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Author Page Format Discussion

Class Notes 8-29

Class Notes from 8-29

From our notes in class on 8-29: Possible Page Sections

Brief Bio (dates, places, major works)

Work Under Consideration

-historical context

-key words (list)

-key quotations (list)


-related class texts/objects

-major criticism (list)


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I'd like to highlight this post again as a site for talking through page formats, given the discussions we've been having about changing and adding sections to author pages.

One thing I'd like to note about how I was initially thinking about this format concerns the "major criticism" section. By "criticism" I'd initially been thinking about scholarly responses to the author's work, but these responses would not necessarily be objections or disagreements. Rather, that section would look something like the "related class texts" just dealing with outside of class texts.

If the "major criticism" section is to remain a kind of objection/disagreement section, I think it needs to become more robust in terms of how many and what kinds of texts that get cited in the service of disagreement. Sometimes the NATC introductory material nods to such critical discussions, but when it does it is very cursory.
Also: I think it would be worth thinking about the proportion of the various sections. It looks like the bio section on some pages is pretty long, and sometimes there's an additional historical context section that is also long. What effects does it have on a wiki page to have these two sections be long (or brief)? Is there some proportion between different sections that we want to aim for across the wiki, or is that an impossibility given the range of authors/texts we're engaging?
I think the most important sections should naturally be the longest sections because people can continuously contribute to them. Biographies, on the other hand, are seemingly taken directly from other sources. I don't know if anyone would argue for it being the most important section, but its arrangement and length make it seem that way. The problem is that I think bios and historical context are still important and they lend themselves to being more robust.

I don't think we'd be able to have a static proportion across texts. However, we might think about shortening bios to relate them more intentionally to the reading(s). That is, if the biographical information doesn't relate to the text, we shouldn't include it. We should still link to a good biography for each author so people can read on if they want more general context, but everything on an author page should relate to the reading--right? The term "author page" seems to suggest the pages are about the authors, where the text takes the backseat to the discussion. I think that's part of the intention since we're trying to think of these theorists as thinkers, considering how they contribute to their field or research. However, this terming lends itself to having long and robust biographies.
I think where we're running into confusion is the definition of "most important" when it comes to sections. It seems like the pages are currently lacking uniformity due to the very question of importance. Keaton, I totally agree that some of the bios seem to be taken from other sources, but I do think that the bio (in terms of contextualization) is vital. This is where I could see myself doing some work on the wiki going forward--refining the bios to include vital information about the context of the work, but trimming the fat. Thoughts?
I think that would be a good idea, Mary. I agree the bios are important for context, but how important are they compared to other sections?

I also think it's good to refine the bios and if that's something you're interested in doing, that would be wonderful. You might discuss how that looks for other people to get ideas on what should go into bios.
I can see that helping refine the pages. I'm on it. If you (or anyone else) see any of my edits and think I've slashed too much (or not enough) of the bios, definitely weigh in. :)
Just to weigh in on this discussion:

I agree, for the most part, the bios could use a lot of trimming. Personally, I think we need to give more weight to the sections that focus on the readings, specifically on the analysis/interpretation. I've noticed several of the pages have a preponderance of "key quotes," but their relevance isn't explained in the analysis/interpretation.
I totally agree, Emily. I've been focusing on trimming the bios to relevant information only, but the other half of that equation is to flesh out the sections that matter, namely, analysis and interpretation.
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