Nick Evans / Spring 1996
E309K / Culture in the Jazz Age
Project #2: Textual Analysis
This project consists of four parts, each leading to the next. The final product, described in part 2 and part 4, will be a website or set of websites that contains a short analytical essay with embedded, hypertextual links to other, related websites. The essay will concern one of the primary texts that we will be discussing and analyzing for the next few weeks. These texts include:
We will discuss each of these texts in message forums and InterChanges, using the "Method for Rhetorical Analysis" as a general guide to move from collecting data about a text to drawing larger conclusions about the text's central meanings and effects. All of these electronic discussions, with which part 1 is concerned, will be preserved on the class website and will, in a sense, record the progress and development of our class analyses over time.
After the class has read and discussed all the texts, you should select one of them about which to write your final essay (the draft consists of part 2; the final version is part 4). In the essay you will explain and justify the conclusions that you have drawn about the text, analyzing how the text functioned in one or more particular contexts--what particular cultural consciousness(es) the text urged on its apparent target audience(s). In this sense, the essay is a culmination of your own ideas about that text and of what you have derived from the class discussions about the text. For this reason, the essay should not "stand alone" as a separate document, but should be linked hypertextually to the class websites containing the primary text you're analyzing (I am making online, web versions of all of them) as well as the discussion that influenced what you think about the text. You can cite the texts and your own and your classmates' views in message forums and InterChanges as "evidence" supporting your analytical claims, and/or you can reconstruct the process of discovery and development that you went through in reading the text, participating in the forums and InterChanges, talking with your classmates and friends, and eventually shaping full-fledged analytical arguments about the text based on all these experiences.
Part 1: Message Forums and InterChanges
This section of the project consists of many smaller assignments. As mentioned above, we will discuss five primary texts over the next 3-4 weeks in message forums and InterChanges. Participation in InterChanges is required, but not graded. Participation in the message forums is required and graded (in a loose sense). Each posting to a message forum that contributes substantially to the discussion will be worth one-half a point; 5 points total are possible, meaning that 10 substantial postings (an average of 2 per text) will earn full credit for this section of the project. Postings beyond that number will not grant explicit "extra" credit; however, since they would indicate active involvement in the class, I would take them into account at the final grading stage for the project if your grade were, for example, on a borderline between two grade levels.
- DUE: at periodic intervals between Sunday, February 4 (see homework assigned Friday, February 2) and Monday, February 26 (see below)
- VALUE: 5% of Project #2 in total (see below)
Here is a full list of links to primary texts and to the forums and InterChanges about them, as well as to other, relevant discussions that we have had. After all the discussions have taken place, this list will give you access to many of the resources that you can use in working on part 2.
Since the essay/website can illustrate the development of your analytical perspective on the text, after the discussion of each text you might want to keep track of particular sets of forum and InterChange messages (their URL's and/or their location in the discussions) that made strong impressions on you.
Part 2: First Draft of Essay Website(s)
As discussed above, this section of the project consists of completing a first draft of your analytical essay (on one of the five texts) and of the website or set of websites that houses it. There are at least two structures that I can imagine for the essay website(s).
- DUE: Wednesday, February 28 at the beginning of class (essay draft); Friday, March 1 by 5pm (essay draft as website)
- VALUE: 5% of Project #2
If, for discussions of each text, you have kept track of messages that influenced your perspective on and interpretation of the text, then your essay could consist of a narrative reconstruction of the progress of your analysis, culminating in your final conclusions about the text. This story could start with you explaining your initial impressions of the text (e.g., as when you completed step 1 and step 2 of "A Method for Rhetorical Analysis") and then describe how your ideas were reinforced or changed by class discussion, from the initial stages of collecting data to the final stages of drawing interpretive conclusions (e.g., in step 3 and step 4 of the "Method"). In your retelling you could make hypertextual links to the websites housing the online version of the primary text as well as the influential forum and InterChange messages, which would presumably also help you to gather evidence that supports your final conclusions. (By "evidence" I mean, for example, an interpretation of the meaning of certain signs or artifacts in the text that, as you explain, support your main argument about the text's central meanings or effect.) Assuming that some of your argument will be solely your own and will not derive from class discussions, you will, of course, have to cite additional evidence that you collect individually (e.g., your independent interpretation of passages in the primary text).
On the other hand, you could create a more straightforward essay that, rather than retelling the story of how you arrived at your conclusions, announces those conclusions up front in an introduction, supports those conclusions in body paragraphs with citations of textual evidence (some of which should consist of links to relevant forum and InterChange messages), and restates the conclusions at the end.
For either of the essay structures that I have suggested, or for any appropriate essay structure that you decide to use, you need not be limited to one website; you can spread your essay out across a "suite" or set of websites, perhaps with one central site serving as an introduction. For example, each paragraph of the essay could have its own website, or, you could devote a website to each of the themes or ideas that the essay explores, or you could have each website contain arguments and evidence drawn from a particular type of source (e.g., one website would contain links to message forums, another to InterChanges, etc.). Try to choose a design that best fits what you want your essay to do.
Whatever essay structure you choose, the website draft must meet a few additional requirements regarding:
The text of the first draft is due before class on Wednesday, February 28, because I want you to devote at least the class time on that day and on Friday, March 1 (as well as some out-of-class time in between), to organizing the presentation of your draft as one or more websites. On Wednesday we will hold a workshop on how to create hypertextual web links. Of course, if you want to learn about linking before then, feel free to ask me for help and/or to read the instructions about making links that are listed on the CWRL tutorial page Composing in HTML.
- the number of sites: the draft of a single-site should contain at least 7 links to other relevant, "evidentiary" websites; the draft of a multiple-site project should have at least 7 links total, with at least 2 links per site.
- length: the text of the essay must be at least 1000 words, whether all on one site or spread across several sites.
When you turn in your draft website(s), please name each source document via the following convention. Give it the .html extension and title it after your last name, a dash, the letters p2d (for Project 2 Draft), and--if you have more than one site--another dash, followed by the number of the site in your project. An example would be: Evans-p2d-site2.html. (If you only have one site, ignore the -site# part.) Then copy each document to the folder titled after your last name in the Project #2 Drafts folder: open Parlin Classroom on the desktop, then Teacher Folders, then the Evans folder, then the Project #2 folder, then Drafts folder, which contains the folders named for you. Drag the html document icon(s) from your diskette to your folder. I will post these drafts to our class website; links to them will be available on the Student Projects page.
Part 3: Peer Review of Essay Website(s)
After 5pm on Friday, March 1, examine your partner's project website(s) fully. Then write a review of it in a word processor that is at least 350 words long. This review should evaluate:
- DUE: Monday, March 4 by noon (e-mail them to one another and to me)
- VALUE: This is a separately graded assignment; it is not counted as part of the Project #2 grade.
Please send the finished review to the author of the draft and to me via e-mail BEFORE NOON ON MONDAY, March 4. In the "Subject" line, type Project #2 Peer Review. On Monday, be sure to check your e-mail and to read your partnerĖs review of your draft. Take into account your peerĖs comments as you revise the draft into the final draft.
- how well the draft meets the requirements of the assignment: does it demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of signs, artifacts, texts, culture and other terms of analysis specified in the "Method for Rhetorical Analysis"? does it offer a full analysis of how the text urged a particular cultural ideology or consciousness on one or more target audiences? is it of the minimum length? does it have the minimum number of required links? does it have other, required scripting, such as for titles, headings, and line and paragraph breaks? if not, explain why not.
- how well its arguments/conclusions are supported by the evidence cited: are the interpretations of particular signs, artifacts, narrative structure, and style--and of their unity in pointing toward one particular (set of) textual message(s) or effect(s)--convincing? if not, why not? is there other available evidence in the text (other signs, artifacts, etc.) that contradicts or complicates the draft's arguments/claims that is not mentioned in the draft? if so, what is that evidence?
- how clear the writing is: is the verbal presentation of arguments and evidence clear? is the writing cohesive? if not, point out passages that are unclear or uncohesive, referring to specific paragraph and sentence numbers and suggesting strategies for revision.
- how easy to follow the hypertextual organization is: when you follow one of the draft's links, do you understand why and where you go where you do (i.e., do the links preserve cohesion?)? if not, specify which links are confusing and suggest ways in which the author can contextualize her or his links more cohesively.
Part 4: Final Draft of Essay Website(s)
The final draft should take into account at least some of the revision suggestions from the peer review and from my comments. Title each source document after your last name, a dash, p2f (for Project 2 Final), and--if you have more than one site--another dash, followed by the number of the site in your project. An example would be Evans-p2f-site3.html. In addition to including required formatting for a title, heading, and line and paragraph breaks, the website(s) should contain at least 10 links to other relevant sites (at least 2 per site for multiple-site projects). Beyond these requirements, feel free to use any other html scripting that you think will accentuate your documentĖs WWW presentation (remember always to test-view it). Copy the finished html document(s) to the folder with your last name, in the Final folder, in the Project #2 folder, in my Teacher folder. I will then post them to the class website, with links available from the Student Projects page. THE PROJECT DOCUMENT(S) IS/ARE DUE BY 5PM FRIDAY.
- DUE: Friday, March 8 by 5pm (full essay website[s])
- VALUE: 90% of Project #2
Students who complete part 1 and part 2 on time and in the manners requested receive 5 points for each that count toward the final grade for Project #2. If you do not submit part 2 on time and as requested, you will receive a 0 for that part (and for part 3, which, if submitted late to your peer partner, will also earn a 0).
The final essay/website draft of Project #2 is worth up to the 90 remaining points. How many points each final draft receives depends upon my evaluation of it according to the general criteria stated in part 3. In addition, I will subtract points if the final draft is submitted late or if it does not meet basic requirements (e.g., if it is shorter than the minimum required length, or if its links do not work, etc.).