Old, Weird America
Lit 4304: The Literary Expression of American Popular Culture
Due Date: Thursday, December 7
This is your one and only project for this class, worth 30% of your total grade. You want to do an excellent job on it. This is not the kind of thing you should do last minute.
As for what you can do for your project, the sky is the limit. I am open to any number of ideas. Below are guidelines for 3 possible approaches (including my expectations). If you want to do something that falls outside these guidelines, run your idea by me first and make sure it is satisfactory.
1. Traditional Research Essay . 6 pages. Choose one unit (weekly topic) from our course to write about. Explore that topic—for example, the country blues, freak shows, or vaudeville—in more depth using 4-6 outside sources from credible authorites (in books, articles, journals). Your task here is simple: explain how your research opens up a unique or illuminating perspective on the songs, images, or video for your chosen topic that we encountered in class. You don’t need to write about all the songs, etc. You can you choose your examples as you see fit. All that matters is a) you analyze materials from our class, and b) put those materials in context by using your research.
2. Connective Map. Choose one unit (weekly topic) from our course and create a connective map—that is, a visual representation of ideas drawn from the course material. A good map is selective. It does not try to show everything. Focus on one or two aspects of your chosen topic. A good map creates both separation and connection. It separates by breaking a larger whole into its smaller parts and connects by laying out the relationship between these parts. You may create these maps in any form you choose. Be creative. Your map should represent visually a key concept, in its formal and thematic dimensions, across one or more of the assigned listenings/texts. If your project is about music, your task would be to think across mediums, to create a visual form or supplement to a listening experience, or to analyze music by breaking it down visually. If your project is about performance or images, your task is the same although it might be easier to build a visual presentation around this. You can create a geographical map, an idea map, a drawing or series of drawings, a painting, a collage work, a mobile, a physical model or handmade artwork of any sort, a film, an elaborate chart or table or diagram, a puppet or doll, clothing or mask or costume—pretty much anything but a formal paper.
You will supplement your connective map with a 2-page paper explaining your project and coherently presenting its critical viewpoint. Make sure to answer the question: how does your map open up a unique or illuminating perspective on the songs, images, or video from your chosen subject matter?
3. Digital Project. Choose one unit (weekly topic) from our course and create a digital project. That means anything you design or create online or with digital technology, using whatever media or apps or websites you have available. This would be very conducive to a project that wants to sample, manipulate, and build music and/or video into a presentation. You could create a website devoted to one of our texts or topics and build content based on your own ideas. Or you could make an intellectual project using one or more of your phone apps, such as Garageband, iMovie, and so on. Are there other ways you could create projects using SoundCloud, web video, Instagram, etc.?
Unless your digital project includes its own description/explanation, you will also turn in a 2-page pager explaining your project and its critical viewpoint. Make sure to answer the question: how does your digital project open up a unique or illuminating perspective on the songs, images, or video from your chosen subject matter?
NOTE: There is only one thing I do not want you to do for this project—and that’s to turn in creative writing (poetry or stories or personal narrative).