This assignment is adopted from one created by Elisa Beshero-Bondar of the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. It serves as a model for how one might empower students as scholars of individual texts, acting as the editors of a scholarly volume. Previous work in collaborative annotation is presumed in this summative exercise. Update: Elisa has revised this assignment here for Fall 20115.

This is a major project assignment for our class and is designed to build upon the short annotation assignments you have recently completed. With this assignment, you will “adopt” a 19th-century British poem from the collection I have assembled. Note these poems reside at canonical digital homes (author archives and other repositories). Some options involve working solo, and others permit working in small groups. You (alone, or with your group) will take the lead in researching the contexts in which this poem was written, as well as its references to people, places, events, other writers and texts. Your annotations should guide readers through the poem’s shifts in topic, place, and tone, discuss difficult passages and comment on imagery, symbolism, and sensory effects.

Do all of your writing in Hypothesis annotations for this assignment. Your poem must have a researched and developed historical context section as a page level note. The bulk of your annotations will be targeted at particular words, phrases, or section of the poem.

At least three of your annotations should demonstrate that you have read current scholarly articles discussing this poem, and that you are extracting relevant information from these articles in your own words, geared to educating a general community of readers. We also aim with this assignment to add a layer of academic scholarship to lend authority and credibility to our work, delivering from the resources we have available to us in our university library system as well as on the World Wide Web. You will therefore include a list of at least three bibliography citations in the headnote of the poem as suggestions for further reading. Articles and books you cite in your annotations should be current, that is, published in the last 10 to 15 years.  You should also refer to the reference resources we have been working with in previous annotation assignments. These reference sources do not substitute for the required list of three scholarly articles or books you must consult.

Your grade on this assignment will be based on the accuracy and clarity of your annotations, their reliability as a guide to the poem you have selected, and the responsible adaptation (rather than parroting) of research sources—especially the ability to process information you have learned in your own words to effectively share important information with your audience. Your drafting of a new description of the historical context and overview of the poem is a significant portion of your grade on this project, and must come with a list of sources. You will follow MLA Citation style. Reference sources (like the Oxford English Dictionary or the Brewers’ Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) may simply be identified by name, and where these are available outside a password-protected library database, link out to web resources. Books and articles need to have complete citations:

  • Article: Author’s Last Name, First. “Article Title.” Journal Title. Volume: Issue (Date of publication), pages. Name of Library Database (e.g. JSTOR, Project Muse, etc.)  (If you can find the article on Google Scholar, link out to it.)
  • Book: Author’s Last Name, First. Book Title. Place of Pub: Publisher, date. Pages.