Monday, September 24, 2012

Modern & Contemporary American Poetry @

Fernando IX University

Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

Al Filreis

This course is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly "difficult."
Fernando IX University

More FIX on the NET @ FIX University Cultural Campus


now we will comment on the essays

At right: a meet-up of ModPo people in the Philippines at a coffee shop yesterday to talk about the first writing assignment.

This message is about what happens when the period for submitting essay assignment #1 ends. Please carefully read this entire message. The gist is this:

1) For the next week we will comment on each other’s essays.
2) Those who submitted essays will go back to the
“writing assignments” section of the site and will comment on at least four others’ essays.
3) Those who did not submit essays (as well as those who did) are urged to comment on essays as they appear in the discussion forums.
4) A set of questions – a rubric – will guide you as you formulate your evaluative comments for each essay.

Now here are the details – a longer version of the above.

If you did not yourself write an essay: simply wait until the essays and first comments begin to appear in the discussion forum. Each essay will form its own thread. You’ll see the essay, another student’s (or TA’s or my) comment, and a copy of the detailed rubric. Follow the rubric and write a response of your own. You can comment at length, or you can be brief. You might respond to the whole essay or only to one point you found worthy of a comment. Please be kind and respectful. Our goal is to provide responses to everyone who wrote an essay – an audacious goal for a class this big. Can we do it? A fairly small percentage of the whole group will submit papers, so this objective is not impossible.

If you did submit your own essay: Any time after 11:59 PM eastern time tonight (Sunday), go back into the “essay assignments” section of the site. You’ll find that you have been assigned to comment on four other essays. Using the rubric, please comment on all four. Here are the steps:

1) click the
"writing assignments" link on the left-side navigation bar;
2) click "Go to assignment" for Writing assignment #1;
3) you will see a list of four students whose essays you are to evaluate (if not, make sure you are on the second tab labeled as follows: "2. Evaluate your classmates");
4) click on one your assigned students to see his or her essay, as well as the grading rubric we are providing;
5) now write evaluative comments, answering the questions in each section of the rubric as best you can, while being encouraging and kind;
6) keep in mind that until you provide a comment, the essay will not appear in the discussion forum and cannot be commented on by others.

Once the essay and first comments appear in the discussion forum, everyone should read and comment, even if briefly. If this process works, we will be collaborating on responses to our colleagues’ essays. The same sort of dynamism we have already brought to discussions in the forums should carry over to our responses to the essays. Think of this as another opportunity to discuss a poem. The difference here is that the initial remarks by your ModPo peers are more systematically organized than usual - not just partial "comments" but full "essays." Notwithstanding that difference, I believe we will succeed if we treat the essays as an occasion for further discussion. Don’t focus on your own view; your comments should be based on the views of the essay writer, using what he or she says as a premise.

Some of the essay writers have never written anything like this. Some were very nervous about sharing this kind of writing with others. Some will succeed in “close reading” elements of the poem, but will fail to write clearly or persuasively about other parts. Some are writing in a language that is second or third to their native tongues. Some will go on too long; others will be too brief. We are not “grading” these short interpretive essays per se; we are providing evaluative comments which should be sufficient for the essayist to deduce an overall evaluation. The disadvantage of a MOOC covering arts and humanities topics such as ModPo is that “testing” cannot be done as it is in a course on science, technology, engineering or math. Our quizzes, such as they are, can somewhat help you assess concepts raised in the video discussions; but the "score" might not reflect the nuance of your answer. Our essays are not meant to test the acquisition of ascertainable knowledge about the poems; rather, they are meant to give you an opportunity to try your hand at reading a poem closely without the benefit, initially, of guidance from instructors or peers. Ideally, you are learning how to do on your own what we’ve been doing for two weeks together. In a course of 30 or even 150 students, instructors and TAs can evaluate every essay, so “grades” (final evaluative marks) are feasible. In a course of this size, that’s impossible, so, once again, we must hope that the true “wisdom of the crowd” (intellectual "crowd sourcing") will emerge and be helpful to individuals.

--Al, Julia & the ModPo TAs
Sun 23 Sep 2012 7:44:00 AM PDT

introduction to week 3 (audio) is now available

The audio introduction to week 3 is now available here. As always this will be linked to the main syllabus and also in the archive of audio updates.
Fri 21 Sep 2012 10:44:00 AM PDT

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