Twitter escultura de arena by Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr (BY)

Twitter escultura de arena by Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr (BY)

Step 1: Write what Jesse Stommel calls a “Twitter Essay.”

Over the next several weeks, we’ll focus on some of the overarching questions of the course, so let’s use this activity as a way to begin formulating our thinking about why literature matters in the 21st Century. Here are the instructions:

Why does #literature matter? Answer in a Twitter essay of 140 characters using #twitteressay. Play, innovate, incite—don’t waste a character

(The instructions above are exactly 140 characters, so this gives you a sense for how much space you have to work with.)

Post your essay on Twitter (by midnight 11/9). The only rule is that you must include the hashtags “#twitteressay” and “#literature” somewhere in your Tweet. You can add additional hashtags or links, but you can only write one Tweet and it must be exactly 140 characters. Feel free to address any aspect of literature as explored in this course. (No need to use our course hashtag unless it makes specific sense for you to include it.) Spend time carefully composing, making sure every character of your tweet is necessary and meaningful. As you work, think also about the components of a traditional essay: a hook, an argument, supporting evidence, etc. While you can take creative license in how you interpret the word “essay,” you should at least be able to make an argument (if pressed) for how your Tweet functions as an essay.

Step 2: Now, peer review.

By midnight 11/16: Search the #literature tweets from your classmates. Respond to (and, perhaps, retweet) at least three of the ones you find. In your response, analyze the choices the author made and/or offer additional thoughts. Include the author’s handle somewhere in your tweet. So, for example, if I were peer reviewing my own instructions:

@KingTawhiao’s use of “incite” in the #TwitterEssay is unusual juxtaposed with “play.” Incite often has negative connotations.

(Note that the peer review tweet does not have to be exactly 140 characters.)


Adapted from “The Twitter Essay” by Jesse Stommel.