While this course has been, in part, about various literatures of what we have been calling “Pre-America”–American Indian myths and legends along with narratives of exploration, contact, and settlement–it has also been about how scholars make anthologies, and how anthologies, in turn, make arguments about the materials they assimilate and collect. American Indian Myths and Legends, while it explored a remarkable diversity of material, seemed less intent on helping the reader situate those materials within their distinct tribal cultures, focusing instead on thematic collections on “creation” stories or “trickster” tales. The historian Donald Hall who put together The Puritans seemed to focus more intently on theology, using that framework as a reference point for addressing issues of contact and settlement. In separate assignment, we experimented with strategies for contextualizing documents (via the early narratives of colonial South Carolina) and selecting them (via our excerpts from Cabeza de Vaca’s exploration narrative).
In the second half of the course, even as we continue to think about literatures of exploration, contact, and settlement, we are going to do so not by passively reading and discussing such documents, but by creating our own class anthology of Colonial South Carolina documents.
While the shape and scope of the anthology remains somewhat flexible, the project will require you to do the following:
- Select two texts–either two from the SCHC or one from SCHS and one from an online archive or resource–dealing with Colonial SC (prior to the Revolution)
- Compose a 3-4 page double-spaced headnote for each selection in which you contextualize your chosen texts using at least four sources to situate each selection (Wier and Wood can be used in your bibliography for both) within its distinct historical backdrop. In addition to the sources you use to compose your headnote, please also direct the reader to additional sources for research and compose any clarifying notes on the text as necessary for any unfamiliar names or terms. Here’s a rough guide to writing the headnote–everyone’s topics will call for slightly different treatment, but this is the broader scheme we came up with in class on Thursday:
- Broad introduction to your thematic cluster: most of your contributions gather a few documents that are related to a broader concern (Jewish identity, for example, or music, or medicine). The first paragraph should introduce us to this thematic cluster you have chosen.
- The thematic introduction paragraph should flow directly into the first headnote and source. Each source will have a separate headnote.
- At the beginning of the headnote itself, you should provide what we called an “essential orientation”–the who, what, why, and when of the document and the author.
- After providing the essential orientation, you should offer a more specific justification for the relevance of the specific document. Ask yourself: why should the reader care? While the broader thematic introduction to your cluster made a case for the a broader sense of relevance, this portion makes the case for each specific document’s relevance / importance / interest.
- Once you have established the above, you should summarize the document itself: what is the document, what is its argument or goal, what are the salient features of the text (that is, what should the reader focus on)
- Next you will contextualize the document using relevant critical sources. You can offer biographical context, generic context (in terms of genre), and / or cultural context. This part should be sensitive to how the text fits into its own historical moment, and how it relates to our own contemporary concerns.
- Conclusions offer some freedom; you can return to make a case for relevance in light of your summary and contextualization; you might make a mores specific argument about the text and how we should think about it. You have some real freedom here.
- Transcribe, edit, and annotate (create informational footnotes for) your sources, preparing them for online presentation.
- Compose a 300-400 word reflection on the process (Blog 6); this project requires a good deal of high-level independent work and it will not be easy. You will run into a number of problems and snags along the way. This final 1-2 page reflection is a venue for you to honestly reflect on the triumphs and tribulations that you encountered throughout this final project. You will post and share your reflection with the class on the last day of class.
I have established a few deadlines for the project to ensure that we make adequate progress. During the first few weeks after spring break we will work our way through two seminal historical of Colonial South Carolina even as we begin learning more about archival research, taking advantage of collections at the the South Carolina Historical Society even as we explore online resources, including the Evans Early American Imprint collection and Early English Books Online (EEBO). Once we feel sufficiently knowledgeable about the history and comfortable with archival research, we will be ready make progress in earnest as we follow the timetable below:
- Friday, April 4: By class on this Tuesday, please make your initial Anthology Project selections by creating a new post in the “Anthology Project” category (you can select the category check box to the right). This will be a post that you continue to return to and revise as your research goals become more clear and complete. For this initial post, briefly describe you describe your archival research goals (why you chose the documents you did) and select two documents (one from the SCHS and one using online archives), that you hope to draw upon for our anthology project. Include as much information as possible about the document (where you found it, the publisher or edition, the box and folder number when relevant). You can ask the archival research specialists at the SCHS how to cite certain documents and what information is necessary to include.
- Tuesday, April 8: for this Tuesday’s class, return to your initial Anthology Project post and finalize your selections and clarify your justification for the selections you have made. Also, please begin building a bibliography of at least 5 sources for each selection (it is okay to include Wier and Wood, but you should branch out to more specific research as well).
There will be additional deadlines announced in the future, but I have see see where we stand as a class before setting any dates. Some of us might need until April 15, for example, to make our selections and build our bibliography. The final weeks of the course will involve building the anthology itself. I will create the online infrastructure, and you will all begin composing and peer-editing one another’s headnotes.
A note on length: some of your selections might be a handful of poems from the Gazette; others might have a 5-10 page excerpt from a travel narrative. Let’s keep 10 pages as an upper-limit, assuming most selections will be in the 5-10 page range.
A note on transcription: Some of you might have to transcribe cursive script, while others might be able to use an online transcription took to generate your text for online presentation. Adobe Acrobat Professional, which is available in the library, can convert PDF to revisable or live text. OCR Wand is perhaps the better solution, though it costs $2 on Itunes. It allows you to take a picture of a text and it converts it for you. This might be complicated given the SCHS’s prohibition on photography, but we can at least photograph a photocopy.