Democratic Vistas: A Digital Literature Anthology

Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains. Using Mediawiki (the same platform that powers Wikipedia), Democratic Vistas enables students to author their own open source textbook, including a teaching and learning apparatus. The idea is to: open source literature textbooks; involve students in multimedia authoring; engage students in the production of knowledge; and, create a participatory, persistent interpretive community.


Community Portal

The Democratic Vistas Community site is a BuddyPress installation. It's designed to provide a "Facebook" style social site where students can communicate, collaborate, and share their work on the Democratic Vistas anthology.


YouTubing Poetry

This end-of-the-semster extra credit project explores the pedagogical possibilities of two features of new media: user-generated content and performativity. Students were asked to select one poem from our syllabus and "perform" it on YouTube. One of the goals was to encourage students to see that poetry is more than just black words on a white page, e.g. that reading poetry is about creating meaning through the dynamic relations among sound, voice, text, and interpretation.

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New media offers alternative venues for evaluation and assessment. Can e-portfolios better represent student learning, especially? This collection of portfolios from a graduate class in new media in literary studies offers students an opportunity to present their work, interpret their narrative of learning, and reflect on what their "take-away" might be from the class.

Wiki Learning Platforms

How can teachers harness the collaborative and multimedia power of wikis? And, to what extent can Web 2.0's "socializing" of learning deepen student engagement with literature? This wiki on Dreiser's Sister Carrie includes four inquiry-based assignments asking students to explore the cultural and social contexts for Dreiser's novel: late 19th-century shifts in gender identities ; the rise of consumerism ; rapid urbanization ; and the emergence of the "tramp" in 19th-century American culture and society.

Student Blogging

Can blogging create a classroom community in large enrollment classes? Can it deepen students' engagement with texts and ideas? What role can informal writing (e.g. blog posting) play in developing writing and literacy skills? The motherblog linked here is one example of student blogging that I've been developing over several semesters. Click through the student blogroll in the right column to sample student blogging efforts.

Visualizing New York

A web portfolio that documents the Visualizing New York assignment for American Studies 202. The goal of the assignment is for students to understand how representations of urban life work and to produce their own multimedia representations of New York City, based on Berenice Abbott's Changing New York, 1935 - 1939 photo exhibition. The portfolio also includes sample student interpretations of Frans Masereel's 1925 graphic novel about urban life, Die Stadt.

Blogging Walt Whitman.

The "motherblog" for "Whitman and the American Epic (Fall 2006). I used the motherblog as a course management site. Students also created their own blogs - - included in the blogroll - - and blogged both to questions posed in class and in response to other students' posts.

Revolutionary Imagination Blog.

Another blog implementation, this motherblog serves as course management site and as a class portal to materials, assignments, and links to student blogs within the course.

Art and Revolution: A Flickrlicious Project

This assignment asks student to use Flickr - - a popular Web 2.0 photo sharing site - - to analyze representations of the "people" from the French Revolution. Students analyze a variety of images - - paintings, drawings, caricatures - - to develop a rubric for representations of the people and then apply this rubric to David's "Sabine Women", using Flickr's "add note" tool.

Remembering 9-11

The goal of this sequenced assignment was to encourage students in my Fall 2006 Freshman Composition course to understand what collective memory is and how it can be shaped by texts and ideologies. Students began by reading excerpts from the 9-11 Commission Report . They then proceed to look at a variety of representations of 9-11 - - including comic books, oral histories, popular photo archives, and political speeches. Their final project was to "curate" a museum exhibition on 9-11 using these materials and academic discussions of collective memory. (The final projects can be found by browing through the blogroll of student blogs.)

The Restless Text: Whitman's Re-visionary Poetics

As most Americanists know, Whitman's Leaves of Grass is a fluid, malleable text - - over the course of his life Whitman returned over and over again to revise the original 1855 edition. The goal of this assignment was to lead students to examine the changing criteria and understanding of his own project that led Whitman to continually revise his collection. Students used the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's online Whitman archive to compare three different editions of Leaves of Grass. (Student interpretations of the textual editions are accessible through the blogroll on the class motherblog.)