Term Project

Writing Machines
Term Project Assignment
Length: the equivalent of a 20-page term paper

Due Dates:
Proposal: Fri., February 19
Project outline: Wed., March 3 10
Draft: Mon., April 19
Final project: Wed., May 5, 5:00 pm

Your term project comes with two options:

1. Critical project: This is the standard term paper project, with a twist. For this project, you’ll produce a 20-page research-based term paper making an analytical argument about some aspect of contemporary digital media and electronic literature, publishing this paper on the web in a form that you will develop, using the technologies that the internet makes available to supplement your argument.

2. Creative project: In this option, you will develop a significant electronic literature project of your own. This project can take whatever shape you like, but it should be delivered to me via the web, and it should in some fashion reflect in its content the choices you have made about its form. You will include within this project, as an appendix, a 6-page critical essay using the readings we have done this semester to think through the implicit critical argument that your project makes about the readings we do this semester.

Both options have a number of required steps:

1. Proposal: No later than 5 pm on Friday, February 19, you will post on the blog a 250-500 word proposal for your term project, indicating whether you are following the critical or the creative option, and clearly stating the project’s goals and your plan for achieving them. This is of course not to suggest that you will be tied to the particulars of this proposal, or that it won’t change as you work. But this proposal should let us know as clearly as possible the fundamentals of your plan. This need not be a polished piece of prose, but do give us as much information as you can; our feedback on this proposal may be helpful in focusing your project. In lab that day, you will workshop these proposals, helping one another revise them. (They won’t be considered “turned-in” until the end of lab that day, at which time I’ll respond to them.)

2. Comment: By class time on Wednesday, February 24, you should re-read and comment on your classmates’ proposals, and respond to the comments that have been made on yours. How can you help your peers design the best possible projects? And how can you use their feedback to help strengthen your own project? Take this comment stage seriously — it will affect your final grade. (You should also make use of the blog as you’re working on your project; think about ways that you might be able to post draft material for feedback, or request help from your classmates in other ways.)

3. Outline: By class time on Wednesday, March 3 10, you will post, either directly on the blog or as a link to a more elaborated webpage, an outline for your term project. Your peers will be reading and commenting on these outlines, so the more complete they are, the better. If you are doing a critical project, your outline should indicate the research you’ve done thus far and the research remaining to be done, and should clearly outline both the structure of your argument and the format in which the project will be presented. If you are doing a creative project, your outline should include a sketch (preferably done as a draft on the computer rather than by hand) of your site’s interface, a map of the site’s projected organization, and an outline of its content, as well as a brief summary of your plan for the 6-page critical appendix.

4. Draft and peer review: On Monday, April 19, you will send your peer review partner(s) a link to the draft of your project (including the appendix, if you’re doing the creative project), and you will get a link to the draft(s) of your partner(s). You should compare notes with your partner(s) as you’re working on your drafts, and should comment thoroughly and constructively, in writing, on the drafts themselves, helping one another to clarify writing and design issues, deepen your analysis, and complicate your project’s overall objectives. These comments must be returned to the author no later than Wednesday, April 28, so that each of you will have at least a week to revise your projects as necessary. As revision time will be short, the project you send your peer reviewer should be as complete as possible. The peer review is not optional. When you turn in your final project to me, you must turn in the comments from your peer reviewer as well.

5. Presentation: The last session of our class will be given over to presentations of your term projects. You should be prepared to give a polished, formal presentation in which you demo your project for your classmates, talking about your project’s goals, your process in the project’s development, and what you have discovered while working on the project. Your presentation should absolutely, positively, be no longer than five minutes long. This will give us a little bit of time for discussion after each presentation.

6. The final project: The thing itself. Which must use an appropriate citation system giving full credit for any quotations, ideas, images, or designs that you borrow, must conform to the length guidelines above, and must — MUST — be carefully proofread. Projects whose meaning is obscured by a plethora of typographical or spelling or grammatical errors will be “returned” unread, and will incur late penalties until resubmitted. You should make use of your friends, classmates, and the writing fellows in refining your ideas, your writing, and your site’s design.

Note: All deadlines are firm. Except for the leniency noted in my late assignments policy, no extensions will be granted.