Friday, August 27, 2004

First week of teaching; course blogs

So my research leave has come to an end, and I'm back at Lehigh teaching this fall. The first week of classes is a doozy, as many other aca-bloggers will attest, and it's difficult to find time and energy to blog.

I am trying out course blogs for my two courses this fall. "Working With Texts" is a required, introduction to the major type course, geared at Lehigh sophomores. (I'm happy to see that a student has already posted something on Tennyson!)

And "The Spirits of Modernity" is a grad seminar on British modernism, which looks at questions of faith and doubt, religion and secularization in British modernism as well as in a little postcolonial literature (mainly The Satanic Verses). Authors include James Joyce (Ulysses), H.D., T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, James Wood, and Rushdie. We might also look at a bit of Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase, a memoir about Armstrong's struggle with belief and doubt in a convent (yes, this is the same Karen Armstrong who has written a number of bestselling books on Islam).

Right now the idea is that I as well as my students will mainly post links to resources on the authors and concepts we're working on. It's experimental, so it will be a relatively small part of the grade of both classes (I'm curious to see if course blogging can result in some 'value-added' to the learning experience). I'm leaving it somewhat open right now to see if other uses for these blogs might emerge; I might become more directive as the term progresses.

Are others experimenting with course blogs? The main example I'm looking at is Chuck Tryon's "Rhetoric and Democracy" course blog, which is for a Freshman composition class focusing on the Presidential elections at Georgia Tech. But it is easier to define the use of a blog for a course about the elections than it is for courses that are primarily on reading literature; it's not like there's a new bit on CNN on Hilda Doolittle everyday.


PhDiva said...

I love the idea of course blogs. Kepp us posted on how it works out.

3:23 PM  
JD said...

I'm doing a blog for one of my seminars this semester, for the first-year students, one on modernity and discontent. There are a number of interesting reasons to do so, not least because on a blog the act of having a discussion and recording it are the same thing--it can be a kind of ongoing archive of discourse. I'm going to require that people post once a week or so, at least to get the ball rolling at the beginning of the semester.

I'm having it set up so that one needs a password to view it; I envision that it might be intimidating to post freely on a blog easily accessible to family, employers, stalkers, et cetera.

4:55 PM  
chutry said...

Amardeep, you might also want to check out George Williams' "American Dialogues," which is also an election-themed composition course ( Matthew Kirschenbaum's senior-level Postmodern Literature course also has a course blog. Here's an entry about it from his personal blog: (

1:28 AM  

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