Dr. Katherine D. Harris
English 201 (Fall 2007)

Textual History Group Project:

Page Length
:  2000 words (minimum)
Due Date: October 23

Final Form: Essay, Presentation & Wiki

Today, we read Robert Hume's "Aims and Uses of Textual Scholarship" published in the June 2005, Papers of the Bibliographical Society. In that essay, Hume criticizes any theoretical or critical approach that doesn't take into account "genesis," "production," "dissemination," and "reception."  This project asks your group to research and write about those essential areas for understanding of a literary text.

Because we have such a wealth of information in our own Steinbeck Center, this project asks you to focus on a single Steinbeck novel -- and there are many to choose from.  The Steinbeck Center has recently completed an online, searchable bibliography on Steinbeck, and the Center holds copies of much literary and cultural references to Steinbeck's works.  Before the group begins its work, it needs to reserve a Steinbeck novel on our Steinbeck Textual History PBWiki. (Each group must work on a distinct novel.)  (Instructions for logging into this Wiki can be found in an email sent to you or in the News Forum.)  Each group has their own Wiki page to use for setting up meetings, drafting or planning.  I will check on your progress through this and any other Wiki pages that you create.

By its completion, this project will overview the composition, publication and reception history (from publication to the present) of one particular John Steinbeck novel.  Guidance on how to research, write and present all of this information is offered through the below linked pages. When all is done, your group will produce a collaborative essay that will then be posted to the PBWiki.  (The final essay may incorporate other forms of media to enhance the report. However, the essay needs to be a formal piece of writing that demonstrates the group's ability to incorporate primary and secondary sources.)  

The due date for this project is October 23rd. Ideally, we would work on this project all semester.  But, this is only a fraction of what you need to know about research.  For this reason, I do not expect the final report to be comprehensive on your particular novel.  Instead, the final essay needs to exhibit the research that you have completed.  On the Practical Advice pages, you will find information on how to condense all of your research into a cohesive essay. 

Page Length:  2000 words (minimum)
Due Date: October 23

Below are several sections essential to producing a textual history. Each section should be included in the essay. Because this is a group project, you might want to assign sections to individuals.  

Composition History Overview

Publication History Overview

Reception History Overview

Practical Advice: Getting Started and Taking Notes

Practical Advice: From Notes to Structure

Submitting a Group Essay
Each group is responsible for producing this essay. Because we have the advantage of living in a technology-rich environment this semester, the final project may be in the form of a web document.  However, please be sure that you have a Web guru amongst you before committing to this form.  The essay should follow MLA guidelines for citations, Works Cited and essay format. (If you don't know this standard, please see me.)  The grade for this assignment will be based on the group essay as well as the cover memo to be submitted by each group member individually.  See the Department Grading Policy (on our greensheet) for insight into achieving a specific grade. 

Submitting the Cover Memo
Each group member will submit a cover memo that reflects upon his/her research, writing and presenting of this project. For instance, you might want to focus on the skills learned from this research project. You might also reflect upon how you could use those skills for your other seminar projects. You might also discuss the ideas that this research project inspired.  The cover memo should be at least 600 words.  Bring a paper copy and FTP a copy to the course folder. (This will NOT be posted on the wiki.)


This assignment is courtesy of Dr. Ann Hawkins, a colleague who works in bibliography and book history at Texas Tech University. She graciously granted permission its use to an entire room of  SHARP 2007 conference participants while discussing the intersection between textual studies and information literacy.