Students will compose five blog posts over the course of the semester. Each blog post should be 300-500 words. Students are encouraged to be as creative as they wish; a student may embed images, links, tweets, or other multimedia content that fits the prompt.
Students MUST make at least ONE of the blogs a VIDEO BLOG (or Vlog) and embed a video of him or herself discussing that post’s content rather than writing about it; each vlog should be 2-4 minutes long. Just as they did when working on the Common First Week Video, each student should plan to work from a script and carefully plan the content of his or her vlog. As we will discuss in class, many different vlog styles exist but as a general rule of thumb, the student should plan to appear on screen for at least part of the video and not rely solely on voice over, (this will help the student to practice skills in both oral and non-verbal modes.) Students who have expressed an interest in improving oral/non-verbal communication skills may choose to make more than one vlog, but one is the minimum requirement.
In drafting a blog or vlog post, students should aim to answer the prompt by adding their own individual insights or original observations to the existing conversation. Blog posts should reflect good visual design, conform to online format norms, and use the affordances of a website to augment the written elements of the post.
Students are encouraged to incorporate sources, including the textbook and class readings, but should appropriately cite those sources in EITHER MLA format (best for books, hard copy readings) OR using a link to the original content (best for digital content, online articles); each blog post should develop an argument beyond what those external sources say. By the end of the semester, these blog posts will act as building blocks towards a larger argument about YA dystopian fiction, while helping you to formulate, work through, test, and refine your own thoughts on the course topic.
Each blog post MUST contain the following elements in order to be accepted for credit; missing any of these elements will result in an automatic “R” grade for the assignment (see syllabus page 8).
- An original and descriptive title (NOT Blog Post 1 or Sarah’s Post)
- Two category designations; one that notes which blog post you are working on (Blog Post 2) and one that notes the section of your course (C2, A6, B6).
- At least two descriptive tags that describe the content of your post. This might include topic headings, primary texts discussed, keywords, or searchable terms.
- At least one multimodal element: this might include hyperlinks, images, embedded videos, infographics, sound recordings or other elements. Vlog posts are by nature multimodal, but your vlog posts may include annotations, slides, text headings or other elements.
Once you have completed your blog/vlog for each prompt, plan to Tweet a link with a brief description of the content to the course hashtag. In professional contexts, cross-promoting social media content in this way will help increase traffic and allow your content to address a wider audience.
POST 1: How do you define dystopia (or other dystopia term: utopia, anti-utopia)? How does combining dystopia with another genre (sci-fi, romance, apocalypse) affect your definition? How does combining dystopia with Young Adult literature (YA) change the genre? You may use examples from class books or your own research book and to take our class discussion in an original or more in-depth direction.
POST 2: How does media and/or propaganda function in dystopias? Choose one of the following:
- Analyze a specific example of media or propaganda within one of the texts we have read (or your own). You might choose to create an accompanying visual or embed existing materials, fan art, or adaptations of the text that you found via Twitter or other Internet sources.
- Discuss the marketing techniques surrounding a dystopian book, film or television show (like the marketing of The Hunger Games discussed in class)? How has the marketing of this text (cover images, movie posters, film trailers, tie-ins, comparisons to other texts) affected the way you approached the text?
POST 3: What interests you the most about dystopias (specifically the dystopia you have read independently)? Use this post as an opportunity to explore possible questions or avenues of inquiry for your own research project. At this stage, your ideas may only be as developed as “I think it is really cool/interesting that dystopias do XYZ” or “What I don’t understand about this book is…” Aim to articulate an open question related to your independent reading that you hope to be able to answer after weeks of research (and one that you don’t feel you can answer now). Consider this an informal research paper proposal.
POST 4: Describe your upcoming conference paper by giving the audience a small preview, or abstract, of your argument. Make sure to include the title of the paper and your main arguments; additionally, make an effort to hype up your paper by talking about its most interesting elements (perhaps a fascinating source, or the really strong argument you came up with.) Aim to persuade your classmates that your paper is one to look forward to hearing during our conference.
POST 5: How do dystopias change the way we view, talk about, or think about current events? Choose one of the following prompts:
- Analyze a current event, debate, or discussion using one of our dystopias (or your own) as a point of comparison. Discuss how reading this dystopia has shaped your own political, social, educational, or personal outlook. (“I care more about the environment after reading Oryx and Crake” or “I started paying closer attention to what happens to my personal data so I don’t end up like Titus in Feed.”)
- Using a current event as your “ground zero” to imagine your own fictional dystopian future. You may describe, illustrate, film, animate, or use any other media to give us a sense of what you imagine that dystopia would be like.
OPTIONAL POST 6 (EXTRA CREDIT): Give a summary of a source (such as a book chapter, article, or documentary) that you have found during your individual research that you think might be helpful for other members of our course. This should be a little more detailed than the annotated bibliography summaries you are already working on and should aim to be persuasive to the rest of the class. At minimum, you should include the main argument of the source, the key terms or theories used by the source, the organization and/or rhetorical strategies of the source, why this source is important (to your project and/or the field at large). You might also point to projects you feel might benefit from reading this source, based on the conference presentations.
This post may be used as extra credit in one of two ways: you may replace the grade for another blog post OR you may add 10 points to your participation grade. You will be asked to choose one option during the last week of the semester.