Victorian Poetry Network "much to do with Victorian poetry"

Presenting our new Victorian Poetry wiki
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Last semester my PhD student, Caley Ehnes, taught a Victorian Poetry upper-level class at UVic and created a wiki through VPN as part of the students’ assignments. Caley’s experience was extremely positive: the students were motivated to write for a web publication and they experienced a different form of academic writing (fact-driven, descriptive, markedly different from the research essay or close reading). Only the best wiki entries were chosen, after editing and vetting by the instructor.

The only significant downside was the platform used, which made navigation through the wiki a tricky business. There are two new developments this semester, which we’re really excited about. First, the wiki platform has moved to wikispaces, where you will find the new home of The Victorian Poetry, Poetics and Contexts Wiki. And, second, the wiki is a collaborative effort of a team of multi-institutional Victorian poetry instructors (the editors and vetters) and their students. Our team so far is myself, as general editor, with the enthusiastic and adventurous editor-instructors Caley Ehnes, Melissa Gregory, Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi, Yisrael Levin and Andrea Rehn.

Over the last few months we’ve been planning out the wiki and thinking over some thorny pedagogical issues. This phase of the wiki is experimental, and that future versions will probably involve more student team work and peer editing — something which a cross-institutional project makes particularly appealing. We’re still thinking over what role graduate students might play in the wiki in the future. We’re also figuring out to what extent the wiki needs rules, protocols, and frameworks to make it academically useful to other students, but balancing this with the wiki tradition of a community of author-centred writing. Ultimately the editors would hope to write about what we’ve learned from the wiki project in a collaborative essay on digital pedagogy.

Our aim overall is (1) to create a one-stop resource specifically for Victorian poetry readers and students (undergraduate and graduate) on wide number of topics on the poetry, poetics and contexts of the period; (2) to offer students the opportunity of writing encyclopedic-style essays, fact-driven and explanatory (some instructors are positioning the wiki entry as the lead assignment in a course, and others using the entry as preparation for a longer, more interpretative research essay); (3) to increase the profile of Victorian poetry studies on the web.

We would like to hear from any other instructor who would like to collaborate with us in the future.

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