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The Madness Project

The class received my presentation well, and I’m now into the writing phase.  I’m comparing the madness of Mustafa in Season of Migration to the North with the madness of Zahra in The Story of Zahra. In my quest to change up the form of this “essay,” I’m doing it as a series of blog posts.  Anyone who wants to follow it can look here.

So far, I’m struggling to get away from the linear, text-only form that I’ve been decrying in such big words.  The blog tool has to put the latest entry on top, so everything appears in the reverse order of writing (assuming I write in order, which is sort of true).  I can circumvent that problem by manipulating dates, but then, of course, I’m undermining one of the key elements of the technology I’m trying out.  (Side note: it turns out that you can manipulate the date of any blog entry, making it appear to have been written at whatever time you wish you had written it)!   I think I’ll have a few opportunities to insert links, but images and sound don’t have an obvious connection to this project in my mind.  Maybe a reader will give me a new perspective!  It’s the interactivity that I’m hoping might be valuable.  In blog form, an essay isn’t a dead thing when it is written; it has the potential to stimulate more learning and conversation.  If people post comments, then it can grow and change.  I see great classroom potential in that aspect of it.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that blog posts need to be relatively short, so it makes sense to publish the essay in sections.  But writing later sections can make me want to change things.  If early parts are already published…what do I do?  There’s also the problem of polishing sufficiently for publication before I’m finished with all the writing.  It’s tempting to keep rewriting the beginning and not get any further.  I also haven’t yet settled on a great title for the whole thing.  Titles often come last, at least for me.  So this experiment with serious writing in blog format has its challenges.

Oh well.  I’m sending out the link to the project blog today, and I’ll see how things unfold.  Working title is “Mustafa Sa’eed and Zahra: Contrasting Forms of Madness in Two Arabic Novels.”   Once I write a couple more sections, there’s going to be something much more interesting and specific to use for the title, but that will have to do for the moment.

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