During the summer of 2009, I developed and began posting on my own writing and researching blog. I found it to be so much more invigorating and effective than traditional forms of academic writing for enabling me to engage and experiment critically and creatively that I decided to make all of my assignments for my upcoming upper level undergraduate course, Queering Theory, blog assignments. The only non-blog part of the grade would be class participation.
My goal was to push at the limits of how blogging could or should be used in the classroom. A class about queering seemed perfect for such an experiment. By making the course rely so heavily on the blog, the students and I could work to challenge/unsettle/disrupt/queer the course. We could potentially disrupt where (not just in the seminar room, but wherever our computers were) and when (not just during the officially scheduled class time, but at 2 AM if we wanted) class engagement occurred. We might also be able to unsettle what counted as academic engagement and rigorous writing (blog entries instead of formal papers) and who counted as an expert (not just the professor or the authors of our “scholarly” texts, but the students as blog authors/posters).
My aberrant assignments were a big success. The students learned a lot and so did I. We cultivated a vibrant community, both on our blog and in the class, where we challenged, inspired and educated each other about different ways in which to practice queering theory. And we were excited and energized by our practices.
Lists! Reasons Why Students Enjoyed the Course Blog*
- Enabled us to utilize each other as resources and view “our own and each other’s work, input, ideas, and analysis as important and academically viable.”
- Encouraged us to build connections and trust and to care about and with each other.
- Provided a space for queering–“uncensored” and through whatever means of expression we were feeling. It encouraged our engagement on our own queer time (12:00 am – 7:00 am), in our own queer ways (poetry, post-its, paintings, etc.), and definitely allowed queer practices to come through and develop.
- Allowed us to experiment with what we were studying and spend less time worrying about whether or not we were thinking and writing “properly.”
- Invited us to take responsibility for our learning in new ways, as we witnessed how our learning space became what we contributed to it.
- Gave us the opportunity to push at the limits of what counts as acceptable/appropriate academic practices and methods.
*Reasons culled from student’s blog post final wrap-ups.
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