Category Archives: Contributed Content

Why Blogging Matters

Rachel RueckertThis past week we recorded a podcast with BYU English alumna Rachel Rueckert. Here’s a recent online article she wrote  about her experiences in India that got 27,000 shares. On top of freelance travel writing, Rachel is working for Harvard University, creating MOOCs (massive open online courses). In her interview with BYU English Society’s “My Story” host, Davis Blount, Rachel said, straight up, that she would not have had her Harvard job or her travel writing opportunities if she had not learned to blog while at BYU.

Maybe you should be blogging.

My students have gotten internships based off of their blogging. They have been solicited to submit articles to journals. They have demonstrated publicly that they can think things through, work on projects with others, and build their ideas in response to the interactions they’ve sought out socially, online, with experts and interested parties rather than keeping their thoughts between them, their computer, and their teachers. Blogging has given them street cred they have banked on.

If you are an undergraduate, your experience with social media has probably been mostly very casual — connecting with existing friends, and maybe following a sports team or celebrities. That’s okay. But it isn’t enough. Why do I teach blogging? Because I want my students

  • to practice serious online writing and serious uses of social media
  • to connect with people beyond the classroom, the university, or the moment
  • to learn to collaborate
  • to get some legitimacy within the dominant medium

Blogging Gives Street CredThe English Society has a world of content and good purposes about which students can blog.

Our blog isn’t just a broadcast channel, another way to get the word out! It’s a proving grounds for English majors who are smart enough to realize they need to make their thinking public and practice collaborating within teams, and who realize that this is a chance to practice a skill that isn’t in the official university curriculum. Neither is getting a job, or making a name for yourself, of course.

We didn’t ask Rachel, but if she had to do it over again, I’m sure she would say that the time she spent honing her skills for writing online was as consequential as all the other good things she learned while an undergraduate.

So, blog. Blog together. Blog to make a difference for the club, for yourself, and for the future.


Disney and the English Major by Eliza Schow

In all my life, I don’t think I’ve ever been among so many Disnerds. If you don’t know that term, or if you do and you simply don’t think it’s a title that apples to you, shame on you. Go watch Aladdin. I come from Kansas, a land of people that find my love for Disney amusing. To them, Disney is classified as a genre of fantastical films that give children unrealistic expectations for life. When I came to BYU, I was ecstatic to find that if one stood in a group of students and randomly started singing “LET’s get down to business”, everyone would respond with “To deFEAT… the Huns!” At last, I had found my people.

I will admit up front that my love for Disney was founded on the catchy musical numbers, the pretty princess dresses and the even prettier boys these princesses ended up with that enraptured my seven-year old psyche. Gradually, my love for Disney became based on a personal investment I felt for the characters’ well being, (and perhaps it didn’t hurt that I still wanted to dance around in a pink ball-gown with a smiling prince looking down at me while “Once Upon a Dream” played in the background). However, it wasn’t until I wrote a 1,000-word analysis on the themes of self-fulfillment, objectification of women, and self-identity in Tangled that I realized how important it was for me as an English major to appreciate the messages woven into the stories that we think we know so well.

I feel like there is a stereotype for English majors, that in our efforts to look at a side to life with “a fresh eye”, we tend to present human nature as selfish, scheming, or hypocritical, giving off the message “Life is awful because humans are awful and that’s all there is to it”. What we’re missing, or perhaps what we’ve lost, is something that Disney can give back to us. For decades, Disney films haven’t just been entertaining and uplifting humans, but enlightening and inspiring us as well. If we English majors can take a leaf out of Disney’s book and try to present human nature as both flawed and inherently good, I do believe we can do so much more for the human spirit by giving the gift of hope, something that perhaps we are the most capable of doing.


How Digital Media Keeps Me Reading (and liking it)

Have you heard those tragic stories about people who, after spending four years (or more) completing their English major, don’t like to read anymore? To me, they’re sort of like the tales of the Loch Ness monster: people have supposedly seen it, but certainly haven’t. And I don’t intend for it to happen to me.

I think the reason such things occur (this is all conjecture, though, since like I said, I’ve yet to meet a book-less former English major) is that people get so swept up into their reading assignments for school that they forget to make reading their own experience. Then, when they graduate, they’ve forgotten how to actually enjoy reading.

Blog screenshot

Of course, when I first started book blogging, I hadn’t thought about any of this. I just thought, hey, I read a ton. Why not blog about it for the world to see?

I couldn’t have predicted how simply joining the book interwebs would both propel my reading and make me enjoy it more. We think of reading as a solitary activity–but in our digital age, it doesn’t have to be. Continue reading