Writing on the web: Criticism as building and sharing

When: March 20, 2014, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Where: Charlotte Frank Classroom (1203 HE)

Presenter(s): Jeff Allred, English; Julie Van Peteghem, Romance Languages

A rapidly increasing share of our reading and writing occurs these days on networked screens, and this development presents faculty and students with exciting possibilities and new challenges. Perhaps the most salient is that student work can be “published” quickly and relatively easily on the web to peers or even to the general public. This capacity allows students to think of their writing as meaningful communication with living, breathing readers, and it encourages them to seek out connections between their ideas and those of peers in the classroom and beyond. In this session, we will look at how two Hunter faculty integrated collective, web-based writing practices into their classes, helping students to build substantial critical “objects” over the course of a semester.

Jeff Allred will talk about Yoknapedia, a wiki site composed of student-authored articles on persons, places, and things in the fictional “Yoknapatawpha Co.” that is the setting for most of William Faulkner’s fiction. Students from two sections of a Faulkner course collaborated on the site, writing over 200 entries ranging from the small-bore and humble (“pussel-gutted,” “brogans“) to the broad and complex (“miscegenation,” “Big Woods“). The overarching aim was to orient student writing towards publication–even if in a modest form–creating handholds and onramps to a notoriously difficult body of work.

Julie Van Peteghem will talk about “Digital Decameron,” a website accompanying her course on Giovanni Boccaccio’s “Decameron.” Students used the site in two ways: as contributors, creating unique content for the site once a week, and as users, consulting the work by their peers in preparation for each class. Over the course of the semester, they created a digital study guide to each of the 100 stories of the “Decameron” and used the site to make connections between the stories.


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