Intro to Poetry

Commonplace Blog

In the Early Modern Period, readers began keeping commonplace books, in which they wrote down excerpts from their reading as a way of saving and remembering words they found meaningful, beautiful, or important. It’s a type of journalling or scrapbooking in which readers collect and respond to what they read based on personal interests, often incorporating anything from poetry to newspaper clippings to recipes. This assignment is a 21st Century take on the commonplace book, using a blog instead of a notebook.

You will work on this assignment throughout the semester, writing several short blog posts each week responding to poetry that we read together for class, as well as poetry you discover on your own. In these blog posts, you will have opportunities to respond freely, practice close reading and analysis, make connections between poetry and other forms of expression, and consider the role of poetry in our cultural landscape. As with the commonplace book, the blog should reflect your personal interests. However, unlike the the notebook, a blog is written for an audience, so it’s an opportunity for you to share poetry and your interests with others.

Commonplace books often functioned as a sort of scrap book, and I encourage you to think of your blog as a sort of digital scrap book—what kinds of media might be worth keeping on this site? Though it will not be necessary with every post, the highest grades will go to students who regularly, thoughtfully link out to, embed, or otherwise include various relevant media. This blog is an opportunity for you to make connections between what we are reading in class and other ideas, texts, and media that engage in similar themes.

Your blog posts will be graded throughout the semester. Keep in mind that the purpose of a commonplace book was to keep excerpts, not entire poems. Similarly, you should avoid including entire poems, partially to focus on specific moments in the poem that particularly speak to you, and partially to respect copyright laws since your blog will be public.

Final Instructions

The grade from your commonplace blog has been assessed throughout the semester as you’ve written blog posts. If you are satisfied with your grade in this category, you are not required to do any additional work.

However, if you wish to improve your grade, there are a number of steps you can take.

  • Revise up to five previous posts, and designate them by including the word revised in parentheses is the title of the post. It must be clearly marked.
    • For this, you will also write up a description of what changes you made and why, which you will email to me.
  • Improve the appearance of your blog by selecting a different theme, adding images, or whatever else you feel will make your blog more visually appealing. Be aware of copyright laws regarding use of images, text, video, and sound files.
    • For this, you will also write up a description of what changes you made and why, which you will email to me.
  • Complete posts that you missed during the semester for partial credit. Anything is better than a zero, right?
    • For this, you will include the word new in parentheses after the post title. It must be clearly marked.
  • Compose up to six extra credit posts using the guidelines on the course website.
    • For this, you must include the word extra in parentheses after the post title.

All changes must be finished by December 9th.

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