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Literary Studies Course

Fostering a Feminist Classroom Climate

Whiteboard with brainstormed text about what makes a class successful

In this icebreaking activity, students think-pair-share on the question "What makes a class a success?" This gives them the opportunity to meet a new classmate and contribute to setting the classroom tone for the semester ahead.

Reading Text in Context

This in-class exercise encourages students to explore context for texts they are analyzing (rather than receiving such context from direct instruction) and then use visualization software in order to present their findings to their classmates.

Compiling Context with Digitized Periodicals

The National Era - 1 April 1852

Students examine and manipulate digitized page images in order to consider the presentation of serialized texts. “Compiling Context” is a versatile introduction to periodical print culture suitable for literature and rhetoric courses. 

Shifting Focus from Content to Medium

an illustration of a tv with "the message" written on the screen.

Using various records of the Hindenburg disaster, this assignment encourages students to engage with medium over content, especially in terms of literary studies.  

Composing Short Writing Assignments for the Internet: Confronting the Digital Native Myth

Digital native?

This peer learning assignment and lesson plan series gives students the opportunity to explore digital composition.

Using Twitter for Class Reading and Participation

twitter image

Instead of required blog posts or reading quizzes, I require my students to interact with each week's reading and each other by "live-tweeting" their reading process.

Google Images and Book Covers - Tracking Cultural Change

Various covers of the novel Lolita

Images on book covers, blurbs or reviews on dust jackets, and publishers’ summaries all provide constructed argumentation about the text within that is designed to provoke an emotional and analytic response.

Distributed Peer Review

When students can review their peers' attempts at an assignment before it's time for their own attempt, they inevitably critique other students' work and incorporate the best writing strategies into their own

When students can review their peers' attempts at an assignment before it's time for their own attempt, they inevitably critique other students' work and incorporate the best writing strategies into their own.

Step-by-step Guide to Blogging Close Readings

Students sign up to blog for a given class day, chosing a short passage

This assignment was designed to get students to practice their close reading skills in a short, condensed format of a blog post.  Students sign up to blog for a given class day, chosing a short passage from the assigned reading for that day.

Using the DWRL's Viz. Blog to Teach Analysis, Tone, and Invention

Screenshot of the masthead for the Viz blog. In the background is a picture of a human eye. The script says "viz., Visual Rhetoric - Visual Culture - Pedagogy."  The links to the main viz. pages are shown across the bottom of the image: "visual theory, teaching, views, images, blog, ransom." The image also includes a search bar.

By reading and browsing Viz. posts, students learn the difference between objective analysis and value judgment. This assignment also uses Viz. to teach students that the topics and tone used for rhetorical analysis can be wide-ranging and non- “academic.”

Banned Books Virtual Read-Out

Students videotape themselves reading 2-minute-long passages from a banned book of their choice. They then upload their readings to the Virtual Read-Out Youtube channel, sharing them nationally.

Disputing YouTube Content ID Takedowns

Fair Us Logo

As part fo the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, content service providers (such as YouTube) are given safe harbor from prosecution if they take certain steps to prevent copyright infringement. Unfortunately, this has led to a "shoot first and ask questions later" approach on YouTube's part.

Setting Up a Studio Environment for Multimedia Projects

Get Excited and Make Things

Whenever I teach, I always assign some form of multimedia project, and these practices have helped to set up a studio environment where collaborative multimedia projects can thrive. Rather than post an explicit lesson plan to our site, I thought I’d run through a set of practices that have been successful for me ov

Using Juxta to Compare Editions

Manuscript Revision

This lesson plan prompts students to use Juxta (collation software) to compare different witnesses or instances of a text.  Students compare multiple versions of a literary work, locating revisions in order to discuss word choice and textual instabilities.  Most useful for literary works with full-text editions available online. 

Analyzing Visual Arguments

A doctor's body inside large, bleeding ears with large money bags against a blood-red backdrop seen behind the mirror images of the enlarged close up of a man's ears.

Students practice closely describing and analyzing an image for its argument and rhetorical impact.

Pre-Writing: Surveying Expectations on the First Day of Class

The Writing Process Diagram with arrows showing the interrelationships between prewriting, writing, and revising.

On the first day of class, students think about the course topic and document their personal definitions of and understandings of the topic.

Creating OED Word Constellations

Magnifying Glass

In this assignment students use the Oxford English Dictionary to make individual mindmaps of the multiple definitions of related words, then the class together creates a constellation of meanings surrounding a seemingly simple topic that becomes more and more complex. 

Generating Consensus on Textual Interpretation Through Circulating Critique

worksheet showing two rounds of exercise

This exercise has groups of three students answer questions about an assigned reading; read and revise other groups' answers; consider other groups' revisions of their first answer; and revise their first answer--all in preparation for class discussion.

Blogging Research from the Oxford English Dictionary

A picture of an open dictionary page with eyeglasses on top.

In two short blog posts, I asked students to choose an interesting or perplexing word to look up in the books we'd just finished reading. After conducting their research, students blogged about their findings and made a quick effort at applying their research to a passage. 

Using Storify to Analyze Poetry

Screenshot of Storify page, with YouTube video of "The Second Coming"

Students often conceptualize poems as monolithic objects from the past.  This lesson plan helps encourage them to visualize and conceptualize the content and influence of a poem in different registers.

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