Appendix D: London/Lake District Field School Assignments

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Appendix D: London/Lake District Field School Assignments

The following assignments are designed for two third-year English courses to be offered as part of the London/Lake District Field School, a full-time, credit-bearing program. The first course, “Romantic-Era London,” will survey the Romantic period’s best-known authors (including Austen, Baillie, Barbauld, Blake, Byron, Coleridge, De Quincey, Hemans, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth) and focus on their representations of the nation’s capital during one of its greatest moments of cultural production. The second course, “The Wordsworth Circle and the English Lake District,” will focus on the Wordsworths (primarily William and Dorothy) and S. T. Coleridge, writers who immortalized the region and played an important role in ensuring that its natural and cultural heritage was preserved. The Field School will run for ten weeks: the first four weeks will be spent on campus, the subsequent four weeks will be spent in London, and the remaining two weeks in the Lake District. Total grades for the two courses, totalling 104 credit hours, equals 200% (100% per course).

Name of Assignment % of Grade (out of 200%)
Participation 20
Fieldwork Blog 80
On-Site Field Presentations 40
Digital Edition Project 40
Final Lightning Talk 20

ASSIGNMENT ONE: PARTICIPATION (20% of grade)

The participation grade is based on attendance as well as regular and thoughtful contribution to the class meetings, presentations, and excursions. You are expected to read the material in advance and bring questions and comments from your blogs and about your fellow students’ blogs to class. Respect and consideration for your classmates is also vital for good class dynamics.

ASSIGNMENT TWO: FIELDWORK BLOG  (80% of grade)

What is the assignment?

(1 pre-departure entry + 2 entries per week x 6 weeks = total 13 entries)

Every student will develop, maintain and add content to a blog. Each week (for the six weeks of travel) you will be responsible for creating and publishing two blog entries, for a total of twelve entries; in addition, you will be responsible for one pre-departure entry. The purpose of this blog is to serve as a platform and archive for a lot of the work you will do in the Field School, and to enable you to share it with others. The blog format encourages you to becoming active and critical producers of cultural knowledge in a social context, through the use of an open-access, public-facing, and responsible form of digital literacy. At the end of the Field School, you will have an online portfolio or exhibit of all the fieldwork you have done during the six weeks that we are in London and the Lake District.

How will the fieldwork blog be executed?

You will create two entries every week, which will take a variety of forms (see the table below). These entries will address different topics, develop a repertoire of voices and critical skills, and speak to audiences in the field and at home. Your blog entries will typically range from three to five hundred words in length (certain genres of entry will require different word lengths, however). Each entry will respond to what you have seen, heard, or done on the date of the entry, as it relates to the course material. Your entries should be varied and creative, but at the same time engage critically with the fieldwork. To encourage experimentation, creativity, and transfield approaches that can bridge time and place, you should integrate multimedia elements into a number of your entries and explore a variety of genres.

Multimedia: The beauty of the blog format (and the WordPress interface in particular) is that it is extremely easy to integrate a range of media forms: photographs, video, audio, maps, and links to other websites. You should be thinking about how to bring these media formats into your entries in thoughtful and meaningful ways. One entry may work best with a slideshow, another, with a series of short videos [using a mobile phone or a camera with a video function], or another with audio clips.  

Genre: Although some of your entries may take the form of a journal (that is, exploring some aspect of the day’s activities), you will also want to diversify your blog entries by producing one or more entries in the following genres. At least six of the entries should be selected from the following list, with no more than two per genre.

Journal

You will be visiting a variety of cultural and historical sites. Engage critically with one of your experiences. Don’t try to write about everything you have done; focus and write about a particular aspect of the day’s fieldwork that was meaningful to you, and explain why.

Tour description

You will take many tours through various different parts of London and the Lake District. Imagine you are writing a walking or hiking tour for a modern-day guidebook or for a travel magazine. Alternatively, take on the perspective of a Romantic author writing for a periodical, or for a personal journal, or for an inner family circle. Whether writing for a modern-day or a Romantic-era audience, provide a detailed account of a tour with precise directions and a discussion of important landmarks on the tour. Your aim should be to guide your reader through the tour and convince him/her it is worth doing. Feel free to experiment with pastiche and/or ekphrasis.

Museum review /Theatre review
You will be seeing several performances and curated exhibits. Write a critical review of the performance/exhibit. Would you recommend it to other people and, if so, why; if not, why not? (If you write two entries, write one on a theatrical performance and one on a museum exhibit). Check out the Guardian for some of the best examples of theatre reviews.

Restaurant review

We will be eating out together at a few different restaurants, and you might also be venturing out to a few restaurants on your own. Pretend that you are a food critic and write a critical restaurant review. Check out the New York Times food section for some of the best examples of the restaurant review genre. You might also want to think about British cuisine, and what it reflects about the nation’s past and present.
Critical response to an academic argument Write a critical response to one of the critical secondary sources we are reading. Identify the author’s argument, and then articulate a critical response to it. Would the argument be stronger if it drew on different evidence, or on a different critical question or approach? Can you apply the argument to a primary text we have been reading in the course? Is this argument similar/different to others you have encountered in the course? How might you debate this argument? What aspects of the argument remain unclear to you, or might you develop?
Soundagram You will be hearing many sounds: of people, of the streets, of the natural environment. Record and arrange these sounds, into a three to five minute soundagram, using a recording device and SoundCloud. With your soundagram, include a 140-character critical caption about its significance.  
Audio or Video Interview Conduct a short three to five minute audio or video interview with someone you meet as part of your study abroad experience: perhaps a tourist, a local, an expatriate, a diplomat, a museum worker, a fellow student … Ask a question, use a questionnaire, talk over dinner on any topic relevant to the field school. Write an entry on this activity and explain what you learned from the interview or about the interview practice.  NB. If you interview someone, you need to ask permission to record them.
Digital postcard Create a digital postcard comprised of an image and an epistolary text as a dialogic commentary on your fieldwork. You can use PowerPoint or Postagram. Give some thought to your persona, your audience, and your engagement with time and place.
In the footsteps of Mirror the creative and intellectual activities of one of the Romantic-era authors or characters we are studying. Go out to draw/paint the landscape; or write in a locale that inspired a great literary work; or reenact and revive a particular experience of an artist/character. Write an entry on this activity and explain why it was meaningful to you.
Pinterest Create a Pinterest page illustrating material objects seen during your fieldwork, either from a particular day or over the course of numerous days: eg. an album of objects of note at the National Gallery. Write an entry about the role that these objects play within the text(s). Consider how visualizing these ‘things’ might change the way you understand their function within the text.
Digital Map Design an online map, using Mapbox or Google Maps software, to trace the locations or routes you have taken as part of your study abroad experience. Using a contemporary map of England, you can map your routes (on a particular day or over the course of two weeks); or map sites of particular interest (ie. sublime vs picturesque locations; tourist traps vs untouched sites; historical monument vs cafe; galleries vs street markets); or locations described in a particular literary text. Alongside your digital map, which you can embed into your blog, write an entry that explains how your map enables analysis of certain spatial patterns and relationships to place. How did writers and artists interact with the places you are examining? What do Flickr photographs or Pinterest albums illustrate about spatial trends evident in today’s encounters with the sites we have visited? What were some of the aesthetic experiences associated with these places? How are your encounters with these geographies mediating those of the past? How does the map help you understand cultures of travel and dwelling, aesthetic practices, and/or social relations?

Why are we creating a fieldwork blog?

The blog assignments are designed to (1) provide you with a forum to express and comment critically on your fieldwork; (2) engage with the field as a space that transects time and place; (3) develop your public voice, by writing a series of public or socially-oriented genres; (4) improve your familiarity with integrating new media forms into writing and writing in different genres, including genres particular to the Romantic writers we will be studying (i.e. travel writing, letters, reviews). The blog format will enable you to share and archive your fieldwork. All assignments (including your maps, on-site field tour, and lightning talk) will be collected on the blog. You will be sharing your blog entries on a regular basis during our morning classroom sessions (Monday to Thursday, 9-11 am).

Which digital tools will we use?

You will use wordpress.com for your fieldwork blog, a free blogging platform that is widely used, well-supported, and customisable. For a WordPress user guide, see Getting to know WordPress.  In addition, you may be using an array of other digital tools to create your blog entries: WordPress, Powerpoint, Postagram, Instagram, SoundCloud, as well as other apps. Instruction will be provided in pre-departure meetings in Vancouver, with the support of the Teaching and Learning Development Centre, on how to create your own digital content and best practices for creating digital media files. You will need to have a laptop with internet capability and a full word-processing package. It would be useful to have a smartphone and/or camera. IMPORTANT NOTE: There are permission issues for Canadian students using a WordPress site, as it is hosted on a US server. These issues will be fully discussed during our pre-departure meetings. If a student does not wish to use WordPress, other options can be discussed.

How will I be evaluated?

The reading/writing blog will be submitted twice during the semester, and evaluation will be based on the quality of the ideas and analysis, engagement with the material, and ability to communicate effectively.

ASSIGNMENT THREE: ON-SITE FIELD PRESENTATION  (40% of grade)

What is the assignment? (total two presentations)

Each student will prepare two presentations in the field. Both of the presentations will be done as teams of two to four students.  Each presentation will be roughly twenty to twenty-five minutes in length on a specific object or group of objects in a gallery, on a specific historical or cultural site, or on a specific route or meeting place relevant to the Romantic authors and contexts being studied. One presentation will take place in London, the other in the Lake District, and assignments will be made before we depart for London. Unlike typical presentations given in classrooms, this presentation in the field should be interactive, performative, and site-specific. You may have to negotiate with crowds, noise, or rough terrain, so a formal presentation with script and visual aids will likely be ill-suited to the environment. Your goal will be to adapt your presentation to a dynamic public site while engaging in critical commentary and reflecting on its relationship to the course material.

How should you go about presenting?

You should begin by researching and visiting your site. Think creatively and critically about how it is related to the course material, and then decide what aspects of the place you want the class to take away from your field presentation. Perhaps, at a gallery visit, you will involve students in sketching as a means of connecting them to the art they are viewing; or you might organize a scavenger hunt that allows students to learn about the objects and environment they are exploring; or you might design a walking tour that illuminates some of the poetry we are reading; or you might prepare an audio recording for students to listen to as they move through a museum, or perhaps a questionnaire; or you might try to recreate through performance a specific historical encounter or series of historical encounters with an object or site; or you might organise a debate about a contested issue related to the object, site, or route being investigated.   

Why are we giving on-site field presentations?

One of the most exciting aspects of working in the field is that we get to move through historically and culturally fascinating places, the very places that inspired the cultural flourishings that we are studying. These field presentations prompt you to connect the literature and culture you are studying to these places, while developing your oral communication skills and adaptability to new environments and public spaces at the same time. These interactive presentations will also encourage you to think critically about the ways in which your fieldwork is taking place in locations whose geographies, histories, and publics continually change and evolve.

How will I be evaluated?

Evaluation is based on the quality of: ideas and analysis, organisation, clear communication, engagement of other students, and effective collaboration with your co-presenters.

ASSIGNMENT FOUR: DIGITAL TRANSCRIPTION, ENCODING, AND EDITING OF DOROTHY WORDSWORTH’S POETRY AND COMMONPLACE BOOK, DCMS 120 (40%)

What is the assignment?

For this assignment, students will be helping Dr. Levy build her digital edition of Dorothy Wordsworth’s poetry, which is being developed in partnership with SFU’s Wordsworth Special Collections and the Wordsworth Trust. The digital edition is based upon two sources: (1) printed editions of Dorothy’s poems as they appeared during her lifetime in poetry collections published by her brother, William Wordsworth (all of these rare books are available in SFU’s Wordsworth Special Collections); and (2) manuscript copies of her poems, as held by the Wordsworth Trust Library (and as digitally reproduced in an online database to which the library subscribes).  Students will be assigned specific poems, in both print and manuscript, and will be responsible for transcribing, encoding (in TEI-XML), annotating, and contextualizing these poems. Much of this work will be done before we leave; however, students will have access to the original manuscripts, to be viewed under Dr. Levy’s supervision, as part of our short course we are taking at the Wordsworth Trust. Students’ work will be vetted by Dr. Levy and added to the digital edition currently in development, and their contributions will be credited on the Wordsworth Trust website.

Why are we doing this assignment?

One of the most important and rewarding aspects of advanced literary study is archival work and textual editing. Through this assignment, students will learn about field work as researchers, entering the archives of both our home institution and the Wordsworth Trust, and learning how to engage with archival material responsibly and meaningfully. Students will also learn important skills in textual and digital editing, including text-encoding in TEI-XML; and will acquire a theoretical understanding of the possibilities and limitations of remediation, the process by which more and more manuscript and print artifacts are being digitally represented. Finally, students will have the opportunity to have their research made accessible to a wider public via dissemination on the web.

Which digital tools will you use? For this assignment, you will be learning basic text-encoding using TEI-XML, the standard mark-up language that has been developed for texts in the humanities. Students will receive extensive training, and will begin encoding their documents while in Vancouver.

ASSIGNMENT FIVE: LIGHTNING TALK SLIDE SHOW (20% of grade, 10% each)

What is the assignment?

At the end of our stay in London and then in the Lake District, students will present an eight minute slide show on the salient moments of their learning in each site to the entire group. You will follow a simple presentation format where you show twenty-four images, each for twenty seconds. The images advance automatically as you talk along to the images. You can draw from your previous fieldwork assignments, and also build on and add to this work.

Why are we doing this assignment?

This assignment allows you to reflect critically on your fieldwork and share some of your discoveries and insights with the group that has shared this experience with you. It is meant to be a lively and entertaining capstone to our work, while also giving evidence to your learning.

Which digital tools and image banks will I use?
Students can use PowerPoint slides or the web-based Prezi platform for their presentations. Students can prepare their presentations ahead of time to the specified twenty seconds per slide and eight minute maximum by uploading their presentations to YouTube; students then can simply press play during the presentation and not worry about the management of the slides.  You might also want to use Photoshop to edit your images. Avoid packing your slides with images and texts: one image and one word is likely better for audience comprehension, and remember that the slides are accompanied by your narration. There are a number of royalty-free digital image banks that you can use for any images that are not your own, such as Image*After, Stockvault, and Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr.

How will I be evaluated?
Evaluation is based on the quality of ideas and analysis, ability to communicate clearly, adaptability to the lightning-talk structure, engagement with questions and discussion, and good time-management.

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