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Catch-Up with Nathan (and Victoria): Chapter V

Posted by on Thursday, November 29, 2012 in Academics, Blog, Books, College Life, Creative Writing, General Information, Professors, Speakers, Teachers.

This, the fifth installment of the Catch-Up Chronicles, is dedicated to my blogging counterpart, Victoria. May she ever attempt to be my equal.

Bless her heart.

So, as many of you may know, I have a blog. I’ve been writing for Inside ‘Dores for almost two years, and it’s proven to be a great experience – I’m able to share my frustrations and my elations, and I’ve found a cool (albeit public) way to catalog some of the experiences I have at Vanderbilt. I’ve enjoyed the blogging experience so much, in fact, that this semester I took a class far removed from my normal engineering courses: Intermediate Nonfiction Writing Seminar – The Art of Blogging!

Taught by Nashville energy/climate journalist Amanda Little, The Art of Blogging is a rookie course at Vandy. To be a little pedantic about the purpose of the class, it’s intended to explore the different genres of blogs, the effects of the increased reader-writer interaction on online resources, and the relationships between blogging and more traditional journalism. We stay up-to-date on five notable blogs plus one of our own choosing, and we generally come to class each week having read a book on the impact or history of blogging (though one week introduced me to On Writing Well by Zinsser, which I enjoyed immensely and would recommend to anyone interested in writing nonfiction). Finally, and (perhaps) most obviously, we each write weekly updates for our own blogs!

But, Nathan! I can hear you objecting. You definitely haven’t updated this blog every week! Dear reader, that’s because, being such an Internet presence, I write a second blog for class. Behold!

This is what my blog looks like! Except in real life it's bigger.

If you’re too obstinate to actually click the link, I’ll spoil the fun and tell you that it’s a literature blog, the bulk of which involves me writing each week on a specific work and why it’s timely and important today. Specifics aside, it’s been a great (if sometimes painful) learning experience to write on a different topic than my normal, rather sparse autobiographical admissions articles. I can definitely see changes in my writing style and a more confident voice even over the course of just one update a week for the semester.

As for in-class activities, apart from discussing readings and critiquing one another’s posts, we occasionally have some pretty awesome guest speakers. In the past, Scott Rosenberg and Vanderbilt’s own Kate Daniels (Radcliffe Institute Fellow for poetry!) have spoken to the class via Skype and in person, respectively. The high-powered (and high-income) Nick Denton of the lucrative Gawker network held an online chat with the class, and Professor Little’s own brother, Rufus Griscom, Skyped us in her living room to talk about his Disney-owned blog, Babble. Today’s class, however, was my personal favorite, as we video chatted with both David Roberts of Grist (who is, as I suspected, one cool dude) and Amy Davidson, editor of the New Yorker!!! As someone with an avid interest in literature (and an aspiring writer someday, if I’m being honest), getting the opportunity to have face time and small-group interaction with someone as influential (and friendly, actually) as Ms. Davidson is a huge privilege.

At this point, there’s very little I could say to make this class sound any cooler, so…that’s it. Stay tuned for another edition of the Catch-Up Chronicles from Toria Barner, champion of Inside ‘Dores.

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