I’ve been blogging since my first year at the University of Vermont. I use blogging and Twitter as a way of communicating with people in and outside of my field. Both of these venues allow me to share my thoughts and also to help think through ideas that will later work their way into my more formal research. My personal blog is entitled As Canadian As Possible, Under the Circumstances. As its title suggests, one of my preoccupations over the last seven years has been with my experiences as a Canadian living in the United States and, more broadly, the role that each country plays (or doesn’t play) in the other’s daily life. This connects to my upcoming book project on the depiction of Canadians and Canada in US popular culture.
Blogging is a vital part of my work as a scholar, but also as a teacher. Aside from modeling for my students what it is to be someone who’s curious about the world of literature and ideas outside of the walls of the ivory tower, I also use blogging as a tool that is crucial to my own pedagogy. In every class that I teach, I have students respond to weekly blog prompts. The work that they do on the blog helps them to become more active learners. Everyone who participates in this required assignment, in other words, is asked to share their own reflections on the works we are reading in class.
As you will see if you choose to look through some of my class blogs, the work that students produce through this assignment can be transformative for them as they start to understand the works they are reading in a much different way. The fact that I make my course blogs public spaces rather than the walled-off learning spaces we find in course management systems such as Blackboard or WebCT also seems to prompt them to produce stronger work.
Here are links to the blogs from some of my current and past courses:
English 180: Topics in Canadian Literature
English 005: From Pucks to Parliament: a freshman seminar exploring Canadian culture
English 182: Topics in Colonial/Postcolonial Literatures (my focus in this course is usually on First Nations Writers from Canada)
English 086: Critical Approaches to Literature
English 252: The Canadian Postmodern (senior seminar)