Part of your regular work and participation will happen on our OpenLab site. When I ask you to write an OpenLab post for homework, you must write at least one cogent, robust paragraph (of at least five sentences). You must post it by 12 pm the day before it’s due, to give everyone time to read them before class. (While I prefer that you write them somewhere where you can concentrate, you may wish to optimize your time and read others’ posts on the train, for example.) I will expect you to be prepared to share from your OpenLab posts in the next day’s class.
Besides posting responses to the reading, you will use OpenLab to discuss ideas with me and your classmates, read and comment on what others have posted, and link to interesting/relevant material you have found through everyday experience as well as outside research. This material (your writing) will become part of our class meetings: we will discuss excerpts from student posts (both to facilitate writing workshops and to use as a jumping-off point for the day’s reading/discussion). In addition, everyone in the course will be reading your writing (and our course blog and all of its content are public to the larger college community), so you should spend as much effort as possible composing your writing there.
You’ll post your work as comments here, in the Discussion Forum. Please make sure that you are commenting on the right one.
Reading & Homework
The best way to learn how to write is to read—actively and voraciously—using an open and a critical mind. Throughout this course, we will be reading a variety of texts together. You will also be doing more reading, independently, for your research essays. It is crucial that you keep up with the reading to be able to fully participate in class activities and discussions. Get into the habit of annotating (taking notes) in the margins of, and separately from, all your reading. We will discuss the best and most effective ways to annotate throughout the semester.
Some of the texts we will watch and read are difficult in terms of material. Hannah Gadsby’s incendiary and genius work Nanette, for instance, discusses sexual assault, and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson discusses (and sometimes) shows sexual violence, anti-trans bigotry, and racism. It’s important for our learning together that you engage with difficult texts with a critical eye, but if you need to step out for a moment, please feel free to do so.
For a course like ours, and for any college class, you must be willing to take intellectual risks. I’ve done my best to keep the readings manageable in terms of length and content, but some will be frustratingly complex and dense. Stay with it, and read forward even when you’re unsure where the text wants to take you.
Homework assignments, whether reading or writing, are due at the start of class, and you may receive additional assignments. All reading, listed in the course calendar under the heading “Read/Watch,” must be completed before class. Often your homework for the next class will be based on the reading for that day (so you’ll be automatically engaging with it ahead of time, and should have a lot to say in the discussion!).