evaluating posts & essays

You are working in the realm of public intellectual writing, which lies somewhere in between informal blogging and the formal research articles and books you are reading. You can take Roger Lewis’s essays on architecture in The Washington Post as a good set of models for the essays. The blog is working as drafting and peer response platform, so it should mimic many of those same qualities, but add a conversational give and take.


Each should be about 100-200 words, maybe 1-2 substantive paragraphs, in which you:

  • Highlight one or two key concepts, terms, methods, or ideas from the assigned readings or videos, with some specificity. You’re not working for a comprehensive summary, just one thing that struck you as interesting, discussed in some detail.
  • Raise new questions, perhaps pointing to some limitations or problems you might see with the scholars’ arguments or their application to the example.

Each post is credit/no-credit; Bb’s grade book column will show the % you have received credit for.


Since your goal in these essays is to bring different (disciplinary) frames of analysis together and apply them in new ways, responding to prior scholarship and/or making original use of sources, my grading scheme is designed to highlight qualitative differences in those writerly tasks. I use the 4.0 scale (A=4.0, A-=3.7, B+=3.3, etc.).

Citation style: MLA: Discuss your sources in the text–e.g., “Brucetti argues that . . . .” Cite page numbers (when applicable) parenthetically. Include a “References” list at the end with full citations.

A = Exploits the limitations of all sources to forward your own interpretative agenda.

B = Juxtaposes sources in a way that reveals some original insight, but tends to remain wholly within one or more points of view of the scholars rather than establishing a critical, independent view.

C = Ably and accurately summarizes sources without assessing them or using them to interrogate each other with any substance. May do much B level work, but may be lacking in specific detail; may remain at a more vague level.

D/F = Misconstrues sources or indicate very little engagement with them. Must rewrite.

I may add +/- to indicate particular strengths/weaknesses w/in each grade range. Mildly careless proof-reading or lack of citation, for example, will earn a 1/3 grade demotion.