Grading & Assignments


  • Blogging (20%) (9 posts, one per week + 18 comments, two a week) [no posts on peer review week]
  • Research Journal (20%) (9 posts, weekly) [no posts on peer review week]
  • Peer Feedback report (10%)
  • Final Written Project (50%) (a 4,000-5,000 word essay)


  • Blogging (20%) (9 posts, one per week + 18 comments, two a week) [no posts on peer review week]
  • Research Journal (20%) (9 posts, weekly) [no posts on peer review week]
  • Peer Feedback report (10%)
  • Final Written Project (50%) (a 5,000-6,000 word essay)

Each student is expected to post once a week (tagging their posts as “Blog Post”). Half of you will be assigned to post by noon on Mondays, and the other half by noon on Wednesdays (with occasional deviations as necessitated by the vagaries of scheduling). Blog posts can and will take a number of forms. Some weeks, I’ll post questions or prompts for you to respond to. Other weeks, your posts can be more open-ended, exploring key questions from the readings or expanding upon class discussions. One strategy that works well is to consider using analytic approaches we’ve developed in previous weeks to new readings. Another is to compare and contrast the approaches taken or arguments made by previous readings with the current week’s crop. You can discuss and try to work through an area of a reading you don’t understand, and pose an insightful question or two (and try to offer an answer). Feel free to engage with or relate to posts made by your classmates. Blog posts should be between 250 and 350 words.

I also expect two comments (using the blog’s comment feature) a week (no later than 11:59 PM on Sundays). This will necessarily mean reading through the blog posts made by your fellow students every week. Comments can be free-form (but always civil) responses to the issues and questions raised in an original blog post, or can continue ongoing discussion threads (you can “comment” on your own post to answer a question or continue a debate, for example). Comments can be any length, but should be substantive and on-topic.

My grading rubric for the blog posts is purely “credit/no-credit”–either you meet bare-bones requirements of the assignments, or you don’t. If you don’t, I’ll be letting you know. Otherwise you won’t be receiving weekly grades, but rather a final grade based on your completion of all 9 posts and 18 comments.

The class blog will also serve as the central depository for your research journals, where you’ll be keeping track of your progress and beginning to work out your analysis.  I strongly encourage you to look at each other’s research journal postings (all of which will be tagged “research journal” to differentiate them from blog posts), and to draw on their thoughts and offer comments and suggestions (I’ll be doing the same).  I expect you to post once a week.

Everyone will find their own style and strategy, and there’s no one way to write these research journal entries.  That said, I’ll be assessing you based on a simple, straightforward set of guidelines:

On Monday, April 30, you will be submitting first (rough) drafts (2 hard copies) of your final research paper.  These drafts will likely be incomplete in some important ways, but the more you provide (in terms of argument and evidence), the more productive the feedback you’ll receive.  Each submitted draft will be distributed to two of your classmates, who will take the weekend to write up brief commentaries (details to follow) directed at improving or clarifying the paper for your final draft.  On Monday, May 7, we’ll be taking the class period to work on the papers in groups, discussing these commentaries and preparing plans for revision.  Again, details will follow, but your peer feedback comments will be graded based on your effort and the depth and specificity of your feedback.  The more useful your feedback is for the author, the higher the grade.

Your final paper for this class (4,000 to 5,000 words for the undergraduates, 5,000 to 6,000 words for the grads, double-spaced, 10/12 point fonts, 1 inch margins, title page with name) will be on a topic of your choice, chosen in consultation with me.  An initial, one-page summary of your proposed research, along with a separate page containing at least 10 prospective academic sources, is due in hardcopy on April 16 (Monday), in class.  A first draft is due Monday, April 30 in class.  The final draft is due (by email) no later than Wednesday, June 6, at 5 PM.

For your paper, please follow the Chicago Manual of Style’s author-date convention for in-text citation and the preparation of your bibliography.  In-text citation format rules can be found here (click on “Author-date” tab), and guidelines for the bibliography (as well as a sample paper using the correct citation style) can be found here.  Correct citation and bibliography formatting are one of those things I expect college juniors/seniors and graduate students to be able to do with relatively little guidance, so be prepared to actually make use of these online resources.

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