Guidance for Collaborative Readers

If you’re not a Discussion Leader in a given week, you’re a Collaborative Reader, and your task is to enrichen our understanding of the material by engaging with the texts in a generous way. Following Kathleen Fitzpatrick, I understand ‘generous thinking’ to work like this:

Generous Thinking [begins] by proposing that rooting the humanities in generosity, and in particular in the practices of thinking with rather than reflexively against [emphasis added] both the people and the materials with which we work, might invite more productive relationships and conversations not just among scholars but between scholars and the surrounding community. - Kathleen Fitzpatrick

That means I’m not looking for annotations that are combative or ‘critical’ in the sense of oppositional, but rather annotations that invite us to go deeper into the text. I’m looking for engagements with the text, and with each others’ posts, that embiggen our understanding.

Tips for annotations

  1. “Your annotations should add something to what is already in the text you are annotating.” Hypothesis Tips for Students.

  2. Look for what is puzzling, intriguing, or ambiguous in the text. If you read a passage, and you find yourself pausing because you’re not sure what you just read, that’s a good sign that here is something that needs unpacking.

  3. Try not to annotate whole paragraphs. Keep the focus tight - a sentence or two; sometimes even just a phrase or a single word.

  4. Use the toolbar within the Hypothesis annotation interface to emphasize your points. Use italics, bullet points, or bold text to highlight or emphasize as appropriate. Insert links to other relevant texts or annotations (every annotation has its own unique URL or ‘permalink’) if that will help to make your point. You can also insert images or youtube videos!

  5. Add tags to your annotation to categorize the nature of the annotation or the idea under discussion. As we go through the course, we will see connections emerge between the readings as a result of these tags; when you write your case study, notebook, or exit ticket, being able to see all of the annotations using a particular tag (and then link to them) will deepen all our understanding of the materials.

  6. Try to ask open ended questions, or make observations that invite more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses.

  7. Respond with generosity. If for instance, someone’s annotation is not clear to you, or goes off on a tangent etc (you feel), then try to understand the core idea, restate it and ask for clarification.

  8. No combat. You are not meant to fight for dominance or establish superiority of one idea over another here. No mansplaining.

A good annotation draws connections between what you’ve read and other things you’ve read/heard/experienced. I explicitly encourage you to connect what you read in this class with what you’re reading/doing in other classes. Also add anything you read or anything interesting you find to your Zotero library (not using Zotero? You should!)

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