- Project idea/question (1-3 sentences) & preliminary bibliography (3-5 sources) due on Mon., 3/7, by midnight (category = hybrid project idea).
- Comments on project ideas due Wed., 3/9, by midnight.
- Word-artist Meet & Greet, Thu., 3/10, 11:05-12:05, Carolina Inn.
- Project proposals & bibliographies due Fri., 4/1, before class. The proposal should identify precedents (see “environmental scan” below), pose a central driving question or problem, and set precise, specific parameters and goals for your project (approx. 250 words & 5-10 sources; category = hybrid project proposal).
- Project drafts due Wed., 4/13 by midnight (category = hybrid project draft).
- Comments on drafts due Fri., 4/15, before class (see How to Comment and peer critique groups below).
- Final project due Mon., 4/25 by midnight (category = hybrid project final).
- Comments on final projects due Wed., 4/27 by midnight (see How to Comment and peer critique groups below).
- Reflection essay due Friday, Apr. 29th, before class (category = hybrid project reflection).
The hybrid project is a chance for you to direct your own learning in Word-Art and choose your own question to investigate. The project is worth 30% of your course grade, so its scope and the amount of time you put into it should be set accordingly. Although you have a lot of freedom, there are certain inviolable parameters. Your hybrid project must include:
- words & images.
- critical & creative components.
- research & making as ways of knowing.
- reflection on process & product.
- works cited & acknowledgements.
Think of your hybrid project of having three main parts (break the binary!):
- a critical component in which you conduct research into the theoretical, critical, literary and artistic precedents relevant to your area of your inquiry (“they say”), and engage in conversation with these experts (“I say”). The critical component should be driven by a clear, arguable thesis, supported by evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should assert a new idea, provide evidence, and explain how the evidence supports the idea.
- a creative component in which you make something (material, print, or digital) that combines words and images.
- a reflection essay in which you state your initial goals, reflect on the process of your inquiry, evaluate the success of the product in meeting the goals you set out for yourself, and discuss any remaining questions. This essay can be informal, but it should not be a “free-write” or a dashed-off afterthought. It should go deep quickly, focusing on your primary goals and insights, rather than trying to touch on everything you learned or thought about. It should include only the images necessary to illustrate your points. Your reflection essay should conclude with a short paragraph of evaluation, in which you state whether you were scuba diving, snorkeling, or wading, and provide the reasoning for your evaluation.
Parts 1 & 2 may find expression as separate pieces, but they should nevertheless inform one another like yin and yang: your research and critical analysis should influence what you make, and the insights you gain in the process of making something should in turn influence your critical argument. Rather than writing a critical essay and then making something, you go back and forth between modes of inquiry.
Part 3 should come at the end, once you have completed Parts 1 & 2, so that you can reflect fully on the process and product of your hybrid project.
Getting Started: Process and Parameters
Before embarking on your project, you would be wise to conduct what the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) calls an “environmental scan”:
a clear and concise summary of an environmental scan of the relevant field. The goal of an environmental scan is to take a careful look at similar work being done in your area of study… The environmental scan should make it clear that you are aware of similar work being done and should explain how your proposed project contributes to and advances the field.
An environmental scan allows you to find out what work has been done or is being done in the field or in relation to the problem or question you want to explore. Doing such a scan will actually help you with both the critical and creative components of your project. It will provide models and precedents, and help you identify the critical, popular, or scholarly conversation you wish to enter and intervene in. Incorporating a concise, selective environmental scan into your Project Proposal will help you set clear, manageable parameters and understand who you’re working with and writing for.
You may want to explore a BIG QUESTION about how words and images interact, and that’s OK. But think of your project as a CASE STUDY, not the final, definitive word (or word and image) on the topic. Keep in mind that your job is not to develop a new theory of words and images. Rather, your job is to figure out something specific about a text or small set of texts, which you find and/or create.
To move from a broad topic to a specific problem, try Craft of Research method:
- Topic: I am studying _______________
- Question: Because I want to find out what/why/how______________
- Significance: in order to help my readers/audience understand _________________
Sample Project Ideas
Here are some ideas that occur to me, but please do not be limited by my imagination.
- You could write a critical argument about ekphrasis in the work of a contemporary poet like Eavan Boland or Terence Hayes, pairing their poems with paintings and making an argument about the relationships they enact. And you could compose your own ekphrastic poem in response to a work of art, inspired by some question your critical inquiry raised.
- You could write a critical argument about a popular meme, analyzing its linguistic and visual “rules,” and create your own meme, explaining its rules.
- You could write an argument about Kabe Wilson’s remixing of Virginia Woolf’s texts and remix a text of your choice (preferably something much shorter!).
- You could create a supplemental chapter or series of concepts for Sean Hall’s This Means That, building a website to publish your supplement (or using a platform like Atavist.com) and using Photoshop to create your own illustrations.
- You could write an argument about the aesthetic of whiteness in Mary Ruefle’s erasure books and create your own erasure book, using other mediums to call into question the invisibility of whiteness in our racialized cultural logic.
- You could partner with a poet in Alan Michael Parker’s Advanced Poetry class or with a printmaker in Tyler Starr’s Advanced Printmaking class to create and bind your own book of poems and images and write an argument about how your book fits into a particular tradition of illuminated books.
- You could explore the myriad tools and platforms available to you on Davidson Domains and online, making a map, timeline, or visualization that offers a history or analysis of specific word-art tradition, such as a short history of ekphrasis via a JS Timeline, a JS StoryMap of one of Blake’s plates, an Omeka archive of books in the RBR by a particular author or press, or a Scalar article that incorporates annotated video.
- You could peek ahead on the syllabus to explore all the cool print and digital word-art texts we’ll be reading, write about one and make something in the same tradition. Also explore the posts in the “Tips” section of this website, including the one that describes digital tools other than WordPress.
Notice how my initial examples have distinct, separate critical essays and creative artifacts, but the digital examples blend these categories, because publishing digitally requires you to be both author and designer of your work, attentive to both content and form, as well as to verbal and visual messages.
Peer Critique/User Testing Groups
The 21st Century Paragone
Documentary ReVisions: History & Memory
Social Media & Hactivism
- Annie, Aly, Stephen
Intersectional Erasure: Race, Gender & the Body Politic
- Summer & Luke