(Re)Collecting the Vietnam War
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(3) NowComment: Annotated Essays

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What is NowComment?

NowComment is a free website created by the public interest group Fairness.com LLP. Like the more commercially-minded RapGenius.com, NowComment allows you to upload any document (with text, images, video, etc), and then allow people to have a group discussion of that document, paragraph-by-paragraph and line-by-line.

It's a great resource for teaching close reading, helping students concentrate on very specific ideas and phrases in a text, and it also allows for the interpretation of a text to become collaborative, as readers have conversations with one another with and through the text.



How can I use NowComment in my class?

For our AALR (Re)Collecting the Vietnam War Teaching Program, we've uploaded two of the essays from the special issue for everyone to use collaboratively:

On True War Stories, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Originally published in (Re)Collecting the Vietnam War, special issue of Asian American Literary Review 6.2 (Fall 2015): 140-145.

Scenes Lost from Gran Torino: Hauntings of Hmong of Laos, by Bee Vang and Louisa Schein

Originally published in (Re)Collecting the Vietnam War, special issue of Asian American Literary Review 6.2 (Fall 2015): 293-304.

Both essays are public documents, so whoever signs up for a NowComment account can start a conversation about anything in these documents! We're keeping the essays open to everyone in the public, so that different classes can see what other classes have already done with the essays.

You can try assigning students to comment and discuss specific parts of the essays, or just let them pick and choose their own points of interest.


What if I want to use NowComment on a different text?

Once you have an account on NowComment, you can upload any text you like, using either a link or a file you've saved as a PDF or Word document. NowComment seems to work particularly well with poetry and song lyrics—dense texts with many points of reference.

Since many of us will be teaching (Re)collecting the Vietnam War alongside other works in classes on the Vietnam War, on Asian American Literature, or American History and Culture, there may be other texts outside of the issue that you'd like to see on-line. If they are publically available (ideally, already published on-line), send me an email (schong@virginia.edu) and I'll add them to a publically-accesible set of NowComment links for all Teaching Program participants to use!

If it's a text that you would prefer to use privately (by invitation only, perhaps just with your own class), NowComment will allow you to upload documents that you can mark Private. You can still use all of the commenting/annotation tools, they just won't be visible to anyone outside of your invited group.

For more information, please visit https://nowcomment.com.

(3) NowComment: Annotated Essays