Research Paper: Assignment Sheet

Total points: 15 points (15% of final grade)


In this assignment, each group of students will document, through a video they create, how a community uses literature to either heal from violence or promote justice, as per the course theme).

I invite you to consider your project in an open-ended manner. Be imaginative. Have fun with the project; really play with it! In saying this, I mean the following:

    • Which community will you be documenting? The community can be an online community, a religious/ethnic/racial/socioeconomic/place-based/time-based community. The community might be one you may belong to. Play with the idea of community, but as you work through your ideas, be specific about why you are defining the group you are choosing to focus on as a ‘community’.
    • What literature is the community using to cope with violence? Fiction? Drama? Poetry? I am open to thinking about literature that doesn’t neatly fit these categories, as long as you can make a case for why the texts you are proposing count as ‘literary’ documents. Remember, genre is a fluid and artificial construction, and the texts the communities you are documenting may be using might problematize these genre divisions. It might be exciting to explore what the problematizing of genre even does for the effort to cope with violence.
    • Think about violence imaginatively. Violence does not have to be physical violence. Violence can be psychological, emotional, social, legal, or even institutional. It can be the spread of narratives that inflict damage, for example.
    • Think broadly about what the video you create and what the process of documentation involved in it can look like – Will you be interviewing community members? Will you be filming places and objects? Will your video involve the students in your group doing independent research about a topic, through databases and institutions such as museums, and then speaking about what they find?

As you think about this video, try to make sure it has a narrative arc. The following is an easy way to think of the narrative arc:

      1. Setup: Introduces the situation, characters, and guides us to the main body and goal of the story.
      2. Journey: Explores the meat of the story.
      3. Resolution: The working out of the story, tying it all up.
Components of the project: :

Not submitting any of these components will lead to points being deducted from your assignment grade.

1. Project Proposal (5 points): due 3/3 at midnight via email

Your project proposal should address the following questions:

      • Which community will you be documenting? Why is this group a community?
      • What kind of literature do they use to cope with violence?
      • Which angle are you exploring – healing from violence or the effort to promote justice? How are you defining violence?
      • How are you doing the documentary work? What do you anticipate doing in your video?
      • What is each group member’s role going to be in the creation of this video?

While (d) and (e) can change as you are going through the process, I want (a), (b) and (c) to be more or less solidified at this stage.

2. Documenting Communities video + Reflection (10 points): To be presented in class on 5/12; please put the video link up on Padlet and email to me by the midnight of 5/10 (YouTube link + Padlet upload confirmation + reflection).

      • The 5-7 minute final video you have made over the course of the semester. Please make sure you mention at the beginning of the video that the interpretations of the video are your own (especially since they will later be made public-facing).
      • A 2-3 page (double-spaced) group reflection that can engage any of the following points. Make sure every member’s perspective is explicitly represented. The reflection can be as creative as you want it to be.
          1. What was your experience like undertaking this project?
          2. What did you learn about the relevance of literature in the wider world outside the classroom and its social/political/legal significance? How does literature intersect with and inform our lives outside the classroom?
          3. Was any particular feature of the literature the community used particularly suited to the effort of coping with violence? Genre? Language? Metaphor?
      • After playing the video for us, you will also deliver this reflection orally to your classmates.
Some Things to pay heed to:

1. Please make sure that the individuals who feature in your videos sign the consent form I will upload on Blackboard. Before they sign the consent forms, you will need to verbally explain the form to them and make sure they understand what they are signing. Please also record (on your cellphone is fine) your discussion of the consent form with the individuals and their affirmation of understanding.

2. Please refrain from showcasing vulnerable populations in your videos – children, incarcerated individuals, persons with deteriorated mental health, and so on.

3. Please refrain from engaging in overtly risky behavior or interacting with persons where such an interaction could pose a risk to your physical or emotional wellbeing.

Other guidelines regarding video production/technology to be used:
    • You can choose the tech you want to use for this project:
        • Check out filming equipment from the library or record the video on your cellphone!
        • Editing Softwares are available on smartphones (eg. Photos), iMovie (for Macs), Moviemaker (for Windows) or on YouTube when you upload the video
        • For filming/editing advice or troubleshooting: you can find plenty of resources online/mine your networks for this. Ask 3 before you ask me!
    • Upload the video on YouTube as an unlisted video, which will ensure that only the people you share the link with can find it – it will not be a searchable video.
    • By 5/6, put the video up on Padlet.