The Assignment

ENG 5083 Bibliography & Research Methods

Spring 2019

Dr. Ashley Bender

Working collaboratively with your peers, you will create a digital collection that draws from your archival research in the TWU Woman’s Collections. This task is an important one, bearing equal parts recovery, revelation, and preservation. As we excavate texts, photos, and other materials, we have an opportunity to shape the ways that these authors, their lives and work, and the library that houses these materials contributes to (or, in some cases, may nearly have been erased from) “cultural memory.” The story you tell will ultimately be left up to you and will largely depend on the materials you choose to work with. 


Scope of the project

You will create a digital collection that draws from one of the following topics/sets of materials:

  • Women writers

  • letters (ideally, letters by women)


The completed digital collection will consist of

  • A landing page that explains the collection, who you are, your methods, &c. It will also include some images and additional links to, e.g., featured items and resources. 

  • Subcollections that have their own landing page, featured items, images, resources, &c.



  • A collaborative introduction to the digital collection (500 wds/contributor) (20% indiv. component; 7.5% whole enchilada)

  • An introduction to the subcollection you work on (500-750 wds) (27.5%)

  • Metadata for 12 (text-based) items, with the goal of having at least 10 of those items go live + 2-3 images.(30%) 

  • Collaborative bibliography/works cited: everyone contributes the sources they use to this artifact (10%)

  • At least two featured items per contributor (the number of featured items will depend on how the subcollections shake out. For example, the Rodenberger collection includes enough materials for three people to work on it; other collections are small enough that a single person can manage them). You should provide a clear rationale for the selection of the featured items. Why these and not others? Process for this TBD (possibly alluded to in introduction to seamlessly integrate these sections) (5%)

  • Banner images for the main collection page and for the subcollections (??)

  • Class Blog - One blog post (500 words) is required, taking place of your project reflection. Possible prompt: What was the most meaningful part of the project for you? (NG, but 10% deduction for not completing)

  • Not required but possibly useful: On intro pages, sections for additional resources, or browse subjects, &c. (see existing digital collections for examples).

  • A note on grading: Only completed projects will be eligible for grades. Any project with missing components (collaborative introduction, subcollection introduction, fewer than 8 metadata entries or fewer than 8 complete metadata entries, bibliography, and featured items)


Telling a story

What do you want to share about these materials? What should we learn from them? What can we learn from them? Why should we pay attention to them? In addition to designing the digital collection and creating an introduction to the material, you will also contribute to the metadata for the items included in the collection. The collection will eventually go live on the TWU Library website. 


I cannot dictate what must be included in the digital collection, as this will, in part, depend on the materials, how you choose to group them, and what you want to say about them. Some topics you may want to think about as you craft your introductions include

  • Particular themes, issues, or kinds of items to look for

  • Biographical information of the authors

  • Your subjectivity/the class: who is putting this together and why? 

  • Your methodological approach for selection

  • A clear rationale for selection

  • Additional resources


Suggestion: Collaborative projects can be challenging. We’ve all had those experiences. Don’t make this one of those projects. Consider how you can work together to make this project successful and to make sure everyone pulls their own weight. You might want to think about dividing into teams. You might want a general manager (general editor?) and then others who manage smaller groups and help ensure that work flow keeps moving. I am here to facilitate, but this is ultimately up to you. 


The best way to prepare for this assignment is to spend time looking at other digital collections, both at TWU and on other libraries’ and museums’ websites. Learn the genre. Do the genre. 


Your responsibilities

As archival researchers and scholars, we have a responsibility to honor the materials, to be transparent about our processes, and to be mindful of the ways that our own subjectivities shape the work that we create and the way we engage with the world around us—and the materials we choose to engage with. As collaborators, our responsibilities extend not only to our readers and users, but also to each other, and to our partners in this project, specifically the TWU Woman’s Collections staff. Be mindful of each other’s time and theirs. The library staff prefers appointments. Consider making those appointments now to help set benchmarks for your assignment. Do not show up at their office and expect them to be able to assist you immediately. Most of all, it is our responsibility to ask for help when needed. I am here as a resource for you, as is the library staff. You are also one of the best resources for each other. 


Works Cited

McGann, Jerome. A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction

Harvard UP, 2014.