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Week 11--What Genre is the Blog?

Anne Dalke's picture
We turn our attention, for the remaining weeks of this class, to the newly emergent genre of the blog. IS it a genre? What genre is it? Something we've seen before? (think: novel--> romance-->autobiography--> diary-->). Or is it a hybrid? Or something completely novel?

What examples of blogs can you call our attention to here, that might be useful as test cases for our study? What do you see? What do you think about what you see?
Louisa Amsterdam's picture

meeting in/out of the blogosphere, and privacy and blogging

I just noticed Claire's post from Tuesday, and realized that I recognized her username from the Bryn Mawr 2010 Livejournal community ( Because we never really interacted online, and I do not follow her blog, I did not have the subsequent experience of realizing that I knew someone online as well as in the non-electronic world. It was still a strange experience; I almost want to compare it to accidently bumping into someone in one place, and then finding that they are a regular part of your everyday life somewhere else (More concrete example: You step on someone's toe at a concert, and turn around and apologize. At the beginning of next semester, you find yourself sitting across from them in class).

My second reaction was a bit more complex. At first, I wanted to reply with an "Ooh, ooh! I remember you! Do you recognize me?" and post a link to my Livejournal. But then I realized that I do not want to put the link to my Livejournal up on this forum; it's part of the strange, hypocritical nature of (some, myself seemingly included) personal blogs/bloggers, where I am fine with some stranger stumbling upon the entries I have left unprotected, but not all of you. I've protected most of my more recent posts, but you can still see the angst-ridden posts I wrote between the ages of 14-17; you can also learn when and why my last romantic relationship ended and what I think I would do if I were not attending college (These last two things, among others, are unprotected because I wanted to keep a few friends without Livejournals updated on the major happenings in my life). It would make me very uncomfortable to see you all on Tuesday if I knew you would connect even the unprotected things I've written in my lj to the non-electronic me. And I really couldn't tell you why it would make me uncomfortable, as I choose to be this open potentially to strangers. The best explanation I can come up with is that it is, as is quoted in "Blogging as Social Action" ( on Japanese blogs, "karaoke for shy people." On my blog, I can be the person I usually only reveal to my closest friends, not the shy, polite, studious person I can't seem to escape being in front of most others. There is something very liberating in this.  

M. Gallagher's picture

Oddly enough, I met Claire

Oddly enough, I met Claire online through LJ before meeting her in class-- which wasn't that terribly weird, as I've also met my roommate from last year and two other people first on the interet and then in person. Still, it's interesting as I respond to many of her posts and she to some of mine, but I still don't even see her much in person.

Anyhow, I decided to sign out of my LJ account to see which entries were unlocked on Claire's journal (and to see where I commented/what my comments looked like without my normal paradigm). It was rather interesting- yet I still don't want to just tell people my identity on this forum (not that it's too hard to find which one is me) because my blog isn't a complete and holistic expression of me, but rather a slice with many strange deviations, which is probably not the first "social" interaction I would like people in the class to experience. I mean, there's reasons I join groups (which show up on my profile) that have very little to do with the group itself. However, I feel that I mind less if people stumble across my journal, figure out it's me from the information they're given, and then ask questions or say hello.

So, I guess I don't want to be limited to the "blog" me that I create, rather than your choice (Louisa) to limit people from seeing the "blog" me instead of the real me.

Claire Ceriani's picture

I know what you mean, I've

I know what you mean, I've had those sorts of weird meetings.  When I started on LJ, the only people I knew on it were my friends from school.  So that wasn't too strange.  Then I started joining communities and making friends with people I had never, and probably would never, actually meet in real life.  And that didn't seem too strange either.  But then I started meeting people in the BMC '10 community and getting to know them as virtual friends over the summer.  And suddenly, I'm living across the hall from LJ friends and taking classes with them, and it was like meeting people for the first time AGAIN.
Calderon's picture

Last week



Essay due Monday the 28th

Scarlet Letter:

Hanna was thinking how writing helps people forget and helpsothers remember,

Do you think that Hawthorn forgot about the guilt? Was hepeaceful after he finished the novel?

Pearl’s faith: how much of the self can one know? How muchof the private self can we know? Scarlet Letter is about the crow…


In The Scarlet Letter:

...The Old World, with its crowds and cities,offered them a more eligible shelter and concealment than the wilds of NewEngland, or all America, with it’s...few settlements (153)...The crowd was in atumult. The men of rank and dignity...were so taken by surprise, and soperplexed as to the purport of what they saw...that they remained silent andinactive spectators.... they beheld the minister...approach the scaffold, andascend its steps...Old Roger Chillingworth followed..."there was no oneplace so secret...where thou couldst have escaped me, --save on this veryscaffold" (179).

How can being so public become a way of being so secret?


Move from Hawthorn: Crow operates on the movie, a theoryabout film resection, what happens when they have shared experience…privatelife gets constructive of public life…



Are a form of mass experience

Some of the definitions of blogs during class

Blog: an illusion of transparency, way in which socialprotest have become public, a story told my many, a place to express one’sself, a community, a social form, and a third world of expressions, a space forrandomness…


We blog:

It is a global autobiography project that everybody works on

Neil: the idea of writing a text can actually shape the lifeof someone who is writing it

Hard to know what is the real or copy? 

Why are blogs so hot? Because they promote self-expression,no labels, no membership, and take care of the self through writing

 Another reasonwhy blogs are so hot is that this an unstable time, and blogs promote tostabilized one’s self through writing

Writing a blog is like going to a mass ball because  one can say what one cannot say face toface


Hannah Mueller's picture

Junot Díaz

This does not have much to do with blogs, but with genres in general (hah) and how they relate to life...

On Thursday I heard Junot Díaz speak at Haverford. He just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I read in my Spanish class last semester--I recommend it to everyone. I am still excited about his talk 3 days afterwards, it was fascinating and he is just such a cool (or as he would say, "dope") person.

Anyway one thing he talked about that related to genre was how he thinks about fantasy, history, and dictatorships. (His book is about a fantasy-loving Dominican nerd named Oscar who lives in NJ, and his family in the DR during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship). Basically, fantasy/history/dicatorships all have the same structure in that they are controlled, self-contained worlds that have their own rules. For example, things can happen in Narnia or Middle Earth that can't happen at Bryn Mawr in 2008, or in a realistic fiction novel. In the same way, the rules for social interactions, technology, etc. at Bryn Mawr in 1895 were not what they are today (there wouldn't be computers-that would be against the rules). And during the Trujillo dicatorship, an atmosphere was created where it was normal for people to disappear without a trace and for killings and beatings to happen with no accountability, whereas outside a dictatorship that would be totally unacceptable.

I thought this was amazing. It's like genre is everywhere, because genre is the rules. We apply genre to literature, and blogs, but in a larger sense everything is decided by the rules we (society?) build up around our lives. Díaz said that there is something "sinister" about our desire for fantasy/fiction, because it is so closly related to our acceptance of other rules/realities. Dicatorships wouldn't exist if people didn't buy into the rules, the fantasy world, that dictators set up. If anyone can formulate a genre, then anything can happen within the "world" of that genre--from unicorns to genocide.


Calderon's picture

CalderonI heard about him...


I heard about him... I wanted to go so bad but I couldn't!!! This week Enrique Gari is going to talk about Cuba and want to go and see how genre applies to what he will talk about. 

AF's picture

That Lecture is awesome!

Okay so I've been sitting in the BMC Library (Cannady to be specific) for the past oh 76 minutes watching that amazing lecture that Marina posted. It's so great! Now you have two recommendations to watch it. So listen!

Under the video is a link to his blog too, if anyone's interested....I haven't had a chance to look yet.

I've been wandering through the world of blogs and i'll let you know if i find anything worth while.


Marina Gallo's picture


In honor of the conversation I had with my group today about an open discussion in blogs..maybe off topic at times I have for the class a link to a lecture from a CMU professor. It was really powerful..all 76 minutes, which I actually sat and watched in my own time. Surprising since we go to class all might thinking going home and watching a prof give a lecture would be unappealing, but it was not.

It really has nothing to do with blogs, but it was such a great lecture that I had to share it! 


Christina Harview's picture

Marina is Right

I saw this lecture a few months ago and found that I could not turn the damn thing off. It is sickeningly inspirational and I just could not tear my ears from this man's optimistic ideas and thoughts. He is right about so much; I found myself agreeing with many things he said. The sad thing is that he requires change from people. If I know people, that change probably won't occur in most. Well, he made it clear that the lecture was meant for his children so maybe they have a chance at changing before it is too late. Or, maybe they will find that the weight of their father's expectations is so strong that they can't take it anymore.

Well, I found it a beautiful piece of art all in itself. The strength in that man is phenomenal.

Christina Harview's picture

Marina is Right

I saw this lecture a few months ago and found that I could not turn the damn thing off. It is sickeningly inspirational and I just could not tear my ears from this man's optimistic ideas and thoughts. He is right about so much; I found myself agreeing with many things he said. The sad thing is that he requires change from people. If I know people, that change probably won't occur in most. Well, he made it clear that the lecture was meant for his children so maybe they have a chance at changing before it is too late. Or, maybe they will find that the weight of their father's expectations is so strong that they can't take it anymore.

Well, I found it a beautiful piece of art all in itself. The strength in that man is phenomenal.

akeefe's picture

It's neat

Initially, I was a little confused about what to post this week, as I don't read blogs. It's not because, I don't want to, I'm just not quite a part of the 21st Century yet, but all of that can change. As I said in class, Xanga was my first experience with blogging. I jumped on at the tail end, when really only the core bloggers were left. I got one, because many of friends had one, but found myself not quite understanding it's use once I had one. The "function" didn't seem to be a part of the genre. Some people seemed to be using it as diary, others to expressing things they'd been thinking about, publish their creative writing, and just keep in touch, and up to date. I found it interesting that our discussion on Tuesday seemed to discuss the nature of blogging in terms of the community online it make, but for me, having a blog became an essential part of being accepted into a community in "real life." Since this time, I think Facebook has filled part of the role that Xanga did. Facebook functions much more to keep people in touch, and less for publishing or diary sake, and new sites have been created to fill this void. I hadn't noticed it before, but it's kind of like evolution.

Last thought before I sign off. I was talking to one of my very good friends who is now in Washington D.C. She was one of the hard core bloggers I mentioned, and still keeps a pretty active site. We got talking on the subject of blogs, and she said that she felt "validated" that blogging was being discussed in an academic setting. I thought that was neat.

Calderon's picture

CalderonThe other day I said


The other day I said i wanted to talk about the economic side of blogs so here is a blog on how to actually make money creating blogs!!!


Calderon's picture



I think that we have talked about personal and public blogs. I am more interested in the publicblog than the personal. I like this blog

 Here is another great blog to look at.


Claire Ceriani's picture

Since a few people were

Since a few people were curious, here's what a LiveJournal looks like.  Or at least, what mine looks like.  About half of the entries are not visible, because you have to have an account and be on my friends list to access them, but these are entries I've left public.

One Student's picture

Mind if I friend you? I'm

Mind if I friend you? I'm omnivorously ...
Claire Ceriani's picture

Not at all!  Further uses

Not at all!  Further uses of blogs in action.
Hannah Mueller's picture


Thanks for this link--I like the design of your LJ, and I especially love that Shark Runner game you posted, that is amazing. For those who haven't seen it, you can launch a virtual boat and search for real sharks that are constantly tracked by GPS. Talk about the intersection of "real life" and the internet. It's kind of scary to think what else this technology could be (is already?) applied to--stalking people as well as sharks, maybe.  Weird.
Marina Gallo's picture


Here is a blog that catches a lot of media attention:

It makes fun of celebrities a lot and that is interesting to the public..kinda reminded me of What White People Like because I felt like that blog (WWPL) was making fun of white people.  

Christina Harview's picture

Blog, blog, blog, blog - try saying that five times fast.

Interestingly enough, I found myself wondering, as I was choosing blogs to share with you all, what a blog was.

I found one blog that is rarely updated and which does not include the option for others to comment. It is, however, extremely grammatically correct along with narcissistic, crude, and downright offensive. But I love it anyway. Although quite amusing, it is not really the best page in the universe. For those who feel overwhelmed, I would suggest heading to the bottom of the page and reading the topics under "Read these classics or go to hell." Enjoy.

Another blog, updated more than once a day, is a quite interesting source of other people’s ideas and creations. The author rarely writes a long and detailed blog about his opinions and thoughts. Instead, he usually tells a story or provides a picture, comic, or video that may interest the reader. Maybe the friendly atheist is being a bit too friendly by not voicing his opinions. Oh well, I form some of my own by reading it so I guess he has at least achieved something.

Yet another blog that I enjoy fits the more stereotypical definition of a blog. The author updates the blog often; he talks about his life, his opinions, and the world around him. He is quite funny and entertaining. He has a comments section where people can write anonymous comments regarding his posts. The site name is a mouthful: it is pharyngula.

And hark! Be that another blog that I see, rising from the horizon like a great white whale? But this time, it is a normal blog in disguise; this one is written by science writers. Not just normal science writers, but ones who work for nature. This blog keeps you updated on all the goings-on in the world of science and the great beyond.

Heavens me… where does that leave us? What genre does a blog belong to? Must it be updated often? Must it include a section for outside comments from readers? Must it be by hired writers or by freelancers? Must it include its own original content? What a strange and unruly world this train of thought has left us in.

Perhaps we chose the wrong path, the wrong trajectory. Perhaps the blog is in fact straightforward and simple to categorize. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps: but rather, not. I predict that the genre of the blog will be just as murky (or maybe more) as the previous genres we have tried to simplify.

Some core differences between blogs and books: the ability to edit and the ability to respond to comments. Books, however, have the tendency to be trusted more than blogs. Books have been weeded out and labeled by someone as worthy of our eyes. Blogs, on the other hand, are a case of first generation ideas that have not been run through an editor, a printing press, or a critic before entering our brain. On the other hand, its faster shutter speed has allowed the blog’s view of the world to dominate the present, up to date, here-and-now opinions.

Will blogs ever replace books? I don’t think so—their qualities are so different and their benefits and setbacks so defining, that one could never replace the other. Instead, the blogs will probably run off with the books and form a giant orgy of multiplicity; the spawn will be a completely new genre that we cannot even fathom. Will it take up the ‘best’ characteristics of both? Or will it, inevitably, take up the worst?

I am happy to wait and see. I wouldn’t dare spoil the ending for myself by guessing.

M. Gallagher's picture

I seem to forget to subject these pretty often

As I mentioned in class, Maddox wrote a book, too. There was also a quote concerning him and anonymity floating around my mind somewhere, but yeah. Can't really trust that site, anyhow.

Just thought it would be interesting to bring up that he wrote the book as a string of essays, rather like his website. And yet, it's a book. So, does that make his website not a blog (I never really thought of it as one, but it does seem to fit what we've defined) or his book not a book? Or, is it a sort of precursor to the spawn of the "giant orgy of multiplicity"? Also, hats off to the blog links and an appropriate smirk to your pharynx/pharyngula/mouthful pun.

Christina Harview's picture

I want that book.

Yeah, I would love to hold that book in my hands. Every damn thing that guy writes is repulsively offensive, blatantly rude, and markedly arrogant. Nonetheless, I love it. I don’t know why, but I really do love it.

Thanks for the link.

Christina Harview's picture

Vague Genre Movie

Oh yeah, so this movie was just made to make fun of the movies made to make fun of movies (woa) in a specific genre such as "Scary Movie" or "Superhero Movie" or "Not Another Teen Movie" or "Date Movie" or "Epic Movie."

It is mildly relevant and mildly funny so I thought some people may mildly enjoy it.

Christina Harview's picture

Web of Influence

Here is the blog that we made for my CSEM class freshman year. Dibs to anyone who can figure out which username is mine.

Louisa Amsterdam's picture

In Which "Stuff White People Like" Gets Me Confused

Admittedly, I've not (yet) done much exploration into the wide world of blogs; my experience with them has mostly been reading the very casual blogs or web diaries (I am guessing we will be discussing the distinction between the two in class; if not, I'll come back to it here at some later date) of real-life friends. A couple of nights ago, however, I trolled around "Stuff White People Like," specifically the "Diversity" post ( What I found especially interesting about the post was not its content, but the responses to it by readers. I can't make sense of the author's agenda or intent, and, it seems, neither can the readers. Some seem confused, some outraged, some amused, some in sincere agreement, and many maintaining the mock-sincere, provocative, and smug tone of the author. I am not sure what the sub-genre of this blog is (Satire, maybe?), or if it even fits into the genre of blog; I make the latter statement because it seems so far removed from an author. It is almost the product of someone's ultra-sarcastic (?) team of split personalities.

Calderon's picture

CalderonI think that blogs


I think that blogs are great because unlike books there is a response to my doubts, thoughts, beliefs, political views and so on. I think that I also like it so much because it gives me time to think more (I don’think too fast) and then write my response to what the comment on the blog isabout.  I love books and think thatthey are very different than blogs. On “Blogging as an emerging genre” there is a post by Dr. K and he makes the case that blogs can’t ever be as good as having a conversation face to face, because blogs are superficial. But the problem is that he is trying to compare two very different things. I think that a blog changes its views and has many voices, while a book has only have a few or sometimes just one.  Also, I am not always interested in having conversation, because sometimes I can’t think of all the things I can say during an educated argument, but the blog gives time to think and answer when I am ready. There are so many different blogs and what they might mean to people is different. For me I think of blogs not only as a genre, but a tripback in three seconds to my country (or to any place I feel like).  I look at this blog  daily. I am planning on writing my paper on this blog ( I am sorry it’s a Spanish blog) and I would really appreciate if some of you guys tell me what you think about it!!! I think that we can really talk about the economic point of view of blogs and how they have become another form of market to some and a social form to others.


M. Gallagher's picture

Is the "Guatemala in 360

Is the "Guatemala in 360 degrees" blog widely referenced? It's quite astounding and I'm enjoying learning about the culture and history of Guatemala, but it is interesting that it sometimes seems to be written for tourists and sometimes calls to those who have experienced time in Guatemala to add to the discussion with their own comments.

I only got to glance through the first few pages of posts, so I'm sure there's much more that I could talk about-- I'd be interested to re-look at the blog with the paradigm of the focus of your paper in mind to see what I lock onto as pertinent in the blog.

Claire Ceriani's picture

Oddly enough, I have at

Oddly enough, I have at least partly read, if not followed, all the blogs already mentioned.  I shall add a few more to the list.  Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert), who is good at political rants and satire No God Blog, which serves as both a news source for atheists and a space for freedom-from-religion arguments for interesting news stories

And they're all pretty different from each other.  I think of blogs more as structures, in the way that magazines are different from newspapers, which are different from novels, which are different from plays.  But blogs can literally be about anything, written in any style, by anyone with an internet connection.  But maybe that's the unifying factor that makes them all one genre.  Blogs don't go through editors and publishers in the way that books do, even if someone else reads through the blog before each posting.  The writer can still post exactly what they want in most cases.  They're an unfiltered look at a person's thoughts (other than the filters the writer herself uses).

M. Gallagher's picture


I was thinking about the blogs I read/used to read and came to an interesting conclusion: the ones that I kept with for any length of time were written by authors who are known for writing and publishing genres other than that of blogs (novels, short stories, non-fiction, screenplays, and normally all of the above).

Sci-fi Authors: Neil Gaiman's journal, which normally has some interesting comments on something or other. John Scalzi's Whatever which is further interesting because I think this is the Blog he doesn't get paid for writing (he also writes for some AOL page). I haven't read this in a while, though.

--Not Sci-fi: Stephen Fry Not updated too often-- and lately it's been podcasts, anyhow.

I was wondering if perhaps it's because their styles are more like normal prose? Or maybe I'm just happier with them as people, so I'm willing to read a blog.

I also read a few comics which update regularly and feel almost like blogs-- and even the LJ blog of one of the comic artists. I also read a lot of syndicated RSS feeds, which I couldn't read when they weren't appearing in the same page as blogs I read; So, while I like blogs for their interesting hyperlinks and information, I obviously need a personal connection to keep my interest.

Claire Ceriani's picture

Also important, you can

Also important, you can learn a lot about sushi and fountain pens from Neil Gaiman's journal.
M. Gallagher's picture

And creepy

And creepy Barbie-headed-flashlight-pen-things and cool "Cities at Night" videos made by astronauts. Frankly, I'm pretty well assured I've actually learned more, but yes. Those were good.

Hannah Mueller's picture

A blog that I don't read

A blog that I don't read very often but love the premise of is Overheard in New York. It's written by anyone who has overhead something worth remarking on in the city. Incidentally, one entry reminded me of one of the issues in Laurie Mcneill's article. She mentions realizing that she had "brought my book culture values to bear on texts not meant to be read in this way". In the same way that Ebonics is not ungrammatical simply because it is not standard English, "cyberspeak" has its own rules. Perhaps more importantly, blogs don't just break the rules of the diary genre: they make new ones, and create a new genre in the process. I'm looking forward to talking about this is class.

Anne Dalke's picture

And what are the costs of blogging?

The New York Times reports today on the strain of being one of the new "information workers" who have emerged in response to the "always-on" news cycle that is the Internet:
In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop