Blog Post Prompts and Specifications


Blog Posts differ from Reflective Engagements in a number of ways:

  • they are public, living on the Post|English page within our course blog
  • whereas REs are most concerned with process—making use of writing as a tool for thinking and learning as part of the daily life of the course—blog post assignments are concerned with product (as demonstrated by their public nature)
  • they synthesize class discussions, readings, and personal experience and observation to generate a cohesive response to the prompt
  • they are generated outside of class, free from the time constraints of the Reflective Engagements and with opportunity for revision

The basic specifications for Blog Posts are:

  • meet the word requirement specific to that Blog Post assignment
  • be posted on time
  • be clearly public-facing in the way they address an audience
  • use hyperlinks (not URLs, but hyperlinks) for citations—rather than using MLA style citation conventions
  • include at least 1 image and 3 links

Blog Post 1: Your English Story. 600-800 words: 

This first few weeks of Beyond English serve as a sort of bridge. They offer a space to reflect on why we are here–why we have committed to this area of study–in a way that suspends the question of the viability of literature for the world of work. Instead, we spend some time reflecting on the values of literature for the world more generally: what it means to be human, present, empathetic and aware; what it means to be less filled up with ourselves and more filled up by others.

This first blog post asks you to linger in this space, to write your own defense of the literary and the life of reading and thinking. Like the readings we’ve sampled, you can take any number of approaches: philosophical, psychological, personal, political. I just ask that you directly engage, in some way, at least 2 of the selections we read for this week, placing their ideas alongside your own. The core of the post is you, not an an analysis or summary of these articles. But I do want your voice to intersect with these voices at times by incorporating at least one quote. You are also welcome to do some searching of your own and find perspectives on literature and literary study that speak more powerfully to you.

In addition to the 5 basic specifications for all Blog Posts noted at the top of this page, Blog Post 1 should:

  • engage with the focus of the prompt for Blog Post 1
  • engage with at least 2 of the readings for this week
  • keep the emphasis on you (your experiences, your ideas, your observations), with the material from the readings in a secondary, supporting position

Ensure you’ve met the 8 specifications for Blog Post 1 before posting.

Blog Post 2: Using Literature to Navigate Life: 600-800 words. 

In our reading and listening, we have attended to Ross Gay’s Book of Delights as well as a selection of poems and close-reading engagements via the Poetry Unbound podcast. This blog post, has two parts, one engaging with Gay’s book and the other with the podcast series.

For part 1: Choose 1 delight (or 2-3 delights that relate to one another in some way) and offer a careful close reading of it that draws out the ways the most minute details and encounters can suggests more profound core values that are also relevant to the capacities for reading, attention, and empathy that we develop as English majors. Alternately, if you would rather not engage the analytical response, you can compose your own delight.

For part 2: Choose a poem or prose passage that speaks to you and unpack it in the style of the Poetry Unbound podcast. (This will not be a poem that was discussed within the podcast series.) You are welcome to create a podcast episode in this style, or simply to offer the transcript version.

In addition to the 5 basic specifications for all Blog Posts noted at the top of this page, Blog Post 2 should:

  • include 2 parts, one covering the Book of Delights, the other the Poetry Unbound podcast
  • perform a close reading of 1-3 delights (part 1), or produce a “delight” of your own (part 1)
  • select a poem or short prose passage that is not addressed in a Poetry Unbound episode, and analyze it in the style of the PU podcast; this analysis can be in written form, or it can be in podcast form

Ensure you’ve met the 8 specifications for Blog Post 2 before posting.

Blog Post 3: Academic Work Inventory. 800-1000 words.

During our fourth full week, we are transitioning from the values of English to its real-world viability. As we make this transition, we will begin the work of collecting past work from our classes that reflects these values even as these works suggest this sense of real-world viability. In a sense, what we are doing here is developing and applying a vocabulary that speaks to the values and viability of the English major as a whole.

In this post, begin my making a case not just for how English has been valuable for you personally, but for how you think English will be viable for you professionally. Here, you should draw on our readings from Anders, Madsbjerg, and others.

After you’ve set the stage, please discuss at least 3 projects you’ve produced (ideally for which you have some physical or digital record) that embody this sense of viability. Be clear in connecting the things you discuss earlier in the post to these concrete projects. Take a paragraph or two for each of these projects. Conclude briefly by reflecting on the ways in which the English values you noted in your first blog post also might find their ways into your present engagement with the viability of an English degree. That is, consider how value and viability are often closely connected. Note that these projects can be interdisciplinary. If they are beyond English, you should note how they resonate with the core ideas related to the viability and importance of certain humanistic ways of thinking and being.

In addition to the 5 basic specifications for all Blog Posts noted at the top of this page, Blog Post 3 should:

  • include 2 parts, the first addressing how English will be viable for you professionally, the second addressing at least 3 projects you’ve produced while an English major
  • engage in part 1 with readings from Madsbjerg and others
  • present 3 different projects, addressing each individually (across 3+ different paragraphs), in terms of the way(s) each might demonstrate the viability you discuss in part 1
  • conclude with reflection on how English values from your first Blog Post can connect to the matter of the viability of an English degree (considering how value and viability are connected)

Ensure you’ve met the 9 specifications for Blog Post 3 before posting.

Blog Post 4: Your English Story: Personal-Professional Narrative: 800-1000 words.

You can find the expanded assignment sheet for this longer post here. The 8 specifications listed on the rubric there are in addition to the 5, above, that guide every Blog Post assignment, for a total of 13 for this assignment. It’s a complex one, with the product guiding our work through the rest of the course.