PDF version of this assignment.

Sign up for projects here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15fwcpDmvGiPVMzTuGN4OMAI8n4DA7COMeg31MZRfZ44/edit?usp=sharing

Due Dates

  • Sign up for key project: Friday, March 11 by 10 pm
  • Key Project Analysis: Friday, March 25 by 10 pm via Blackboard


This assignment is meant to start your wheels turning in terms of thinking about the final class project. Its motivation is to introduce you to the kinds of digital projects that researchers and students in the interdisciplinary field of the digital humanities are currently working on, and, ideally, to inspire some ideas for our own digital project.

This assignment has two parts. For the first part of the assignment, you will identify and do some preliminary research on 5 “key projects” in the digital humanities (see the next section for a preliminary list of projects you might choose from). You will produce an annotated bibliography that describes each of these projects and their contributions to literary/cultural studies and/or to the interdisciplinary digital humanities community as a whole.

In the second part of the assignment, you will choose one of the key projects you researched in the first step to study in more depth. Ideally, this project will have some bearing on your own interests and/or your initial ideas about what you would be interested in doing for our final project (or it will just be the one you’re most interested in). You will then analyze this project in 3-4 double-spaced pages (1000-1400 words), paying attention to your project’s methodologies, innovations, interpretive power, and design. Your aim will be to help us all understand the project’s contributions to the discipline of literary/cultural studies and/or to the larger interdisciplinary digital humanities community.

Possible Key Projects

I would like the class as a whole to investigate as many different projects as possible so that we can get some sense, as a group, of what’s out there. This requires some planning. Therefore, no more than two people may write about the same project for the second part of this assignment. Once you’ve decided what key project you’re going to write about in your 3-4 page analysis, please use this spreadsheet to sign up for that project. If another person also signs up for that project, you may work with them to research the project. But you both must write your own analysis of this project. Your analysis must represent your own work.

You must sign up for your project by Friday, March 11 at 10 pm. Please note that you do not need to sign up for all 5 of the projects you will research for your annotated bibliography. Just for the one you will write about in the second part of the assignment.

The following list includes some possible projects that you may choose from. I’ve mainly included projects with a literary/cultural studies bent, but some are more historical. If none of the projects below appeal to you, you can also use the DHCommons project registry or the Around DH in 80 Days initiative to find something that you’re more interested in.

As you are doing this assignment, you should feel free to contact the author(s), editor(s), participants, or project lead(s) involved with your project about their work. Not only will they be able to answer any specific questions you may have, they may also be able to give you valuable information about the project that you can’t find online. It’s also been my experience that scholars and students in the digital humanities are generally kind, and also very willing to discuss their work, its methodologies, and its innovations.

Details & Requirements

(1) Annotated Bibliography: The requirements for the annotated bibliography are as follows:

  • 5 key projects. You should cite these projects in the following way: Author(s)/Developer(s), Title of the Project, University/Research Center/Group affiliated with the Project (if applicable), Project URL.
  • 1-2 paragraph summaries of each project (about 200-400 words each). This should include the following information:
    • The author(s)/developer(s) of the project and their respective discipline(s) (i.e., are they literary scholars, historians, etc.). Who made/is making this project?
    • A short description of the project. What is this project? What are its primary goals and aims?
    • A brief summary of what the project’s primary contributions to literary/cultural studies and/or the digital humanities might be, in your estimation. Why is this project important/interesting/useful/etc.? What does it contribute to our knowledge of literature, culture, or history? Why might scholars and students of literature “care” about this project?

(2) Analysis: The requirements for the analysis portion of the assignment are as follows:

  • 3-4 double-spaced pages (1000-1400 words)
  • Citations and format according to some established citation style (MLA and Chicago style are generally the easiest for text)
  • Your analysis should focus on answering the following questions:
    • What does this project contribute to the larger body of knowledge in literary/cultural studies? And/or to the interdisciplinary field of digital humanities? Why is it important?
  • You might also consider the following questions as you write your analysis of this project (You do not need to answer all of these questions in your analysis; they are listed here to get you thinking):
    • What are the project’s strengths and weaknesses?
    • What assumptions have been made in designing the project? (What are the project’s sources? How is the site designed? etc.)
    • Who is the project’s primary audience? Is it addressed to other researchers, students, or both? What discipline(s) does it seem to be addressing?
    • How does the project connect to other work, either in the digital humanities or in literary/cultural studies?

Like any analysis, your key project analysis should be as specific as possible. You should spend less time describing the project, and more time analyzing its contributions, value, and/or importance. You should feel free to include quotes from the project pages, from project participants, and/or from any scholarly or news articles that have been written about the project. You might also include course readings if applicable.


The Key Project Analysis is worth 15% of your grade in this course. You will be graded on whether or not you effectively meet all requirements of the annotated bibliography portion of the assignment. Have you researched all of your chosen projects, and synthesized this information successfully yet concisely? You will also be graded on the specificity and scope of the analysis portion of the assignment. Have you done the work required to research your chosen project in more depth? Does your analysis reflect deep engagement with the project you are writing about? Is your analysis specific, is it organized logically and effectively, and do you make compelling points about the value or importance of your chosen project?


  • Choose a frame or organizing principle through which to structure the analysis portion of this assignment so that it’s clear what specific point(s) you are making about this project. One way to frame this assignment might be to organize it according to the various contributions you feel your key project makes to literary/cultural studies and/or the digital humanities. You might also think about organizing your analysis according to the various methodologies your project uses (this might be especially effective if it employs more than one approach).

  • Sometimes, project leads and/or participants will publish articles about their projects. You should take some time to search scholarly databases to see if there are any articles about your chosen project. You might also look participants up online and peruse their personal/academic pages; often, they will list their publications on these pages.

  • I strongly encourage you to take the time to reach out to the people involved in your project to see if they are willing to talk to you about it. Very often, they will be able to provide valuable information about the project that you can’t necessarily find online. This will lead, hopefully, to a better analysis. However, this will also require planning and time management – and it will mean you will need to start working on this assignment earlier than you might otherwise.

Thanks to Ryan Cordell and Brian Croxall for previous versions of this assignment.