Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wikipedia assignment

Final two-part writing assignment for an early-21st-century introductory literature class:

A couple weeks before the end of the term, each student chooses one text that they have read for the class, and posts it as a Wikipedia article. A complete entry would include the name of the author, historical context, a brief summary of the text's content, and a detailed description the text's form. A useful entry would also link internally to other Wikipedia articles, as well as cite external websites that support the claims made in the article.

Then, have students watch and write about how their Wikipedia entry is flagged, edited, shortened, lengthened, or altogether deleted. This assignment would teach students about the challenges of writing about literature in an age of new media, where text is ephemeral yet charged, and citations are at once necessary, all too plentiful, and infinitely digressive.