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Literary Studies Course

Teaching Close Reading through Short Composition/Revision

A black and white image of WEB Du Bois

This lesson teaches close reading by having students compose, and then analyze, openings to biographical narratives about “great Americans.”

Speed Dating with Thesis Statements

Meet a room full of thesis statements that want to meet YOU!

A Structured Approach to Teaching the OED as a Close Reading Tool

a person in a black shirt holding up a book. On the left-hand side of the book is a yellow page that read "step one" in white font. On the right-hand site is a white page with the word "one" written in large brown font.

Using a structured worksheet, students explore a word of interest from one of the course readings through the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online. The worksheet asks them to consider how the definition(s) of the word can help inform their textual analysis/close reading of a text.

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.

Annotation and Analysis with Genius.com (Formerly Rapgenius)

A page from Rapgenius, now called Genius, that includes an excerpt from Junot Diaz's Drown annotated by my students and a portrait of the author.

This lesson plan builds on Andrew Uzendoski's lesson on teaching close reading using Rap Genius (now called Genius), focusing on teaching students the process of annotation, as well as how to articulate the building blocks of

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.

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