I decided to incorporate Tumblr into selected courses starting this year since so much amazing fandom commentary (both text and visual) appears there. The class I chose to start with was English 388, Gender and Futures.
My tumblr is profrobin.tumblr.com, and I’ll be using it in future courses (as applicable!). My students were asked to set up their own tumblrs, and we’re following each other. Here is the information
Introduction to English 388 Genders and Futures (Dr. Robin Anne Reid, Literature and Languages, Texas A&M University-Commerce
I set up this Tumblr to explore using a new social media site in my classes: it was a busy, busy, hectic, and did I mention, busy fall, so I haven’t posted much, or even read much over here, but here’s the information on the class who are the first to have a Tumblr assignment!
The class is a new one (for me!), called:
Course Description: Genders and Futures
The focus for the Fall 2014 class is “Genders and Futures.” We will be reading six science fiction novels (SF) set in “near future” settings on Earth (no aliens, sorry, but there are zombies in one!). Many of these novels deal with the realities that the world is facing today, often in rather dark detail (with dystopian elements). Science fiction as a genre centers on asking “what if” questions, speculating on likely outcomes rather than trying to predict what will happen, and the Near Future SF genre is very different than Far Future SF: “The near future, by contrast [to Far Future SF], is a world which is imminently real – one of which we can have no definite knowledge, which exists only imaginatively and hypothetically, but which is nevertheless a world in which (or something like it) we may one day have to live, and towards which our present plans and ambitions must be directed” (paragraph 1, http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/near_future). We’ll be reading and discussing the novels in this class through the critical lens of gender and cultural studies.
It was developed to serve both as an upper-level literature course (which can be taught by different faculty in my department, and can be taken more than once by students when the topic changes), and to fulfill the requirements of the gender minor (that took over eighteen years to start here at A&M-Commerce).
I’ve integrated the internet generally in two ways in the class: first, there are weekly readings that go along with the novels I’ve assigned, and those weekly readings come not from a textbook but from the ongoing discussions in the sff community about gender and science fiction. Second, students are not writing a traditional liteary analysis essay; instead, they are writing a series of short individual projects that are designed to be posted as Tumblr posts.
Here is the project information from the syllabus:
30% Individual Project: Eight Tumblr Posts
The individual projects for this semester are a sequence of short essays which will be revised in order to post on Tumblr. The essays will be developed through a process of exploration (in journals and discussions), drafting (revision is expected on the Tumblr posts), and final posting on Tumblr. Each Tumblr post will be 700-1000 words long, written to assigned topics. Some posts will be analytical in nature, others will be creative and transformative. Three posts will compare and contrast gender constructions in two of the assigned novels. Two posts will analyze online reviews and commentary on an assigned novel, especially focusing on issues of gender. Two posts will analyze assigned secondary readings, and the final post will be your speculation on genders in the near future.
Here are the specific student learning outcomes for the Tumblr Projects (actually, all the outcomes for the class involve the Tumblr projects now that I look at them!):
Student Learning Outcomes:
Learners will demonstrate that they:
- can apply terminology for concepts commonly associated with gender studies correctly in their writing. Method of assessment: selected posts in the discussion forums and the final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can synthesize concepts of gender in ways that reflect the complicated cultural, political, and social contexts surrounding the concept rather than in binary or essentialist ways. Method of assessment: selected reading journals and the final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can analyze and synthesize arguments about gender in texts such as novels, blog posts, social media discussions, etc. Method of assessment: selected reading journals, and the final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can analyze gender constructions in science fiction novels. Method of assessment: final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can write multiple drafts marked by increasing clarity and understanding to show using writing as a tool of discovery, learning, and creative thinking. Method of assessment: the rough and final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can evaluate, analyze, and use secondary sources located on the internet for their projects. The sources they are expected to use are assigned readings in class that include reviews and op-ed columns (newspapers and magazines) and fan discussions and commentary (at social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter; fan discussion forums; blog posts and comments). Method of assessment: selected reading journals and the final drafts of selected individual projects.
- can integrate material from primary and secondary sources according to appropriate documentation conventions, using source material honestly and appropriately; that they can write summaries and paraphrases, and follow the guidelines from the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) guidelines (Handbook, 7th edition). Method of assessment: Pre-Test and Post-Text, the Plagiarism Prevention Unit, and the final drafts of selected individual projects.