Project: Keeping a Commonplace Book


Keep a commonplace book for this course. Collect. As the course progresses, gather and tag. As your gatherings increase, start to index, categorize, organize.

Notes on Commonplace Books

Adapted from English 115 Pasupathi

Early commonplace books typically contain works by multiple authors, often assembled with no attribution or identification, and relayed without commentary or extensive justification.

Today: Attribute. Name the author and source. Link to it if possible.

Early compilers tended to copy down what they believed contained exemplary wisdom or beauty,

You're selecting for insight.

Organizing

Early commonplace books ostensibly lack an organizing principal––at least one that readers other than the original owners can easily discern ... those who compiled such books were not making a concerted effort to keep the material ... organized for the consumption of others. In many cases, the readers who kept them simply added passages that struck them as significant at a given moment for reasons they did not see fit to record, copying additional passages later which have no obvious relationship to previous ones.

This idea stands. At the start, there's no need to create an organization.
[There is no need to] begin this project with any specific organizing principle in mind. Although you may ultimately opt to assemble passages that contain, for instance, a particular device or rely on different valences of single word for the Commonplace book you turn in, you should avoid selecting passages based on narrow criteria ... Sometime around our scheduled spring break, you can begin to contemplate what you’ve got with a more specific purpose in mind, surveying your book for patterns or remarkable distinctions in Shakespeare’s language that you believe might be worth exploring further.

Rather than start with an organizing scheme, set things up so you can tag posts. As you collect, you'll start to see categories emerge from your interests and common themes.

Outside the course


The content of your commonplace book should not simply replicate discussions from class meetings, though you may expand upon those conversations or use them as a point of departure in some cases. The best responses to the assignment, however, will attend to passages from the assigned reading that we did not discuss in class or address in exam questions or on quizzes.

Not just print. Collect passages, images, memes, stuff that connects with our themes and ideas.

Use screen shots, pictures of handwritten notes, or images from texts, ..., you may assemble your book by hand or in applications other than word processing programs.



more to come






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