Perusall Readings & Annotations

Short, no-nonsense explanation of this assignment:

Each week you are responsible for reading/watching a combination of short video lectures and essays (or sometimes video essays). All of these will be hosted on the collective annotation tool Perusall. Each week, as you read/watch on Perusall, you’ll need to write a minimum of two annotations per reading/video; one your own commentary, and another responding to a fellow students comments. (Two comments per reading would be average engagement; feel free to do more and hopefully conversations will get flowing!) Also, some people like to leave fewer, longer comments, while others like to leave many, shorter comments. Either style is fine and both enrich the conversation! (Though two should really be the minimum, even for longer responses.)

In these annotations, you can connect readings to screenings, to explore connections to other contexts if you see them, and pose any questions that may come to you as part of the process. Your annotations and responses are due by Monday night, so I recommend getting the first round of annotations complete earlier, so you can respond to other people on Monday. These weekly annotation discussions should demonstrate that you’re engaging with the readings, but at the same time, they’re an opportunity for you to ask questions on topics/concepts that you’re unclear about. You have one freebie to skip a week.

Expanded explantion and tips for this assignment, adapted from Professor Sureshi M. Jayawardene, Ph.D (Department of Africana Studies at SDSU) with thanks!

This assignment is intended to cultivate a collaborative reading experience that allows us all to engage one another and the materials in a thoughtful, social, and dynamic way. Annotating in detail and in this collaborative form helps us to further develop our analytic and strategic reading skills, as well as deepening our understanding of the course material.

What is annotation? It is a note added to a book, article, image, or other kind of text as a comment or explanation. Annotation is an ancient learning practice that facilitates deep engagement with a text and aids comprehension and analyses.

Using the online Perusall tool, we will read and annotate the weekly readings together. This ensures that you all are reading and picking up key ideas, theories, and arguments in the reading materials. Ideally, these annotations will help all of us understand the readings and screenings, and make connections across texts more easily. Annotations can be tricky because the first few people to annotate an article will not get as much out of the exercise. So, you should do one read of the articles early on and make your initial annotations at this time (I’d recommend by Sunday). Then, by Wednesday night, go back to the articles which will have everyone else’s annotations by this time and read through them again, and write up a response then.

How to access Perusall: Go to (links to an external site), click Register to create an account if you are new to Perusall. Or, click Sign In if you already have an account. Select “I am a student” and enter the course code.

How to get started: You should start by reading the article! When you find points that confuse you, look up their meaning/reference and create your annotation. If another student has already annotated the same part of the reading, read their annotation first. You may add your own comments and responses to the other students’ annotations.

How to annotate:

·       Highlight words and concepts that are unclear to you, look them up, then share what you found in a comment. Remember to include the source of your reference.

·       Share facts and descriptions from the text that surprise you and tell us why

·       Engage each text in multiple places

·       Ask questions (using a “?” in your comment in Perusall automatically turns it into a question)

·       Read the comments and questions posed by others

·       Answer the questions of your classmates by “mentioning” them (use @ to tag a classmate in your response so that the individual knows you are directly engaging them)

·       Upvote comments or questions you find helpful

·       Connect ideas found in the readings to the screenings, to other media it makes you think of, or to real life experiences you have or know of

·       Use the picture tool to add a visual element to your annotation or illustrate your point

Don’t worry about being too formal with these. The point is for us to have a conversation rooted in the text; feel free to use 1st person, ask questions about ideas that you’re confused on, share enthusiasm about concepts or connections you find helpful or fascinating, include casual language etc. I hope we’ll have fun with this collective annotation conversation over the course of the semester!