Course grade

You will earn a letter grade for both of your major writing projects this semester—that is, for your work on our collaborative blog and on your digital essay. Each of these grades will count for 40% of your final course grade. The other 20% of your final grade will be a “process” grade that reflects the consistency of your work as a writer throughout the semester.


I will grade each of your individual posts to our class blog with a √ or √–, as way of tracking whether your work was thoughtful, complete, and on time. But I will also assess the overall quality of your work on the blog over the course of the semester, giving you a letter grade for all your posts viewed as a group. In doing so, I’ll look to see if you:

  • Have interesting things to say about the texts we are reading and issues we are discussing.
  • Write clear and engaging prose.
  • Make imaginative use of the affordances of the web—links, images, audio, video, slides, and so on.
  • Are professional. Edit your writing carefully. Document your sources. Double-check your links. Tag and categorize your posts.

But don’t fixate on this criteria. Your task as a blogger is to respond in thoughtful and useful ways to the work of others. When other people in this class seem engaged by your writing, you’ll know you’ve done your job.

 Digital essay

 The point of the digital essay assignment is to experiment with new forms and possibilities of expression. I thus can’t offer you a fixed rubric for grading what I hope will be a diverse set of pieces. But I also expect that the things I’ll look for will be similar to what I’d hope to find in any essay, namely:

  • Project: An ambitious project as an essayist and critic. Your essay must include at least 2000 words of written text. Your aim should be interpretive, in a broad sense, by which I mean you should be writing in response to other texts.
  • Voice: A strong sense of voice or presence in your writing.
  • Affordances: A thoughtful use of the affordances of the web—links, images, audio, video, slides, and so on. You should be able to explain why you’ve decided to structure your essay in the ways you have.
  • Professionalism: Your prose should be clear and and carefully edited. Your sources should be documented. Your essay as a whole should be thoughtfully designed.

As with your work on the class blog, view these expectations as a floor rather than ceiling. If you want to earn an A, then, empty the tank: Be ambitious. Do research. Rewrite. Reshoot. Re-edit. Fuss the details. Innovate. Make something the rest of us remember.


There will be 14 ungraded writing assignments over the course of the semester—12 x assignments (most of which will be blog posts and comments), and a proposal and first draft of your digital essay. I will use the following system of checks in to track this work:

Good 2 points
√– Hurried, late, incomplete 1
Ø Missing 0

I will then calculate your process grade for the course as follows:

A 28 points
A– 27
B+ 26
B 25
C+ 24
C 23

Comments, tweets, and work in seminar

I expect you to keep up with the other posts to our class blog, to write brief comments on posts that provoke or engage you, to reply to comments on your own posts, and to use our class twitter feed (#685dw) to point to links and readings of interest.

I will also ask you to participate as an active member of this seminar: to meet deadlines, to respond thoughtfully to the work of the other writers in this course, and to make your voice heard in our talk in seminar. We will often split into small groups during class, and I will expect you to take active part in such workshops and activities.

I reserve the right to raise or lower your semester grade by one step (for instance, from a B to a B+ or a B-) to reflect the consistency and quality of your work as a member of this class—both online and in person.

Missed work or plagiarism

I expect you to complete all work assigned for this course. Missing assignments count as an F. If you plagiarize any of your work for this course, the penalty will be an F for the semester, and I will report the incident to the Office of Student Conduct.

Harris | UD | Spring 2014