I am still in the process of grading your blog assignments. For the most part, I have really enjoyed reading what you have to say. Here are some of my thoughts so far...
Remember to demonstrate a serious engagement with your chosen reading/s.
Here is what I wrote in the blog assignment: Your entry can be as long (within reason) or as short as you think necessary in order to demonstrate a critical engagement with your chosen reading/readings. By critical engagement I mean that your entry clearly demonstrates: a. that you have closely read (that means for than once) the reading and b. that you have thought through it in terms of appreciation, critique and construction.
I want to add to this statement: For me, a serious engagement means that you really engage with the reading. You read it many times and you really think about what the author is trying to argue and how that argument does/doesn't make sense to you. Here are some questions to consider as you work on your direct engagements:
a. What is your reaction to the argument? Do you like it? If so, why? If not, what is it about the argument that bothers you? It may be that you are turned off (or on?) by the argument, but you can't quite figure out why. Make that part of your blog entry. I have found in my own writing on my trouble blog, that the process of typing up my ideas can help me to clarify what I am really feeling about a reading. Or, it can at least help me to articulate why I am bothered/unsettled/moved by that reading. Check out this example from my blog.
b. Are there any particular passages that just don't make sense--either because of the author's language or because of the claims they are trying to make? For me, one great thing about the blog is that can be a space where you work through ideas. It is not necessarily (or even usually) a place where you write about ideas/arguments that you have completely figured out. One good starting point for a direct engagement entry could be a passage/idea from that reading that you just don't get. Start writing about why you don't get it and then how you think it might fit with the larger argument. Check out this example from by blog.
c. Is there an idea from the reading that really makes you mad or that moves you? Did you have an a-ha moment when you were reading the article? Write about this experience and why/how it happened.
d. Did you talk about this reading with one of your friends or a family member? What was that experience like? When you read certain essays do you find yourself wanting to tell your roommate about them? Write about that experience. How do you explain the reading? What do you tell them?
e. Do you ever find yourself reading an article and wanting to ask the author about what they wrote? You could construct your entry as a conversation between you and the author. Ask your questions and then imagine how they might reply. Or, you could construct your entry as a letter/email to that author (as in: Dear Judy, I was just reading your essay in Undoing Gender about the value of grief. What happened to the sense of humor that you had in Gender Trouble? Why does laughter not seem to be important to you anymore?...).
f. Explain the title. Frequently you can get to the key argument that an author is trying to make by explaining the title. Make your own explanation of the author's title a central part of your entry--but not the only part. See this example from my blog.
Be creative in your engagement with the reading. Don't worry about making these entries overly formal. Find a way to infuse your own personality into your entries. Show us your quirky sense of humor or "how your brain works". See this example from my blog.
Three important things to remember:
1. Serious engagement takes time. Serious engagement means that you spend a serious amount of time on your entries. Read the articles again...and again...and again. Do not wait until the last minute to write and post these.
2. Serious engagement does not mean that you have to take yourself (or the readings) too seriously. Have fun with these entries. This is your chance to play with these ideas and to experiment with many different ways in which to engage with the material and the topics of the class. Your experiments can fail, but that's okay. Plenty of mine have. See this example. But, as Butler reminds us, failure can be productive. If you experiment with your blog entry and it fails, write about the failure--why you think you failed and what important questions your failure produced.
3. The more I think about this assignment (and the more you all do it for the class), the more I come to understand its primary purpose. While I do hope that these entries enable us to build community outside of the classroom, that is not my primary purpose. For me, the primary purpose of your various blog assignments is to give you a different sort of space in which to work through the ideas of the class and to demonstrate that working through (to me, to yourself, to other class members). These blog entries are meant to encourage (maybe even to push) you to really engage with some central ideas of queering theory. Keep this mind as you are working on the entries.