Project 3

ENGW1111 Fall 2018

 Digital Exhibit & Reflective Essay

In Unit 1, we discussed how physical exhibits are not just random objects put together, but often involve specific choices about what is displayed, how it’s displayed, and whom it’s displayed for. In Unit 2, we considered how technology isn’t a neutral tool, but similarly designed with certain choices in mind, choices that have effects on users. For your final project, you’re going to combine our first two units by creating your own digital exhibit. You will design a one page exhibit on our class website that focuses on a topic of your choice. (The topic does not have to relate to museums or technology). We will be using CERES, a WordPress plugin to create the exhibit. CERES will allow you to incorporate items from Northeastern’s Digital Repository Service and the Digital Public Library of America. You can also incorporate items that you find on your own.
In selecting a topic, you should think of something you’re interested in and how it has traditionally been represented, who has represented this topic, and whom it has been represented for. Your goal is to try and present your topic in a new or different way. For example, I’m interested in Southern literature, but literary studies has traditionally given more attention to Southern male writers and treated William Faulkner as the patriarch of Southern lit. I might create an exhibit then about Southern women writers, particularly ones who aren’t well known, in order to shift the perception of what constitutes Southern literature. You are still making an argument here, though it won’t come in the form of a traditional thesis statement. In my example, I’m arguing for the inclusion of more female writers in the Southern literary canon.
After selecting a topic and deciding how you might represent it, you will then start drafting a layout. Where will the text be? Where will the images be? Your exhibit should incorporate both text and multimedia (images, videos, etc.) in order to be effective. It might help to think about what you find effective on a website (probably not huge blocks of text!). You should also think about who you’re intended viewers are: students at Northeastern, people in a particular community, people in a certain profession, etc. Considering who will view your exhibit will help you make decisions about content and layout. We will look at several examples and have multiple training sessions on using CERES to build exhibits. Here is the documentation for CERES, which is also located on the “Resources” page of our website.
Some questions to consider when creating your exhibit:
  1. What is your topic and how did you choose it?
  2. How has your topic traditionally been represented? What kind of language is used? What kinds of images or videos?
  3. Where has it been represented? (Online, in museums, in magazines, etc.)
  4. Who has represented this topic? (Academics, museum employees, students, community members, activists, etc.)
  5. Who is the typical audience for these representations? (Academics, museum goers, students, etc.)
  6. What other kinds of objects/themes are represented alongside your topic? (Think of how the Nubian artifacts were presented with Egyptian ones).
  7. Is there a way for you change how your topic is represented? By using different language, media, or juxtaposing your topic with different items? How would these changes affect your audience?
  8. Who is your intended audience? Is it different than the typical audience for this topic? Why or why not?
  9. What do you want to say about your topic? How will you accomplish that through the exhibit layout and choice of language/multimedia?
Be sure to include all citations at the end of your exhibit as well as within the exhibit itself when necessary.
After you create your exhibit, you will also write a short reflection in which you discuss the rhetorical choices you made in designing your exhibit. In Units 1-2, you analyzed the rhetorical decisions made by others; for this Unit, you’re turning that analysis on yourself to think about why you made the decisions you did. Your exhibit shouldn’t be a haphazard placement of text and images, but a carefully curated space that tells a story or makes an argument.
Questions to answer in your reflection include:
  1. Why did you choose your topic?
  2. Who is your intended audience and how did you decide that?
  3. How is your representation of this topic different from other representations?
  4. How did you decide which multimedia examples to use?
  5. How did you decide what type of language to use? (Think about tone and word choice)
  6. How did you decide the layout of the exhibit? What is the effect on viewers?
  7. What is the purpose of your exhibit? What do you want viewers to take away? Do you think you accomplished this purpose? Why or why not?
  8. If you had unlimited time, resources, or technical ability, would you have done anything differently? Why or why not? If yes, what would you have changed?
You are not limited to these questions.
Exhibit Length: One page exhibit; amount of text and images will vary by project. At minimum, your project should have at least three shortcodes (a shortcode is a way to display a multimedia item) and 250-300 words of text.
Essay Length: ~750 words
Proposal Due: Nov. 6 (this counts as blog post 5)
Wireframe Due: Nov. 13
In class workshop: Nov. 27
Peer Review: Nov. 30
Final Draft Due: Dec. 4
Example Exhibits:
Catskills Institute Postcard Exhibit
Henry David Thoreau Nature’s Traces
Picturing the World Mapmaking Exhibit
Full list of CERES Projects at Northeastern