Monday, September 28, 2015

Assignment: Thematic Chapter Based on The Tempest

As my students begin synthesizing and writing about the six themes to which they have been introduced, I want them to shed any semblance of their writing being an exploratory response to a text, or a mere report of a researched source. It's time to begin drafting our book.

My current arrangement for the book is three sections:

  1. Part One: Six Renaissance Themes
  2. Part Two: Shakespeare's Tempest in Six Themes
  3. Part Three: Six Lenses on Our Digital Renaissance

In Part One, teams will work together to introduce their assigned theme. This must be based on direct readings of primary texts by the student authors.

Part Two will be a collective reading of Shakespeare's Tempest that uses this play as a way to demonstrate how the six themes are deeply integrated within a well known Renaissance text and therefore really represent Renaissance thought.  More on drafting this below.

Part Three will be focused on the present and the changes and opportunities open to our society through a massive change in our media. The Renaissance themes will be used as a way to talk about and critique current digital age culture.

For the moment, I want my students to focus on Part Two.

Each student will now draft a chapter of between 500-1000 words to contribute to this section. This draft must include the following:

  • Theme. The assigned Renaissance theme must be explicit, and should not be framed as though its readers have been members of the class producing this book, or even that they have read anything from Part One introducing the themes. That theme needs to emerge in part from a direct reading of primary sources (see below).
  • Thesis. This chapter must be driven by a central argument, one that obviously connects with the chosen theme and which gives coherence to the chapter. 
  • Primary Source - Analysis and Quotation. The Tempest must be analyzed, not just referred to, and this includes giving studied attention to specific characters and scenes, and employing apt quotations. Other primary sources can optionally be brought in.
  • Secondary Sources. Two secondary sources should be cited (and probably quoted) as part of support of one's thesis.
  • Works Cited. Although just as a separate section, not page, include at the end a Works Cited section with sources properly formatted in MLA style.
The above are pretty standard for academic writing. However, some additional parameters apply because of the nature of this as a project meant for publication to a broad audience as an ebook:
  • Rhetorical Approach: Lay Audience. Students will not write to scholars, but to a generally educated public who should not be expected to have their literary and historical background.
  • Ebook Optimized. Students will optimize their chapter for reading on an ebook. What does that mean? For purposes of this project
    --Length is relatively short (500-1000 words)
    --Image (a thematically relevant picture of some kind must be included. This must be public domain or creative commons licensed, or personally produced. If a copyrighted image is used, the student will have to seek permission from the copyright owner and have a backup image ready in case they can't get that permission. The image can be less formal, but should not be amateurish or otherwise inappropriate)
    --Broken-Up Text. (Paragraphs should be relatively short, and headings/subheadings are encouraged -- more so than what one might use in a traditional, paper paper)
  • "Collaboratively Conscious." (Even though each student will be drafting their chapter individually, their chapter should be aware of fellow students' writing and refer to this where possible. Obviously this may not be possible with the first draft.) 
This draft is due by 11 am on Monday, Oct 5, 2015. 


  1. Does this draft replace the blog post for Wednesday, then, or do you want us to write both?

    1. On Learning Suite and in class the professor talked more about Wednesday's post being about how we can tie each of the themes to our digital age today. (6 short paragraphs of our connections within each theme). This will be used to guide our discussion Wednesday.