in this context. 
  • Preferably, you would "post ahead" in anticipation of the week's readings; however, at times it will make more sense to post on the readings we already discussed. Both are fair game. 
  • Title your posts to give your readers context for what they are reading. Titles should reflect what you have thought or are trying to argue, rather than merely restate the name of the reading you are responding to. 
  • Academic integrity applies to the posts on this site, too. Please refer clearly to the text you are discussing, be accurate with names and titles, and include page numbers where relevant. If you refer to someone else's (published) reading of a text, you should mention this outside source.
  • Uploaded images and web texts will need some kind of attribution directly in your post; please help us to know what it is we are viewing or seeing.
  • Preferably, your posts and responses would not exceed 500 words; however, at times you may need to exceed this in order to fully articulate a critical problem. Feel free to do that. 
  • Posts and responses are due each Monday by the beginning of class time if you wish to receive credit for posts that week. (Note: The first 2 posts are not due until Wednesday, 9/5

Have fun with this. I will participate from time to time!

-Dr. Graban