The Course Blog

Two of the main themes of the class are: the exploration of digital media as a mode of communicating historical knowledge; and experimentation with the collaborative production of knowledge. So it’s not surprising that, first, the bulk of your assignments are shifted over to the digital realm; and second, that we will be thinking of this website as a platform for a collective exploration of our subject matter.

Fall Semester

After registering for the course website, you will be expected to produce one substantive post every two weeks (400 words), and allowed to add as many short ’heads-up’ postings as you desire (though for the most part such postings would be better off in the comments section of an existing post). You will also be expected to comment regularly – every week – on your colleagues’ (and my own) postings.

Unless otherwise noted, postings in the first semester take the form of a response to the week’s readings or theme. In the event that I want you to focus on something else, I will inform you one week in advance in class. As with any short response paper the object of the posting is not to summarize, but to engage critically with the texts at hand. Some informality in tone is acceptable and even expected, but these are to be serious, thoughtful engagements with the course materials. For general guidelines on writing, look here. You can also think of these posts as a cross between an ordinary blog post and a review or response paper. We will discuss this further as the semester goes on.

Citations of online sources should use hyperlinks; other material should be cited as in printed assignments (I recommend Chicago Manual of Style, but we will discuss this at greater length during the semester).

Blog entries should be produced regularly, not saved up for a big bang at the end of class. To be counted towards your grade, blog entries must be handed in 24 hours before the start of the next class. This is a firm deadline to permit others time to comment on your work, and on occasion to give me a chance to post something after everyone has made their contributions.

Winter Semester

In the second semester, you are expected to post about your project: progress reports, pieces of text you’ve written for your site, or reflections on other aspects of the project. Because continuous progress is essential to the success of the project, the blog assignment shifts in the second semester to a weekly assignment: 400 words, 24 hours before class, in time for me and your classmates to read through and comment.


Your online contributions constitute 20% of your grade (that’s not including your final project and ancillary assignments, some of which will also go through the course blog). Your blog posts will be evaluated in bulk, but I’ll be applying the following criteria (cf. Mark Sample’s helpful post from which parts of this are derived):

  • 4 Excellent. Clear, concise analysis, convincingly written, with few spelling or grammatical errors. Entry has a clear thesis and advances arguments & presents evidence within the limited scope of the assignment to support the thesis.
  • 3 Good. Entry is still coherent and well-edited, but its arguments are less pointed, convincing, and novel. Reflects moderate engagement with the topic.
  • 2 Subpar. Argument is flimsy, posting is mostly a summary or rehashing of readings. Reflects passing engagement with the topic.
  • 1 Inadequate. Unstructured, error-ridden, no argument to speak of. Shows no engagement with the topic.
  • 0 No Credit. Failed to post or made only a token effort.

I will comment on individual blog posts as much as possible, but will give out marks only twice a year (approx. Nov. 29 & Apr. 3). The better your postings, the more exciting and engaging this class will be for everyone. So please approach this part of the class in good faith and take it seriously.