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In my courses we are reading various kinds of material:

  • Primary (eighteenth-century) works of fiction and other genres.

  • Secondary (scholarly) works written in the 20th and 21st century about those 18th century works.

I provide as many of those readings as possible on Perusall, a private, social reading platform. It's one of many such options (including Manifold,, etc.) and I chose it for a variety of reasons I'm happy to discuss.  Chief among these: you can download the annotations you create. If there are accessibility issues, please let me know ASAP so I can work with you on alternative strategies for credit.

In This Course

  • For secondary readings (essays and articles), you will read them exclusively on Perusall.

  • Additional eighteenth-century material is also exclusively uploaded to Perusall. Some of these are assigned to individuals, some are optional.

Most of our primary readings have two forms:

  • Modern physical scholarly teaching editions (where available)

  •  On Perusall, I have uploaded eighteenth-century editions of those same texts.

For our main texts, our reading will be two-fold:

  • Once through in the physical edition (which is faster, clearer, and has useful notes & annotations)

  • Then again in the eighteenth-century edition on Perusall.  Here you will explore the physical details of the copy, and place discussion observations and questions on the appropriate pages.  This will help guide our class discussion -- when courses are hybrid or online-only, will allow us some asynchronous discussion time to supplement a shorter synchronous meeting schedule. 

In theory, you could choose to read the course novels online exclusively in Perusall -- I don't recommend this for folks who are new to eighteenth-century material, because you will miss out of really useful explanatory notes and supplementary material.

Perusall, According to Its Developers

"Perusall helps you master readings faster, understand the material better, and get more out of your classes. To achieve this goal, you will be collaboratively annotating our readings in community with others in your class. The help you’ll get and provide your classmates (even if you don’t know anyone personally) will get you past confusions quickly and will make the process more fun. While you read, you’ll receive rapid answers to your questions, help others resolve their questions (which also helps you learn), and advise the instructor how to make class time most productive. You can start a new annotation thread in Perusall by highlighting text, asking a question, or posting a comment; you can also add a reply or comment to an existing thread. Each thread is like a chat with one or more members of your class, and it happens in real time."


Your goals in annotating each reading assignment are

  • to stimulate discussion by posting good questions or comments

  • to help others by answering their questions.

Research shows that by annotating thoughtfully, you’ll learn more and get better grades, so here’s what “annotating thoughtfully” means:

Effective annotations:

  • deeply engage points in the readings

  • stimulate discussion

  • offer informative questions or comments

  • help others by addressing their questions or confusions.

To help you connect with classmates, you can “mention” (using the @ symbol) me or a classmate in a comment or question to have us notified by email (we’ll also see a notification immediately if online), and you’ll also be notified when we respond to your questions.

For each assignment Perusall will evaluate the annotations you submit on time (see below). Based on the overall body of your annotations, you will receive a score for each assignment.
This score is designed as a guideline for you and for me: your final calculated reading grade will weigh this information against other evidence, including in-class participation, conversations with me, and the reports of your peers. 

Academic Honesty and Perusall

All contributions are expected to be your own.  You can absolutely make connections between texts, and quote and cite material from other sources. However, pasting in content from other site and passing it off as your own content is a misuse of Perusall. Repeated infractions of this kind will be treated as every other type of academic misconduct and will, at a minimum, result in an overall Perusall score of zero for the semester.

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