So, I’m going to have a…

So, I'm going to have a series of questions for you guys in the next days on a topic in which you are expert -- or as expert as anyone is these days: reading blogs. :-)

I'm lucky enough to teach a course this semester in blogging, or rather 'online creative nonfiction.' I have a course description below, but here's my first question -- if you were going to categorize blogs by subject-type, what do you think are the most important / interesting types? For example, I currently have:

  • political
  • military
  • sex
  • infertility / adoption
  • parenting
  • travel
  • arts projects
  • literary / writerly
  • ethnic-focus
What else should be on that list? And what do you think is most interesting, out of the set?


Online Creative Nonfiction: From Journal to Blog to Tweet

Perhaps the most common form of creative nonfiction today is the blog -- usually maintained by an individual, ideally offering regular entries, sometimes interactive, and often including other material, such as graphics or video. Since 1994, blogging has exploded in popularity, and has evolved from the original online journal through a variety of forms to its present (and ever-changing) incarnations, including micro-blogging (such as Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets).

This course will combine a history of online creative nonfiction with in-depth analysis of certain sub-genres of blogging (topics may include political, military, infertility / adoption, parenting, travel, arts projects and ethnic-focus). Students will conduct literary analyses of these texts, and also, as an integral part of the course, maintain their own blog throughout the semester; we will consider issues of privacy, liability, danger, memory, and truth-telling within that context.

I like this quote:

"this stuff  about irritating husbands or weird rashes or family-friendly holidays, about having kids with special needs or being a single parent or being bored or going to work or staying at home, about whats on telly and what boots to buy this winter and how you dont really feel like having sex  isnt necessarily appropriate work chat, or what you want to tell your friends on the rare occasions you actually manage to get away from your children. The problem is, or was, that these questions and thoughts and concerns are also the stuff life is made of. They are both trifling and huge, silly but important, dull but gripping, ephemeral but permanent  and universal.

-- India Knight, Sunday Times

12 thoughts on “So, I’m going to have a…”

  1. Although the thought makes me shudder, “fashion” or more generally “marketing” might be an important topic for some students.

  2. Food!

    Closely followed by sustainability themed blogs (which cover everything from food and agriculture to cleaning products to sewing and other sustainable lifestyle choices).

    I think humor could be a sub-category of most of the other types too. (Political humor being the biggest.)


  3. Some other categories:

    General Life Stuff (this seems to me to be the majority of the blogs I see)

    Photos (or is this part of Arts Projects?)

    Architecture (BLDGBLOG and many others)

    Language/Linguistics (Language Log et alia)

    Links To Cool Stuff (BoingBoing, etc)

    Special interest topics—things like: Strange Maps; Telefunker (urban exploration); GraphJam (though this is maybe more like a meme-creation site than a blog—but I think there’s a blog where one person creates funny charts and such); others I’m not thinking of offhand.

    Also, there are a few webcomics that I think could be seen as creative nonfiction; are those within your purview? I’m thinking of Hyperbole and a Half, and Planet Karen, and arguably Hark, a Vagrant (though that’s usually historical rather than personal, and I suppose is as much fictional as not, so maybe this doesn’t count at all). (And I have no idea whether to count Penny Arcade in this category or not.)

  4. Oh, and what about journalists’ blogs, the ones that are published on newspapers’ and magazines’ websites? (Some, like Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates, probably count as political despite including other stuff, but there are also newspaper-reporter blogs that seem more like journalism. And then there are newspaper columns that are published in online versions of the newspapers, and I’m not sure there’s really a difference between those and journalists’ blogs, but anyway.)

    Do GLBT blogs go in the political category?

    What about pop-culture blogs?

    And where do things like Shapely Prose and Fugitivus fit in? I suppose they could go under Feminist and/or Political.

    Oh, and I forgot tech blogs.

    …Re your question about what’s most interesting, I don’t think any one of those is most interesting to me; I think most of them are interesting in various ways. But I suppose the personal-stuff ones (written by friends of mine) are the ones I’m most likely to read semi-regularly.

  5. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions!

    I realized reading these that I’m not interested at all in purely informative blogs — news, whether political, financial, etc., isn’t part of what this course covers.

    That would be fine for a sociology class on blogs, but this is a literature class. Popular lit., but still. It’s meant to be focused on creative nonfiction, so memoir, essay, etc. That kind of feel to the writing.

    And while graphic elements are great, including comics, I think I need all the blogs we talk about to have text as a strong element. So if someone has a travel or art blog, say, that’s purely photos, that wouldn’t fall under this particular course.

  6. It may say a lot about your readers that not one of us suggested Sports! I realized it when I turned on the computer I share with my husband and he had THREE sports blogs open in tabs!

  7. Some others: productivity, rationality, happiness, wisdom/inspiration; gardening, style, homes; philosophy; and nature and animals. You might want to look at for some other possible topics.

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