deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Last fall, when I taught with [personal profile] astern, it wasn't until after we had started the semester that we realized what the ideal opening assignment ought to be. Now that we are taking a teaching hiatus, we have to give the assignment to you. This assignment will not be graded on a curve, so do your best work! We expect you to abide by the Honor Code*, which in this case means you may work together.

Your assignment:

Pick a book. In the spirit of the class we are not currently teaching, I suggest a speculative fiction work for children or young adults, but pick any book you are interested in talking about.

Now pick three types of writing off the following list. You must pick option 9, but the other two can be any you choose.

  1. A personal blog post reacting to your reading experience.
  2. A professional blog post about the text.
  3. The political response: a reading of the text on purely ideological grounds.
  4. A Goodreads or Amazon style review of the book.
  5. A professional (e.g. Kirkus, Publishers Weekly) style review. If you pick this option, read several examples, and pay attention to such things as house style, word count, ratio of summary/analysis/judgment, etc.
  6. Librarian book talk write up.
  7. Editorial analysis, from the point of view of a publisher or agent working with the manuscript.
  8. Critical scholarly discussion of the sort you would post in an educational forum discussing the text for a class.
  9. Formal critical scholarly analysis of any element of the text, as with a formal paper.


Write at least 500 words in each of your three styles (unless you are choosing to write a professional review, in which case use the word count appropriate for the house style you are choosing). Pay attention to what is different. Besides obvious changes (such as casual versus professional language), what differs? What different choices did you have to make? Did more or fewer words make things easier?

One of our goals with this hypothetical assignment was to show how, while each of these styles of writing is valuable and important -- we certainly don't think, say, personal blog posts of squee aren't valuable -- they are all wildly different. In fact, we hope some of you will choose to write both personal and professional blog posts, or both Goodreads and professional reviews, just to focus on the more subtle (but vital) differences between these types of writing.

Current students are so incredibly proficient at writing about reading, because what with blogs etc., they do so much of it. And yet at the same time, they are proficient in some very specific kinds of writing about reading (primarily personal blogs and Goodreads-style reviews, with some amount of professional blogs), and the process of showing people the requirements of the different kinds of writing is different than it used to be. Without devaluing existing proficiencies, we hope to show that high quality reactive blog post, for example, is not the same thing as scholarly forum discussion.

Over the next couple of days, we will be producing examples of each of these kinds of writing for a single book, and we will post our own examples as well as our own analysis of the differences in the writing style. Let us know here if you have tried this exercise yourself and would like us to link here to your results (whether that happens now or sometime in the future).


* Why yes, we are both bi-co, why do you ask? [Back]
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
  • "So You Want to Read YA?", a guest post by Amy Stern at Stacked. Everything she says there is completely worth reading, except for how I think Rob Thomas' later statements about his work have poisoned everything he wrote earlier in his career, to the extent that I find it impossible to talk about his earlier work in any non-negative fashion.[1]
  • "Specimens: Figurines, fishers, bugs and bats ā€“ how things in the world become sacred objects in a museum": I want to understand how things come to take their place ā€” especially in museums and collections ā€” as embodiments of knowledge, artefacts out of time and nature, provoking curiosity and wonder. How they become objectified.
  • "Fist-clenchingly poor science": But every time such fist-clenchingly poor science as the current paper is published, the prejudice is reinforced and the cause of open access publishing undermined. Thus, while Iā€™m sure everyone involved is dedicated and scrupulous, it is paramount that PLOS works harder to increase its editorial standards to reduce the chances of such embarrassingly weak science being published.
  • "Colleges Leaving Low-Income Students Behind": Schools have gone from helping to make college more affordable for those with the greatest financial need to strategically awarding merit aid to students who can increase their standings in rankings like U.S. News & World Report and bring in more revenue.






1. But then, I'm still capable of saying positive things about Ender's Gamer and Speaker for the Dead, and I'm sure plenty of other smart people feel the way about Orson Scott Card that I feel about Rob Thomas. Apparently I draw the line somewhere after "gay marriage is destroying my family" and before "women who make rape accusations are lying liars who lie." Or possibly I think Ender and Speaker are good enough books to get me past my anger at their creator; certainly I can no longer read lesser Card with any pleasure. And the highest quality Rob Thomas surpasses the quality of the worst OSC, but doesn't even come close to the best. [back]
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Amy Stern ([livejournal.com profile] bigbrotherreads) has let me be a guest blogger on her blog YA Subscription, and I started off my contributions there with a post on Francesca Lia Block's Dangerous Angels quintet. I talk about feminism, race, sexuality, and intersectionality, and I'm surprised by how much I liked the books on reread.

(I sent the post to Amy a while ago, and reading it now for the first time in ages I am embarrassed to see how many typos that are in it; I thought I proofread that thing about 17 times. But such is the blogosphere.)

Anyway, please, go over there, contribute to the conversation!

On another note, I feel like Kristin Cashore has joined the ranks of bloggers such as Ta Nahesi Coates and Slacktivist who are just too smart and useful to miss. It feels somehow dirty to say that about someone who is a friend, but I think it's true.
Page generated Jun. 28th, 2017 12:11 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios