Meiji Restoration Project

  • Oct. 6: Digital Tool Flea Market
  • Oct. 27: Topic selection and team formation; digi-lab time for project planning
  • DC Trip: Discuss and plan project with your group members; at the Sackler Gallery, be on lookout for artifacts and ideas you might incorporate.
  • Mon., Nov. 20, 2:30-3:45: Work on projects with your group
  • Tue., Nov. 28: Prototype 1 due at the beginning of class (category = MR prototype 1)
  • Thu., Dec. 1: Prototype 2 due at the beginning of class (category = MR prototype 2)\Wed., Dec. 6: Final Prototype due at 3:30, for display in Digital Studies Showcase (category = MR Final); bring 2 print copies of reflection essay.

Topics & Groups

For this assignment, you have identified and formed groups of 2-4 based on your interest in exploring specific aspects of the Meiji Restoration.

  • Gender/Sexuality: Anna, Maria
  • Legends/Mythology/ Ghost stories: Nina, Wiley, Raven, Ellie
  • Visual Art/Origins of Manga: Daniel, Alan, Wilbert
  • Military Affairs: Cole, Jeffrey, Lucas, Henry
  • Fashion/Clothing: Hanaa, Chloe

Each group should narrow these broad topics to a more specific focus, do some research, narrow some more, research as necessary, and communicate your findings in a Knightlab JS Timeline or some other digital resource of comparable value and interest to people want to to learn about the Meiji Restoration.

As with the Russian Revolution Timelines, you should narrow your topic considerably, especially because the end of the semester is just around the corner and your time is limited. Thus if your topic is military affarirs, you might want to focus on either a particular conflict or an aspect of military modernization (not both) ; if your topic is legends/ghost stories, you might focus on one legend or story; if your topic is art/origins of manga, you might focus on a single woodblock print. Since you have considerable experience working with primary sources, you may find it productive to gear your project around a single or small set of primary sources. You may also work with any of the primary sources you choose for your artifact analyses and/or for our class discussions.


To get an overview of your topic, consult tertiary sources on the event, figure, or issue you want to explore — i.e., reference sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and guides. These are sources that present generally agreed upon information about the subject.

From tertiary sources, you can then turn to secondary sources for scholarly arguments about your topic. You may work with Buruma only, but you’re welcome to consult other sources as well. Ask your profs if they know any good sources and/or schedule an appointment with a librarian. Begin with recent articles and work backwards, using Project Muse, J-Stor, and Pro-Quest Research Tools, which often link you to full-text articles. If you find a book on your topic via the Library catalog, you can save time by reading a book review first. When you turn to the book itself, read the introduction, using the table of contents and index to find relevant sections. To read secondary sources efficiently, try doing a secondary source report


The Meiji Restoration Project offers you a chance to dive deep into a specific topic or question and play around with a digital tool. You have a lot of freedom to experiment within these parameters:

  • Your project must offer insight into a specific aspect of the Meiji Restoration.
  • The information presented in your project must be accurate, and your analysis and interpretation must be logical and supported with evidence.
  • Your project must use a digital tool or platform to communicate your research in a clear, engaging way.
  • Your project should be interesting to you. What do YOU want to know more about?
  • You should learn or discover something in the process of creating your project, so that you have some insight to communicate to your audience.
  • Your project should be interesting to us. You should incorporate text, images, and other media strategically, in order to involve your readers /users in your argument and to illustrate your claims.
  • Your project should be simple and intuitive to navigate even for someone not familiar with your digital tool or platform. Good UX design (“user experience”) may require you to include an explanation of what the project is and instructions on how to use or interact with it.
  • No paper-ease or passive voice: your project should communicate what you’ve learned and what you think about the topic in your own voice(s), in the simplest, clearest language possible.
  • Your project must include a bibliography of all works consulted and cited, as well as citations for all images, in correct MLA Style.

Possible Tools

Possible tools include but are not limited to:


Drop in at the Digital Workbench Friday, Oct. 27th, 3:30-5 pm in Studio D:

  • Digital Workbench is an informal gathering without a set agenda. The purpose of Digital Workbench is to build community to increase productivity, share ideas, and get help from peers when needed.
  • Anyone who is interested in or currently working on a web site or any type of media are invited. Instructional designers will be available to assist.
  • Refreshments will be provided.
  • BYODevice

Seek help from Media Consultants, whose expertise and ingenuity will astound you (Sun-Thu, 8-11 pm, Studio D).

Project Scope

How big should your project be? Think small, because the digital learning curve will require time, courage, and resilience. Your topic should be narrower than a typical research paper topic because the work of digital design requires you to reinvent both the scholarly process and product. Set aside time to investigate any copyright issues that might be involved in online use or publication of the work of others.

If you’re tempted to create a digital archive of Meiji ghost stories, for example, scale back and think about creating a digital archive for one story, including a narrative introduction/interpretation and access to related primary texts (e.g., a PDF of the story, facsimiles of various reproductions, JPEG images of various illustrations).

You should also adjust the scope of your project in relation to the size of your group. Groups of 2 should choose a very narrow, manageable focus and realistic digital resource. Groups of 3-4 should also be judicious, thinking about how to divide up responsibilities so that everyone has clear, significant, and manageable responsibilities.


The most successful teams begin with an open conversation about process and product. Take a few minutes to talk to each other about what you need to be successful in group work and what gets in the way of success. Agree on communication and coping strategies.

Successful teams also set clear, realistic goals, assign roles and responsibilities, and create a calendar of internal deadlines, using whatever communication tool they find most helpful (google docs, google calendars, Outlook, Slack, etc… Establishing clear roles, responsibilities, and deadlines up front helps distribute the work evenly and keep everyone up to speed. Make sure your project has a clear endpoint: how will you know when your goals are met and your work is done?

Reflection Essay

Your reflection essay (250-500 words) is a chance for you to reflect on what you learned and how you learned, that is, on both content and form, produce and process. It is a chance for you to give credit where credit is due, either to your group members, yourself, or anyone else who helped you along the way. Your essay should:

  • describe your team’s goals and the process of your collaboration,
  • identify your specific contributions to the project, as well as those of your group members.
  • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the project in relation to the goals you set,
  • reflect on what you learned about the topic and about yourself in the course of the project.