PDF version of this assignment.

Due Dates

  • Abstract: Friday, April 1 by 10 pm via email
  • Presentation: Monday, April 18 in class
  • Final Project: Monday, April 25 by 10 pm via email


The culminating assignment in this course asks you both to gain some hands-on experience with some of the tools and methods we have discussed this semester, and to think and write more broadly about the value of those tools and methods for literary studies and the digital humanities as a whole. The assignment has two parts: 1) a prototype or a proof-of-concept digital project that employs some of the tools and methods we have discussed this semester, and 2) a conference-length paper that contextualizes the project and discusses its implications for literary studies and/or the digital humanities.

Details & Requirements

The assignment has three steps:

(1) Project Abstract: A 400-600 word sketch of the project, due on Friday, April 1 by 10 pm via email. You should think about this as taking the form of an abstract that you would submit to a conference. It should describe your idea for your project in some detail and point to its larger implications. This does not necessarily commit you to anything, as you will be free to change your mind as you work on the project itself. We will discuss your project abstract and ideas in one-on-one meetings on Monday, April 4.

(2) Project Presentation: During our last class on Monday, April 18, you will present your final project to the class in a 7-10 minute presentation. Since these presentations will take place at least a week before the project is due, you obviously do not need to have your project done by this point. Instead, you can think of the presentation as more informal and as being about reporting your in-progress work: you will describe your project idea and the tools/methods you’re using, discuss what you’ve done and what you have left to do, and then provide an overview of your paper.

(3) Final Project: The final project itself has two parts:

  • A prototype or proof-of-concept of a digital project employing at least one of the tools/methods we have discussed this semester. This project must include some “hands-on” or applied element, but it need not constitute a “fully completed” project. Given the time constraints of the semester, in other words, it can contain some speculative elements. For example, if your idea involved creating a digital archive of Octavia Butler’s papers (currently held at the Huntington in LA), your final project might consist of a certain amount of those papers encoded in TEI (this would constitute the “hands-on” element of the project), and then a mockup of what your imagined interface for exploring and/or analyzing her papers further would look like (this would be the more speculative aspect of the project).
  • A conference-length paper (8-10 double-spaced pages) about your project. You may focus this paper on any number of things, but here are a few ideas:
    • You could adopt the style of the Stanford Lit Lab pamphlets (we’ve read several of these throughout the semester) for your paper. These pamphlets generally focus in one general concept (character-space, for example), and then use digital methods to explore this concept further. If you went this route, your digital project would constitute the digital method or suite of methods you are using to explore a particular concept.
    • If you think your project has led you to a new discovery/argument about a specific domain of literature or literary studies, you could write a more straightforward conference paper wherein you use your project and its method(s) to make an argument, just like you would in any other conference paper.
    • If your project has led you to think about literary studies and/or digital methods in new ways, or if you are interested in doing some more research about digital methods more generally, you could write a conference paper that is focused less on your specific project per se, and more generally on the digital humanities and/or on digital methods in literary studies and the problems/opportunities/issues these methods raise. This would also take the form of a more straightforward conference paper wherein you would make an argument.

There are other possible forms your paper might take, and I’m happy to discuss them with you if you have an idea not represented here. As with any graduate paper, it should incorporate some readings from class and involve your own outside research.

This project is worth 50% of your grade in this course.