Due Dates

  • You should sign up for an Exhibit group and a dead writing technology by class on Thursday, November 19
  • Your individual Collection is due Friday, December 4 by 10:00 pm
  • Your group’s Exhibit is due on Thursday, December 10 by 10:30 am
  • Your individual Statement of Contributions is due on Thursday, December 10 by 10:30 am to Blackboard

NOTE: Because of the short amount of time I have between when your final projects are due and when your final grades are due, unless you make prior arrangements with me (meaning at least 24 hours before the final project is due but hopefully MUCH SOONER), I cannot accept late final projects at all.

Project Overview

“The déjá vu haunting of new by old media is clear enough.”

— Alan Liu, “Imagining the New Media Encounter”

The final assignment for this class is about taking all that we’ve learned about print and digital writing technologies over the course of the semester and using it to build something together. We’re going to build an online museum of sorts: The Dead Writing Technologies Project. We will use Omeka to build the museum. Omeka is a web-publishing platform similar to WordPress (which this site uses) but designed specifically for building scholarly collections and exhibits of archival materials.

The Dead Writing Technologies Project will tell the stories of dead or forgotten writing technologies. This project has both individual and collaborative components. First, you will form an Exhibit group of 2-3 people. In consultation with your group members, you will each individually research a historical writing technology that flourished and then faded from popular view. You will then each create an individual Collection for The Dead Writing Technologies Project comprised of Items related to the history of your chosen technology.

For the group component of this assignment, you will use the Collections you and your fellow group members have created to build an Exhibit with your group. What this Exhibit is and how you organize it is up to you. You might create an Exhibit that tells the history of each of your chosen dead writing technologies. You might create an Exhibit that interprets the cultural significance of each of your chosen dead writing technologies in some way. You might create an Exhibit that ties all of your chosen dead writing technologies together in some other, thematic way. There are more options, but the main idea is that your group’s Exhibit should tie your chosen writing technologies together in some way.

Assignment Requirements & Details

This assignment has four parts:

(1) Form your Exhibit group and choose your dead writing technology. You will choose your dead writing technology in consultation with your Exhibit group. This will make building an Exhibit together easier. Your chosen dead writing technology might be very old or relatively new: new writing technologies have emerged since the invention of writing, while some popular technologies introduced as recently as a decade ago are already obsolete. A “dead” writing technology should mean less than “completely and totally banished from human culture” and more than “no longer hip.” To put this idea another way: a tiny community of dedicated enthusiasts should not rescue a technology from our calling it “dead,” while still-widely-accessible technology ignored by cutting edge users (think CDs, perhaps) should escape the label “dead” for the purposes of this assignment. At the same time, you should feel free to think about the term “writing technology” very broadly. You might consider this list from the original Dead Media Project as you choose your technology. If you have questions about whether something qualifies as a “dead writing technology,” just ask.

Sign up for your Exhibit group and chosen technology here:

This portion of the assignment must be completed by class on Thursday, November 19.

(2) Research your chosen technology and assemble your CollectionYou will upload Items related to the story of your dead writing technology to your own Collection on our class Omeka site. The Collection you assemble will be just that: a group of images, documents, parts of documents, notes, or other materials that are related in some way to your chosen writing technology. You might find these materials online, via the library databases (newspaper articles especially), or in books from the library.

There is no set number of Items to include in your Collection, but the minimum number of items is 7. Note that this constitutes a minimum. Precisely how much your Collection includes will be determined by the work you put into it, the Exhibit you have planned with your group, and your writing technology itself.


  • Always take note of the source of every Item you collect, and always make sure that you have the right to use or present that Item as part of your Collection. Make sure that materials you find online are not under copyright before uploading them to your Collection. This especially applies to materials produced after 1924 and to images. The public domain is your friend. Avoid stock images entirely. If the author of an image or other kind of material asks for attribution, you must provide that attribution. Wikimedia Commons is a great source for finding public domain images and Creative Commons Attribution images.

This portion of the assignment must be completed by Friday, December 4 at 10:00 pm. You will also submit a list of the individual Items that comprise your Collection and their sources to Blackboard at this time.

(3) Create an Exhibit with your group, utilizing the Collections you and your group members have made. The Exhibit is where your group will interpret the Collections you have created to provide context and meaning. Exhibits are composed of pages, generally an initial page that introduces your exhibit and subsequent pages composed of the items from your group’s Collections that you wish to highlight and/or relate to each other. Exhibits may be as short as one page or consist of multiple pages.

When creating your Exhibit, I recommend that you begin by considering what the goals of your group’s Exhibit are. Come to an agreement on what the answers are the following two questions:

  • What do you want your Exhibit to communicate?
  • How will your Exhibit frame the Items you have all collected in a meaningful way?

After you’ve agreed on these questions, you should then consider the following questions:

  • How did your group’s writing technologies innovate, diverge, or respond to even earlier media?
  • What precisely was new about your writing technologies when they were “new media?”
  • What were the cultural effects of these technologies during their heyday? Did they produce substantive changes in domestic life, politics, art, or other spheres?
  • Were there competing media or technologies that attempted to meet the same needs or fill the same niche as your chosen writing technologies?
  • How and why did your technologies decline in importance?
  • What were the lasting effects or products of your technologies? Were they a media “dead end” or did new media evolve from them? How do your technologies linger on in newer media or technologies?
  • What is the importance of these technologies today?

You need not address all of these questions in your Exhibit; what questions you address will be shaped by the goals of your group’s Exhibit. When designing your Exhibit think CONCISE, INFORMATIVE, and CREATIVE. The idea here is that the form’s restriction (paradoxically) promotes your creativity, as some might argue the formal restrictions of certain poetic forms — say, the villanelle — force the poet toward ever-more-deft feats of language.

Your Exhibit group will meet with me during our in-class Workshops in the final week of classes to discuss your plans for your Exhibit.

There is no minimum length requirement for your Exhibit, but I do expect that each of you will contribute equally to creating the Exhibit. This means that groups of 3 people will have more material and person-power to work with when creating their Exhibit than groups of 2 people, so I would generally expect their Exhibits to be “longer,” or more involved. That said, the Exhibit should be as “long” as it needs to be in order to communicate as compellingly and as effectively as possible what your group wants it to communicate. Keep in mind that the final project represents 25% of your course grade.

This portion of the assignment is due on Thursday, December 10 by 10:30 am.

(4) Compose a Statement of Contributions. This document is a record of the individual contributions you have made to the final project as a whole. You should include the following in this document:

  • A statement detailing your specific contributions to the group’s Exhibit. What was your role in planning the Exhibit? Which portions of the Exhibit did you write/construct/produce?
  • An evaluation of your group’s Exhibit overall and of your individual contribution to the Exhibit that is no more than 1 paragraph long. What grade would you give your group’s Exhibit overall? Why? What grade would you give your individual contributions to the Exhibit? Why?
  • I hope this does not happen, but this would also be the place where you would let me know about any unresolvable problems within your group that led to imbalances in workload, if any should occur.

I strongly recommend that you create and add to this document as you work on your final project rather than try to do it all at the end, which will be harder and will lead to a less thoughtful and detailed product.

This portion of the assignment is due on Thursday, December 10 by 10:30 am to Blackboard.


The final project is worth 25% of your course grade. Half of your grade for this project will come from your individual contributions to the group project (your Collection and your individual contributions to the Exhibit). The other half will come from your group’s Exhibit as a whole (how it functions as an Exhibit, whether or not it’s effective as an Exhibit, how compelling it is, etc.). While the final decision regarding your grade will be mine, I will take the grades you give yourself and your group as a whole very seriously. I expect that in many (perhaps all) cases the grades you give yourself will match the grades I give you because I trust you to evaluate yourself and your group fairly.

Any time you collaborate with others, there is always the chance that the workload will be distributed unevenly. You as an individual will also not have full and total control over the final product. These are the risks of collaboration; my hope is that the benefits of this assignment will outweigh these risks. I also trust you to communicate with me if there are any problems of this kind. We are a community, and this assignment asks us to function as one.

Many thanks to Ryan Cordell and Mark Sample, whose assignments inspired this one.