English 435 and Blog Origins

According to Technorati, an online tracking system for blogs, 94 million Americans are blog readers while 22 million are bloggers themselves. The Wall Street Journal estimated that about two million Americans make some money from blogging and that over 450,000 Americans make a living from blogging. Newspaper, corporations, and universities all employ bloggers; bloggers are interviewed on national news programs. Blogs have moved from the margins to the mainstream.

During the Spring of 2010, the Department of English offered a special topics course within writing and rhetoric, “The Rhetorical Art of Blogging” taught by Dr. Jackie Grutsch-McKinney. Throughout the semester, the class explored a variety of topics relevant to blogging and the field of English:

  • the genre and poetics of blogs: what are the conventions, the affordances, and potential
  • blogging rhetoric: ethos and arguments
  • differences and similarities to print genres
  • technologies for composing and reading blogs
  • multimodality: composing with images, links, audio, video
  • the blog to book (to film) phenomenon
  • blogs of consequence: politically and personally
  • the blogging life and cultivating an online identity

The text for this course included Scott Rosenberg’s Say Everything, Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture and Sarah Boxer’s Ultimate Blogs.

The course was intended as an opportunity to explore blogs, blogging and bloggers and the all-encompassing blogosphere. Throughout the semester, students enrolled in the class wrote essays discussing and analyzing the rhetoric of blogging, investigated the various blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) and indicated tips and tricks to enhance a blog. All of this investigation in and exposure to the blogosphere climaxed with each student creating, launching and presenting a personal blog, including a report to discuss the choices made when creating the blog.

The BSU English blog is the culmination of what the class has learned during the semester. In addition to creating individual blogs, students in the class collaborated to launch this blog for the department. After the semester ends, the department has offered to continue the blog by hiring a paid intern to upkeep and manage the blog’s content.

[Posted by JD Mitchell]

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