Assignment: Reinventing Literary History: Women and Culture

First-Year Seminar/Spring 2011
Paper #3/Creative Project 

Creative Project (50%): Construct a creative response to one or more of the texts on the syllabus or to one or more of the significant ideas or themes that we have been discussing in class in the medium or media of your choice.  In the past, students have offered responses such as:

  • A videotaped dance representation of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights
  • A photomontage that interpreted Mrs. Dalloway through the student’s own NYC wanderings
  • A Powerpoint presentation of visual representations of Eve
  • Catherine Earnshaw’s Facebook page
  • “Fantomina” as a Sex and the City episode
  • A puppet show about the life of Sigmund Freud
  • Jeopardy: Women and Culture edition
  • A videotaped “talk show” about the course

Other possibilities: write a parody of a work or works on the syllabus; write your own version of a work (or character or thematic issue) on the syllabus; create a comic strip/cartoon based on a work on the syllabus; compose/perform a song about or create a soundtrack for a work on the syllabus; write & perform a short play or poems about a work or works on the syllabus; make a painting or collage or shadowbox or short film… the possibilities are endless. Students have made jewelry, cooked, and even used physics to explain their texts.

As you see, you have a certain amount of freedom here—let your imagination and creative powers loose!  Just make sure that as with previous assignments, your response here is thoughtful and well constructed—perhaps even more than with a “regular paper,” this kind of work requires advance planning and preparation.  As always, feel free to consult with me about your ideas for your project.

Paper (25%): After you’ve completed your project, please analyze it in an essay of 3-4 double-spaced pages.  Use this essay to stand back from your project and create a road map of it for your reader.  Questions to consider:

  1. What argument or main idea does your project convey about the text? (The paper doesn’t have to have a thesis, but should still have the sense of a central organizing idea.)
  2. How/why did you choose your particular medium for your particular text?
  3. What did you learn about your text by working on this project?
  4. How does this project relate to or reflect Reinventing Literary History: Women and Culture?

Give your project/paper a title that reflects its major themes, and be sure to quote from the text as necessary to prove your points.  The usual technical aspects such as organization, style, grammar, proper spelling, lack of typos, etc. also still apply.

Presentation (25%): You will present your project to the class in a 5-minute presentation on the last two days of class.  Please let me know when you turn in your description of your project if you will have any technology needs.  You will also be working with the Speaking Fellows and each other to help you prepare for your presentations.

For more from this author, please see the essay in the Pedagogy section of this issue.

Kate Levin

Alaina Pincus

Alaina Pincus

Alaina Pincus has a PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and is editor of ABOPublic. Her work explores the intersections between Jewish identity, political thought, and citizenship on the one hand and British national identity and the enlightenment ideal of toleration on the other. When she's not writing or problem-solving on the website, she likes to read pulp fiction and cook for large groups of people.
Alaina Pincus

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