steps to get ready for Tuesday’s game

To review some of the next steps we talked about yesterday prior to Tuesday’s class in the LIBRARY in Room 404:

  1. Choose a role: Go to the spreadsheet I’ve set up and choose a role. I’ve put you on one of three teams, arbitrarily, so first come, first served within your team. Each team has five or six members, and each team should have a Billy, a Claggart, a Vere, a Melville, and one or two other personae from literary history. See the list for ideas, or generate your own. If the roles are maldistributed in some way, we can fix that on Tuesday.
  2. Read Billy Budd: we’ll have lots more time to keep reading, so do your best. But Tuesday will be much more fun if you’ve got basic command of the text.
  3. Play in the demo game: you should be able to sign into the site using the same username/pw as for our course site. If you want, create a role in the existing game and make a move, just to get a feel for the interface.
  4. Think about research strategies: I’ve put a bunch of stuff on reserve and am building out a page of research links; we’ll also have help from Iris and Stephanie in the library. But you should think about what you need to know in order to play your part: something like the research questions that you pose at the early stages of researching an essay.

Billy Budd, Gamified

Our next unit will focus on Billy Budd reimagined via the Ivanhoe concept we’ll be discussing tomorrow. I’ve invited you to a site I’ve created to host our game and created an initial game to serve as a sandbox. Check out the documentation, which is aimed at instructors more than students, but has useful descriptions of how to set up roles, make moves, add to others’ moves, comment on moves, etc.

I’ll keep adding stuff to the site, and we’ll start a fresh game next week, once we start hacking out who is going to play what role. I’ll also share some guidelines re: evaluation, expectations, tutorials, etc. And we’ll meet in the library on Tuesday next week (as well as for two additional sessions in subsequent weeks), so you’ll have access to a computer, tech support (well, me), and support for research (one or two librarians will join us and help you locate good sources for your roles).

Post #4 assignment: reflection on annotation project

  1. For this post, I’d like you to reflect on the process and product of the annotated edition that you created together. As usual, I expect 400-800 words, but I would like you to address the following (either in essay form or, if you like, in a list):
  2. How successful was the project? How might it help a novice reader of the text? How might it be improved, either in terms of its aims or its execution of those aims? What insight do you have into what “real” editors do when they prepare an annotated edition (e.g., our Norton edition of Melville)?
  3. What did you learn from creating your own annotations? How did your exploration of intertexts like Delano’s narrative, etc. inform your reading of Benito Cereno?
  4. What did you learn from reading everyone else’s annotations? How is reading our edition different from reading the text in the Norton?
  5. Knowing what you know now, how would you approach the project differently? You might think about different research parameters (especially in light of all the different ideas we voted on last week), a different platform (e.g., a more formal, book-like mode of presentation rather than the “layer” of annotations that adds), or a different research process.

Quick examples of sh*t Drucker hates

Since we might not all remember intimately the recent history of e-book design, I thought I’d show an example or two of the kind of “nostalgic” design Drucker mentions with scorn, design that focuses on how books “look,” not how books “work.” Here’s an example of the ersatz page-turn via Apple’s iBooks app as late as 2013:

Screenshot 2016-03-14 21.17.04

And here’s the “bookshelf” that an iBooks user would have selected titles from, also as late as 2013:


This is called “skeuomorphic design” and involves in the case of e-books, making screen-based objects resemble their 3D counterparts in the real world. Apple has recently moved in the opposite direction, as you may have noticed, towards a “flat” design that foregrounds the two-dimensionality of its screen-based objects/spaces/environments.

ACERT event of interest on wikipedia

There’s an event at ACERT on using Wikipedia in the classroom that’s relevant to our class in various ways. The presenters, Iris Finkel and Chanitra Bishop, are wonderful librarians (we’ll meet Iris in a couple of weeks in our library sessions), and the theme of democratic writing/reading spaces where authors are readers and vice versa, will sound very familiar.

RSVP if interested: 12-2 in HE 1203.

nice collection of materials on Amasa Delano

Here’s a patchy site that has collected a great little trove of useful materials on Delano for our annotation project.

For a more robust search, check out America’s Historical Newspapers, a searchable collection of newspapers from Delano’s era accessible via Hunter’s library. Here’s a look at what I quickly slurped up in 5 mins of searching; I’m sure you can find more:

  1. Vermont Centinel
    Publication Date: September 2, 1807
    Published As: Vermont Centinel, Burlington, Vermont
    Headline: From a Boston Paper. Tribute of Respect
    Article Type: Letters
  2. Republican Watch-Tower
    Publication Date: September 1, 1807
    Published As: Republican Watch-Tower., New York, New York
    Headline: [Capt. Amasa Delano; Perseverance; Boston; King; Spain; Gold Medal; Majesty’s; Spanish]
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  3. Mercantile Advertiser
    Publication Date: August 27, 1807
    Published As: Mercantile Advertiser, New York, New York
    Headline: [Captain Amasa Delano; Perseverance; Boston; King; Spain; Oold Medal; Majesty’s; Pacific]
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  4. Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser
    Publication Date: August 25, 1807
    Published As: Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Headline: To Which Letter, Capt. Daland, through the Morning of Mr. Council Stoughton, Turned the following Answer Boston, Aug. 8, 1807
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  5. Portsmouth Oracle
    Publication Date: August 22, 1807
    Published As: Portsmouth Oracle, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
    Headline: Boston, August 8, 1807
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  6. Public Advertiser
    Publication Date: August 22, 1807
    Published As: The Public Advertiser, New York, New York
    Headline: Boston August 3, 1807
    Article Type: Letters
  7. Public Advertiser
    Publication Date: August 22, 1807
    Published As: The Public Advertiser, New York, New York
    Headline: Tribute of Respect
    Article Type: Letters
  8. Salem Gazette
    Publication Date: August 21, 1807
    Published As: SALEM GAZETTE., Salem, Massachusetts
    Headline: [Commodore Preble; Capt. Amasa Delano; Perserver; Boston; King; Spain; Gold; Medal]
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  9. Newburyport Herald
    Publication Date: August 21, 1807
    Published As: NEWBURYPORT HERALD., Newburyport, Massachusetts
    Headline: [Capt. Amasa Delano; Perseverance; Boston; South America]
    Article Type: News/Opinion
  10. Spooner’s Vermont Journal
    Publication Date: December 22, 1806
    Published As: Spooner’s Vermont Journal., Windsor, Vermont
    Article Type: Advertisement

group project #2: annotated edition for Benito Cereno

We voted today and decided to do an annotated version of Benito Cereno together on the theme of relevant intertexts, especially the narrative of the real Amasa Delano. Here are the ground rules:

  1. We will use to annotate our text.
  2. We will use the dead simple “edition” that I’ve posted on our site using the plain text version from Project Gutenberg.
  3. Each student is responsible for minimum three annotations taken from some text that’s relevant to Melville’s text. Easiest, of course, is comparing aspects of Delano’s text, which you can find in searchable form here or in your Norton, where it’s reprinted. You could also search for other relevant historical texts on (for example) slave revolts or the activities of sealers or ideas about Senegal and enslaved Africans returning there or whatever you can think of. I’ll post relevant intertexts as I think of them and locate them. Hathi Trust is an amazing trove of old texts that are searchable, so you might poke around there.
  4. Evaluation: I’m most concerned that each of you clear the bar of (only) three annotations, which will get you a good solid B. More notes will be rewarded, as will especially lucid notes, and notes from surprising sources. Evaluation will not be as stringent as with the first project, since this is a quicker/dirtier project by its nature.

Sound good? Have fun and see you Tuesday. The annotations are due a week from today, Friday March 18th.

Two pieces on the politics of BENITO CERENO

You might be interested to read two recent reflections on the relevance of Benito Cereno to the present political moment. The author, Greg Grandlin, focuses on the the rise of extremist right-wing politics via the Tea Party (and now, of course, Trumpism) and the utter dehumanizing and delegitimizing of President Obama in one piece and, in the other, aligns the sunny liberalism of Amasa Delano with a strand of American imperialism no less troubling than that of the much better-known Ahab.