Purpose: The purpose of keeping a blog this semester is two-fold. First, becoming a strong writer in different genres is important to your success. The more experience you have with different forms of writing, the stronger and more adaptable your writing skills will become. Blogs are oh-so-prevalent in today’s society: corporations, celebrities, authors, chefs, moms have them. Learning to write for an online community will not only teach you a new genre but will give you experience with new skills that may be of great benefit for you in your future career. Secondly, this blog reminds us of the growing importance of our online presence and its lasting effects. As you write, consider the larger conversation you are joining, not only with other students in this class (and with me), but with other readers, thinkers, and scholars of horror and monster fiction.
Moreover, the last decade has seen a growing interest in the production and consumption of speculative fiction, science fiction, horror, as well as the growing popularity of genre in television and film. Too often literature courses stay within the realm of the classroom: This blog asks you to engage with the lessons and concepts we discuss in our classroom and apply them to the world outside the classroom. At its best, this blog will serve as a sounding-board for your ideas generated by the course material, where you can consider how the concepts we discuss in class—monstrosity, haunting, horror—are found in the “real world.” The “Monster Blog” should help you become familiar with the literary and cultural trends in genre fiction, and identify how the tradition continues to linger and influence our zeitgeist, and contemporary literary and cultural productions.
Writing your “Monster Blog” will, of course, be a different enterprise than writing your midterm paper or final blog presentation. Consider the differences each genre imposes on the writer: How is blog writing different than writing an academic paper or a Facebook post, for example? While blogs are considered to be informal spaces of expression, please remember to keep your writing professional and academically inclined. Keep in mind that this blog will be available for public consumption and, as such, should be considered part of a larger academic conversation centered on the questions guiding this class: What are monsters? Why do we create them? What cultural currency do monsters hold within the American imagination? What identity groups have been deemed monstrous and how is monstrosity depicted in literature and cultural productions?
Setting up Your Blog:
- Choose one of the following hosting sites: WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc. There are many others, but these are the ones I recommend.
- Choose a professional and meaningful title and subtitle for your blog.
- Choose an appropriate theme.
- Add at least the following pages to your blog: “Home,” “About,” “Blog,” “Links.” “Links” create a blogroll and yours should include other blogs (i.e.: your classmates’) that cover similar topics.
- Compose a detailed and relevant “About Page” that discussed who you are as well as what the blog is focusing on. This will change as your ideas about our course form throughout the semester.
- For each post, compose a meaningful title written for an audience larger than our class.
Instructor Blog: A large portion of our work this semester will be via the “Monster Blog.” As such, I will also be participating in this digital experiment. I will be updating my course blog regularly, and providing required readings, recommended extra material, various links of interest to the course material, and reflecting on our in-class work. I will also provide a list of all our sites in the “Student Blogs” page.
Blog Assignments: This semester’s “Monster Blog” assignment is worth 50% of your grade, and will be comprised of the following smaller assignments:
Weekly Response Blog Posts (450 points): You will have ten weekly blog posts this semester. Each post will be worth 45 points. Your posts should be relevant to the material (required and recommended) we have covered during the week or will cover the following week. This is an opportunity for you to explore lingering questions and ideas we did not cover in class or which you would like to explore further. Your blog posts are also the space through which to make larger connections to other readings, films, TV shows, current events, or readings we completed earlier in the semester. These blog posts are designed as a space for exploring the texts in depth, dealing directly with the material (i.e.: close reading the text), and creating a dynamic group discussion. As such, I require you to routinely visit your classmates’ blogs and engage them in digital conversation.
- Format: Each blog should be a minimum of 250-300 words, but I encourage you to explore further. This is a general guideline, and some posts may be longer. However, in my experience, it is difficult to develop a meaningful argument in fewer than 300 words. These blogs will serve as the foundation for your midterm paper and final blog presentations. I also encourage you to incorporate pictures, video, or other multimedia, but please remember to contextualize these elements for your readers.
Peer Responses (50 points): You will be required to comment on at least four of your peers’ posts this semester, but I encourage you to do so routinely. You can access the list of blogs by going to my site or by subscribing to your classmates’ blog.
“Monster Blog” Presentations (100 points): On the final week of the semester, students will present their blog to the class. As you will see, each blog entry builds on the previous one. As you develop your ideas about the course’s required readings you will also develop an argument about the monsters and hauntings we encounter. This assignment asks you to write a ten-minute presentation in which you reflect about your work in “American Horror Stories” and present a clear argument to your classmates about monsters and hauntings. You will be asked to use the semester’s texts and your blog entries as examples for your argument. As the semester’s end approaches I will provide more detailed information.
Academic Integrity and Blogging Etiquette: The same codes of academic integrity that apply to your essay writing should be applied to your blogs. Your posts should be your own work, written by you. If you refer to outside content, such as articles, images, videos, etc., make sure to link the source and provide citations. Also make sure to indicate quoted material appropriately, as per MLA 8th edition guidelines.
Resources for Fair Use, Citations, and Other Blogging Issues: I will provide links to these sites via Blackboard and my blog.
- How Not to Steal Content on the Web
- Legal Guide for Bloggers
- Copyright and Fair Use Animation
Grading Rubric: Before publishing your post, consider whether your blog accomplishes the following:
Length: 250-300 words minimum
Style: Posts are written in your own style and voice. Posts help us hear you in your writing and present an individual perspective.
Purpose: Posts are informative, persuasive, and/or reflective. Posts expand upon the material covered in class and push us to think beyond the points/arguments covered by the instructor or peers during in-class discussions.
Mechanics: Posts have been proofread for grammatical errors.
Research: Posts include extra-textual material that directs readers to texts, arguments, or information that place the posts in a larger conversation about the material. These extra-textual materials can be images, video, links, etc., which are contextualized for the reader.
Due Dates: I have listed the due dates for your blogs below (these dates fall on Mondays roughly every week), and you can find them on the syllabus as well. Blogs must be published by 11:59 pm, although publishing early is welcome, and even encouraged! Blogs are due on Monday so that you would have the weekend to develop your writing. However, a successful blog will likely be one that you have spent time thinking about, planning, and drafting in the week prior to its publication.
- #1: September 11, 2017
- #2: September 18, 2017
- #3: September 25, 2017
- #4: October 2, 2017
- #5: October 9, 2017
- #6: October 23, 2017
- #7: October 30, 2017
- #8: November 6, 2017
- #9: November 13, 2017
- #10: November 20, 2017