Concluding a Course with a Collaborative Public Project: Keywords for Literary Studies

This blog describes how I organized my Introduction to Multicultural Literature course around a collaborative, public final project. Rather than a traditional final paper, the course concludes with students co-authoring a digital glossary of Keywords for Literary Studies. What follows is a lightly edited version of my remarks for the Digital Pedagogy Roundtable at MLA 2020 in Seattle. 

Introduction to Multicultural Literature is a course with many objectives. It needs to fulfill students’ diversity requirement, introduce them to close reading methods, build on the writing skills of earlier courses, and, of course, get students excited about college literature courses. This can leave little time for discussions of digital literacy, which I believe are crucial for our students.

To help achieve all of these objectives while also preparing students to communicate effectively in the digital age, I conclude every semester not with a final paper, but with a collaborative digital project in which students co-author a glossary of keywords for literary studies. With this assignment, students work in small groups to identify a key term related to course readings and discussions (race, memoir, ghosts, etc.) and co-author an entry for the digital glossary. Each keyword entry includes an analysis of the term’s etymology, a discussion of its importance for literary studies, and a close reading of at least one text we read that semester (often multiple texts) that demonstrates the keyword in action.

Read the full post on HASTAC.