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“Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak.”

rachelr's picture
From Letter to Blog.doc203.5 KB


Anne Dalke's picture



My first question, for you as for most of your classmates, has to do w/ your choice of presentation: why have you attached your paper as a document, rather than posting it directly on this website? Doing so makes it less likely to be read (one more click), and also keeps it from being searchable on the internet. Were those your aims?

My second question has to do w/ your use of images: I'd recommend re-sizing them so they aren't so large--so "interrupting"--in the text; and I'm curious about your three selections--they don't seem directly connected to the paragraphs on which they are (I think?) intended as comments. Or did you have a different intent in placing them?

I think you have a great idea, here, to explore the possibility that letters might function as an "ancestor" or "precursor" to blogs; this seems an interesting exercise, usefully contrastive to our class discussion of blogs as modern day public versions of diaries. Following that analysis, I can see that blogs, like letters, involve a "back and forth" process that is lacking in the diary form--that "dialogue is key"; and that there are also similarities in format, since each entry is dated in both genres; those, I think, are useful similarities to identify. I think I am also persuaded that "letters are the closest genre to ...the compulsion to write, to share ideas, to gain affirmation... that is seen in blogs."

But then I find myself confused by where you are heading in this paper, and wanting to push back on a number of the generalities with which it is peppered: "Blogs are written by everyone"; "All different kinds of people everywhere seem to feel as if they can write anything online"; "they do not always seem as concerned about the effort that they put into their compositions"; "one of the main goals of a blog is to create a following." I want to know why you think each of those things; wherefrom those claims?

Having traced a possible genealogy that may connect the two genres, you next decide to differentiate them, and to pass judgments on the difference. Rather than an evolutionary model--letters giving way to blogs--you chose a --what would you call it?--devolutionary one, arguing that the modern form is inferior to its ancestor, and will not last long. You turn, in other words, from an examination of the use of each form to a comparative statement of value. Your analytical paper turns @ that point into a review, one intent on comparing the (absence of) "literary quality" of blogs unfavorably with that of letters. You claim that letters constitute "classic literature" in a way that blogs never will. (What's your evidence of the classical status of letters? How many English department courses focus on that genre, for instance?)

Your paper becomes, in other words, an opinion piece: "I think that the number of people commenting on blogs has been decreasing, and will continue to do so," you say; "I feel that ... letter writing ... will continue to be our primary and preferred method of communication and of affirmation"; "I do not believe that blogs have the composition that will carve them out as distinct and respected genre." Wherefrom these beliefs and feelings? What are your grounds for such claims? Where's the data you need to back them up? And, most importantly, why make such judgments? What do they add to the analysis you are conducting?

Oh, and: why do you think you "would have sworn up and down," @ the beginning of class, on your not being a blog-user, when in fact you are? What does that detail add to--how does it intersect with-- the story you are telling here?