Into the Blogosphere

Course Overview:

 This 3000 level course is designed to enhance students' ability to write for a variety of purposes and generate a public via a personal blog. Students are introduced to genre and rhetorical theories as well as contemporary readings about style and blog writing.

Formal Assignments:

Genre Analysis, Blog Design, Blog Posts, Rhetorical Analysis, Final Reflection about rhetoric and style

Key Themes: 

Genre, rhetoric, rhetorical situation,  publics, ethos, style, persuasion, interface design, blogging

Primary/Supplementary Texts: (Small Sample)

Lloyd Bitzer's "The Rhetorical Situation" and Richard Vatz's "The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation" for their productive debate about the rhetorical situation

Carolyn Miller's and Dawn Shepard's article "Into the Blogosphere" for its useful insight into the blog as genre and introduction to genre analysis

Kerry Dirk's "Navigating Genres" and Deborah Dean's "Explaining Genre Theory" for their useful introduction to genre from a rhetorical perspective

Michael Warner's "Publics and Counterpublics" for its theoretical introduction to publics

Andrew Sullivan's article "Why I Blog" for its provocative discussion of blogging as new way of writing in the 21st century 

Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett's ProBlogger for its practical approach to blogging

Course Description:

 This course offers students the opportunity to work on their expository writing and style. In exposition, discourse is used to explain, describe, convey, analyze, or evaluate information. To practice their expository writing, students generate their own blog focused on a particular subject of interest to them. Among other options, they can choose to create a blog about film, health, popular culture, politics, music, fashion, travel, and lifestyle. They may choose to make their blog public to everyone who has access to the Internet or make it more private, available only to class members. However, either way, they practice writing for different purposes with a particular audience in mind.

During the first part of the semester, students develop a strong discourse community by exploring the blog as a genre from a rhetorical perspective. Students write a formal genre analysis to identify and explain what specific niche of blog they will be working in this semester. During the remainder of the course, they design and craft their own blog. They are expected to generate weekly blog posts through which they gain experience generating well-researched content, incorporating image and text, and organizing ideas in different ways to inform, explain, and/or describe. They work on their writing style, at sentence and paragraph level, as they attempt to write clearly, cohesively, and coherently. Yet they also work on developing an appropriate ethos for their blog and thus adapt their writing style to meet their own blogging goals. In addition, this course is also designed to improve students' editing skills; therefore, students are expected to not only edit their own work but also their peers'. 

Course Reflection:

This course offers students an experience to write for an audience beyond the university setting. Students are challenged to adapt their writing style in order to generate and sustain a public via their blog. This class generally attracts English and journalism majors interested in blogging as a profession. It is also taken by students within and outside English who are interested in improving their writing and specifically working on their writing style.