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English 149 (Winter 2018) — Assignments

Since there is no exam in this course, regular attendance and participation is a must (and will figure in the final grade).  To pass the course you must be in class the majority of the time (you are allowed a maximum of two absences, with the count started after the first week of classes).


Solo Assignments  Solo Assignments


Besides team work, each student has individual assignments that contribute to the class as a whole or to their team project but that are individually graded. A total of 50% of the final grade for each student derives from these solo assignments.



Practicums Solo Assignment


Various Dates in First Weeks of Course (see course schedule): (Practicums are required to pass the course, but are not graded.) Course "practicums" are hands-on, small-scale exercises that ask students to experiment at a beginner's level with the tools of the digital humanities. Classes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 in the course each include a practicum that should be completed before class. Typically, a practicum asks students to try out a digital tool and method, then to leave an interesting "souvenir" on a page they create on the Student Work part of the site for this course. The "souvenir" can be as simple as a screenshot of or link to something created (or found) during the exploration,  For instructions on the individual practicums and on how to leave a "souvenir," see the Practicums Instructions page.



Digital Analysis (Distant Reading) Assignment Solo Assignment (25% of final grade)


Due in Class 9, (M, Feb. 14): Write a 3-4 page essay (between 900 and 1,200 words, not including notes, bibliography, or appendices) that uses any tool or method of digital analysis to assist in in making an interpretive argument about a literary work or collection of literary works.

  • You are free to use any tool or method covered in the course during classes 1-6 (or any other digital tool or method you are interested in). You may also use more than one kind of tool or method.
  • You should choose a sensibly sized or sufficiently complex work (or collection of works) to analyze--that is, material that repays the use of digital analytical methods in the way that the study of a single short work may not. For example, you could choose one or a limited number of "big" works such as a novel, long poem, or poetry collection. Or you could choose to study a corpus consisting of a large number of works--e.g., 100-200 novels. (For practical reasons, it's a good idea to keep the number of works down to a number you can work fairly speedily with using your chosen tools.) Some other variations are also possible for your choice of material--for example:
    • Study a single short work, but compare it to a larger body of works;
    • Study the relation between a set of literary works and a set of some other kind of works (e.g., political speeches, newspaper articles);
    • Study works that are not "literature" per se but in some other form often taught in contemporary English departments--e. g., films, songs, graphic novels, games, E-lit, etc. (For most of the kinds of tools you have available, you will need access to some kind of textual representation of such works. In the case of a film or TV show, for instance, you will need the script; for songs you will need the lyrics.)
  • "Making an interpretive argument" in this assignment rubric means that your essay cannot consist only of description or plot/character summary (though it may need to do some describing to set up an argument). Instead, you need to advance a specific argument or thought about your materials. A good argumentative essay has these features:
    • The essay focuses on a main issue, though it can include other issues in a manner logically subordinate to the argument (i.e., in ways that make such issues the supports for, components or extensions of, or challenges to the main argument).
    • The essay includes evidence (in this case, including evidence from the results of your digital analysis)
    • The essay demonstrates the steps in your train of thought in a connected fashion so that your audience can follow you. Note, however, that there are many ways to develop a flow of thought, not all of them strictly linear. For example, good essays often include a pivotal intellectual turning point, question, challenge, or complicating problem in mid-flow. 
  • You are free to mix "close" and "distant" reading as appropriate. For example, you could closely read a passage from a novel, and then show how its language or patterns of thought compare/contrast with the rest of the novel or a collection of novels.
  • You should include in your essay excerpts from your digital analyses--e.g., in the form of tables, diagrams, or other visualizations. Or include such material in an appendix. If there is too much evidentiary material, put it online somewhere and link to it. 
  • For citations that you include in notes and/or a bibliography, use MLA style. (See the Purdue Online Writing Lab's "MLA Formatting and Style Guide").
  • Turn in your paper in the form of a single hard-copy, plus email a digital version to Alan (ayliu@english.ucsb.edu) (DOC or DOCX format preferred). 



E-Lit Creative Assignment Solo Assignment (25% of final grade)


Due in Class 11, (M, Feb. 26): Conceptualize and demonstrate (at least in partial form) how you would create an E-lit work. Specifically:

  • Scan through the examples of E-lit introduced in class, as well as examples anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection vols. 1-3 (no need to be comprehensive). Pay close attention to both how such works have been made, as well as why they have been made and what they are meant to convey to the reader.
  • Select one of two tools with which you will conceptualize and begin to build a piece of electronic literature. You can choose either Twine or employ Zach Whalen's method for creating Twitter Bots using Google spreadsheets (legacy instructions here; GitHub repo here). If you'd like to get creative and develop an e-lit piece using JavaScript/JQuery (or, say, a Stir Fry a la Jim Andrews, or an AR piece in the vein of Between Page and Screen or Caitlin Fisher's work), for example, that will also be accepted.
  • Write up a 1-2 page (300-600 word) statement which describes the overall concept behind the piece, how it is meant to work, what it is meant to convey to its readers/users, and why the method you selected is the best way to convey this message/concept. Model this on the author's statements accompanying the anthologized works in the Electronic Literature Collection volumes, as well as the descriptions of works contained within the essays you have read for this section of the course.
  • Attempt to create a prototype of your conceptualized piece. You are not expected to produce a polished, complete work, but you should make a good faith attempt at implementing at least in part the concept described in your statement.
  • Turn in your statement in the form of a single hard-copy, plus email a digital version to Jamal (jamalsrussell@umail.ucsb.edu) (DOC or DOCX format preferred). Your creative E-lit work itself should be submitted in an appropriate form. For example, if it lives online please include a link in your statement.



Team Assignment  Team Project (50% of final grade)

Ideally, this course would ask students to work in teams of 3-4 to complete a full digital project exploring a literary work (or part of a work). But due to the special time constraints of this nine-week Winter 2018 quarter, it is impractical for students both to accomplish the course readings and ongoing assignments and also to execute a full-scale team project. The culminating assignment for this course, therefore, is not a completed digital project but the next best thing. Students are required to work in teams to create a detailed proposal for a digital project concerning a literary work.

       The project should have both a digital analysis and digital E-lit component. For example, you can use digital methods to analyze some example or genre of literary works, and then use part of the results (e.g., most frequent bigrams or a topic model) to "seed" the content of a work of E-lit. Or, working in the other logical direction, you can create a work of E-lit and then analyze it using digital methods. (Many other variants are possible.)

       To create the required proposal for the project, teams can imagine that they are a small start-up firm pitching a project to a client, or a team pitching a project to an arts and humanities grant agency or foundation. There is no fixed length for the proposal, but it should include the following. (The following also serves as the grading rubric the instructors will use to judge your team project.)

  1. Abstract ("executive summary") -- brief overview of the proposal
  2. Explanation ("narrative" or "rationale") of the project -- what, how, why
  3. Related work in the field ("environmental scan") -- related research, projects, methods, tools
  4. Examples of digital work that the project will involve ("demos") -- these examples should demonstrate that project members have self-trained in the digital tools needed for their project to a level beyond beginner level. 
  5. Detailed design/mock-up/description of the intended final product
  6. Team Project home page on the course site that presents (or links to) the project

For examples of "proposals," see the project proposals from one of Prof. Liu's graduate courses.

Tech resources are available online in the instructor's DH Toychest. The Transcriptions lab in South Hall 2509 is also available for students to use during announced hours (see tech support); the computers in the lab have some relevant software installed (SH 2509 software inventory). Grading: 50% of the final grade of each student will be based on the team-wide grade for their project proposal.

        For the timeline of team project task leading up to the final presentation in class, see "Team Preparatory Tasks" and "Team Final Tasks" below. 



Team Preparatory Tasks Team Assignment

Team project assignments are due at the end of the quarter, but they require preliminary collaborative tasks on the following schedule:


  1. Second or Third week of course: Teams to be formed in a special class meeting outside regular class hours to be scheduled during the 2nd or 3rd week of the course.
  2. Class 8, Feb. 12: By this date, teams must have met at least once face-to-face outside class to brainstorm and set up for how they will collaborate on their project assignment in the rest of the course. (Subsequent team collaboration can occur through any combination of face-to-face meetings; email or online discussion; or use of the part of the course Web site that is editable by students (Student Work).
  3. Class 9, Feb. 14: In-class Project Planning Workshop. (The instructors will consult with teams in class in preparation for the upcoming presentations of project ideas).
  4. Class 10, Feb. 21: Presentations of Project Ideas: Choose a literary work (or part of a work) that the team will work on; and prepare a presentation to the class that introduces that work, explains why you are choosing it, and gives an initial idea for your team project proposal based on the work.  (Mention any particular methods or tools you already have in mind for conducting the project, though other methods and tools can be explored as the project develops.) Be prepared to answer the question "why this project?" That is, have at least an initial hypothesis about what your project might accomplish for our understanding and appreciation of the literary work (or of literature in general). For the presentation, prepare citations, excerpts, and/or summaries of the work as appropriate on a Team Project home page (so that people who don't know the work can get a sense of it and follow your presentation). Format and post your Team Project home page on the course site by following these instructions. (Note: the team project home page on the course Web site will hold in-progress work by your team during the quarter, and can then later be remade into a home page presenting or linking to your final project proposal.)



Team Final Tasks Team Assignment (By Class 16, Wed. March 14)


During the last week of the course, teams will make formal presentations of their projects.  By the the time of these final presentations, teams must have ready the following:


  1. A cohesive, well-designed Team Project home page on the course site that presents (or links to) the project, explains it, and provides some context.  The idea is to create a home page site for the project adequate to the task of giving an outsider to our class the gist of your project. To create a Team Project home page, follow these instructions.
  2. The project proposal itself, existing in some combination of the working project or its intermediary or final results, images, videos, etc. (Depending on the nature of the project, you may be creating it on another web site or platform and linking to it from your team project page.)


Teams will formally present their projects to the class in class 16.  Presentation format:

    • 10 minute presentation by each team (followed by short discussion with class)
    • Presentations should have an organized structure 
    • Choose at least one lead presenter (but other team members can also present parts of the project idea. E.g., one person can describe the work that is the topic of the project; another can describe the project idea; another can describe possible tools; etc.


















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