Why Blog?

Many cultural observers have heralded the great democratizing possibilities of the Internet, arguing that those who were once silenced by power and resource inequities can, at least theoretically, broadcast their voices and harness new media to organize and advocate. In this age of communication, rhetoric seems a powerful tool, indeed.

Blogging is one such way rhetors can get their message out there, whether they are advocating for political change, building interest communities, sharing experiences and information, or just having fun. Since most blogs are meant for an audience, blogging is an implicitly civic action. Because blogging intimately connects rhetorical practice to civic life and brings together written, oral, visual, and digital media, it’s an ideal activity for this course.

But enough about the world and this course–what about you? If you find yourself asking “Why am I blogging so much?” another pressing reason is–quite simply–that it improves your writing. In a 2010 study of blogging in LA 101H, Penn State’s forerunner to the current version of RCL,”intensive blogging,” which is what you are doing, was shown to improve student writing in all areas compared to occasional blogging. This makes sense. The more you practice reading and writing, the better you become.

RCL Blogging Assignment

For this summer semester of Rhetoric and Civic Life, you will create two distinct blog categories: Your Passion Blog and RCL Blog. Your weekly entry for each of your two blog categories will be due before each of the 5 official blogging sessions. We will spend some time in each blogging session reading and responding to one another’s blog posts. Indeed, thoughtful commenting on others’ blogs will be a significant component of your final blog grade.

Blogging details at a glance:

  • Two blog categories to maintain: Passion (500 words per session) and RCL (300 words per session)
  • Blogging runs for a 5-session period
  • Blogs are due before each class session
  • 50% of blog grade is participation; the other 50% is reserved for the quality of blog entries and commenting.

Passion Blog

Above all, the “Passion Blog” should be on a topic or theme about which students are excited to write. When students are choosing the focus of the Passion Blog, they will think carefully about how they might sustain this blog over ten sessions to meet the course requirement—and maybe beyond! How will bloggers introduce new topics? How will they interest and inform readers, engaging them in their topic? How will their entries invite readers to comment? Writing this blog should be a pleasure and a challenge for students.

Successful passion blog entries are:

  • submitted in a timely fashion and average about 500 words in length.
  • written in a lively voice that engage and provoke its audience into commenting and taking distinctive stances.
  • coherent in terms of content or focus and address a particular topic, niche audience, or human interest angle.
  • able to draw upon the multi-modal affordances of the blog platform and are formatted attractively.
  • attentive to grammar and correctness, but may be written in an informal or colloquial style.