Category Archives: Blogging

new blog alert: James W Schmidt’s Persistent Enlightenment

I recently discovered a new blog by James W Schmidt, whose anthology What is Enlightenment?: Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions I’ve always admired. It’s called Persistent Enlightenment, and it proposes to examine “the Enlightenment, considered both as an historical period and as an ongoing project.”

It’s only just started, but one of the first posts, about Diderot in contemporary American culture, and specifically in the NY Times, is an interesting exploration of why Diderot “ought” to have mattered to Americans from their founding forwards, but perhaps did not.  Significantly, the term “ought” is not Schmidt’s phrase, but Andrew Curran’s in his own NYTimes tribute to Diderot, and Schmidt explores the gap between is and ought in American intellectual history.

Having read Schmidt’s treatment of the intellectual history represented by the Times and its editorial choices, I wondered how large an influence Jacques Barzun might have had in the construction of a middle-brow Diderot and indeed Enlightenment in 20th century America, since it was probably his translations and introductions to Diderot that introduced me to the term Enlightenment many years ago. Thoughts?



soren hammerschmidt’s new course blog on 18th century media

I’m posting this link to Soren Hammerschmidt‘s new course blog, Eighteenth-Century Media, because I’m always interested in ways that we can make our research and teaching in eighteenth-century topics more public. This seems like an interesting approach, with blog visitors able to observe the conversations going on in the class, and follow along with the syllabus and readings, if they liked.

Here is Soren’s description of the blog and the course it emerged from:

This blog represents the public face of an MA seminar on eighteenth-century British literature and other media forms, at Ghent University in Belgium. On this blog we want to show how fascinating the media landscapes of eighteenth-century Britain were and still are, how forms of media like song, writing, painting, gardening, or stage performance interacted and intermixed with each other in that period, and what connections we can draw between the situation in the eighteenth century and our own vibrant media landscapes. You will also find the official course description, reading schedule, and links to the course materials (some of which require certain sorts of access rights) on these pages, so feel free to browse around and read and look with us. We hope you enjoy it!

So what do readers of the Long 18th think about this experiment as pedagogy?  And how might conceptualizing this period’s writing as a part of a vivid, mixed media “landscape” alter our sense of their impact?


Women’s History Carnival 2011

March is Women’s History Month, and this year International Women’s Day (8 March) is 100 years old. To mark the occasion, the History Carnival is running a Women’s History blogging event throughout the month.

To mark International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the History Carnival is inaugurating a special Women’s History Carnival for March 2011, for all blogs and blogging about the history of women, gender and feminism. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen yet, but hopefully it’ll be a bit different from the usual History Carnivals:

There will be at least one Carnival post, but we’d like to do much more than that! We’ll publicise any great blogging or themed events we come across (or you tell us about) and generally do our best to encourage discussion and bang the drum for women’s history.

And yes, that includes 18th-century literarature folk!

Ways you could take part in WHC11:

  • Write a blog post, and comment on other blogs – see the web page for recent activity
  • Nominate blog posts – your own and other bloggers’ – for the Carnival (see below)
  • Get discussion going on Twitter – the main tag is #whm; the tag for WHC is #whc11, and the tag for women historians on Twitter is #twitterstoriennes
  • Got any more suggestions? Get in touch!

I’ll be hosting the Carnival at Early Modern Notes on about 9 March, just after International Women’s Day. (There should be a second Carnival post towards the end of March as well, so don’t worry if you miss this one.) In addition to recent posts, there will be a selection of the best women’s history blogging since March last year, so you’re welcome to send your favourites too!

There are several ways you can nominate posts for the WHC:

1. The special nominations form for the WHC. (Don’t use the normal HC form for this one.)
2. Email me using my contact form.
3. On Twitter: send a tweet @historycarnival or @sharon_howard, or simply add the hashtag #whc11 to any tweet.
4. On tag a bookmark with whc11 and it will appear in the WHC Delicious feed.

blogging my swift and literary studies course, part II

This is a follow-up to earlier posts of mine about course blogs.  This one is about my evolving course blog for Swift and Literary Studies, my version of the gateway course to the English major (literature concentration). This course is designed to teach students the research process involving literature, literary criticism and literary theory.  We do this by recursively studying a single author and work, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, in the light of successive critical and theoretical approaches.

As time has gone on, I have modeled it more and more as an inquiry-driven course that stresses active learning and the acquisition, consolidation, and transfer of skills rather than coverage of a prespecified course content.  The blog enables me to do that by introducing more and more of the students’ offline inquiry process (student questions; student responses; student research) into face to face class discussion.  In this way, it provides more time on task outside the classroom, and provides many more, and more timely, forms of feedback for students.

What I typically do is begin by creating a wordpress shell each semester that I then remodel substantially after the previous semester’s iteration.  This blog is blocked to outside search engines and non-users.

Here’s a screenshot of the homepage.

The screenshot shows that I use a vanilla format for the homepage with a row of easily accessed pages that students use throughout the semester.  For example,  the Resource page

contains links to selected library resources and websites; and so forth.

The course-blog has become essential for my teaching because I use it in a variety of ways:

  • as an online forum for discussion, with periodic reading questions and responses assigned throughout the semester on the course readings, along with assignments for students to post their own questions about the course readings;
  • as a convenient place to share the links or pdfs for assignments and course readings; to direct them to particularly important resources (e.g., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), or to structure assignments to find new sources using approved paths (e.g., use the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy to learn something about Judith Butler);
  • as a venue for sharing individual and group work, whether small research assignments in background reading (e.g., what is the disciplinary background of Luce Irigaray?) or finished group research assignments like annotated bibliographies on sub-topics of Swift criticism; these become available for the whole class to critique, compare, and incorporate into their own research;
  • as a springboard for collaboration, among students but also among the various people attached to the course; students were able to compare the results of the various peer group teams in relation to various topics, but I was also able to work with the various librarians and reading support counselors who came and went through the semester by using the blog as a common forum.

One of the perennial tensions in pedagogy involves two contrary goals: of organizing all the materials of instruction so that they can be found in a single convenient place (i.e., the textbook or anthology) versus encouraging students to move beyond the predigested, preselected, preinterpreted materials of the typical textbook to show how they can apply, extend, and hopefully transfer what they learn into new contexts.  For me, the well-designed course-blog can provide enough organization and convenience, along with sufficient flexibility and potential for extension, to satisfy both demands.

NB: for further reflections about better, more reflective uses of virtual learning, see these two pieces, by some of the researchers who helped devise one of the earliest articulations of best practices in higher ed some years ago, “Seven Principles for Good Practice.”

a mid-spring blogging round-up

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  It’s not that I’ve become a convert to “slow blogging,” it’s that I’ve discovered my calling as a conference-planner.  Yeesh.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d post on a few things that have come to my notice that are too good to keep to myself.

  • EMOB and Mercurius Politicus have both noted the arrival of EEBO Interactions, a site that combines some of the best qualities of scholarly blogging and social networking.  This is an important step forward, because what it promises is a way to match the digital and technological resources represented by EEBO (and ECCO, too) with the human resources of an entire scholarly community.  This could begin a collective process of refining resources like EEBO so that they become much more than a vendor’s product.  (I think this is exactly the direction ECCO needs to go, as well)  But it won’t work unless scholars begin to take notice and contribute.  So please take a look.
  • There’s a fabulous new blog called La pensee des lumieres: Enlightenment Thinking, which calls itself “a portal to the French Enlightenment.”  There you’ll find some great primary and secondary sources on all the usual suspects.
  • George Williams’ is up and running, with some informative digital humanities and ASECS posts.
  • A very entertaining history blog called Georgian London, which is profusely illustrated.

Hope everyone is moving toward the end of their semester in a satisfying way.


it’s on (the jenny davidson event, I mean)

OK, we’re starting to get some discussion going at the Valve regarding Jenny Davidson’s Breeding.  Stop by and check it out, and I’ll have some more non-Breeding related posts here shortly.  DM

jenny davidson’s breeding, @The Valve, beginning 5/26

For those interested, I’ll be doing some guest-blogging at The Valve early next week this week, when Scott Kaufman leads a book event featuring Jenny Davidson’s Breeding beginning tomorrow (5/26).   See you there, and here, too, hopefully.  Best, DM

UPDATE: Here’s the official announcement, with the first two chapters online.  Discussion will begin tomorrow.

ASECS 2009: March 28

So what were you up to on the third day of the conference?


ASECS 2009: March 27

Good news: the conference venue has free wireless Internet access.

Bad news (for me, anyway): I appear to have killed my laptop with a wee bit of spilled water. Luckily, my data is all backed up, my insurance will cover repairs or replacement, and my iPhone allows for some connectivity.

Update (03/28/2009, 5pm): The laptop lives!

I took conference notes on my laptop yesterday, but…

Perhaps some may wish to use the comments section of this entry to write about today.


ASECS 2009: March 26

Should contributors attending this year’s meeting of ASECS have tech enough and time, please use the comments thread of this post to record your experience of the conference today.

Text? Photos? Audio? Video? Share them, please.

[See “The Art of Live Blogging,” by Beth Kanter at BlogHer (26 July, 2006).]