Digital Resource


Create a scholarly or teaching digital resource on your avant-garde figure. Use the category  “AG Dig Resource” and insert active hyperlinks to each of your prototypes, clearly indicating which is the 4th (and final) one.

The avant-garde writer project is designed to train you in the scholarly processes of humanities research and give you the freedom to experiment with digital expression of your findings.

  1. The FIRST STEP is preparing an annotated bibliography, finding, organizing, and describing the most important primary, secondary, and tertiary sources related to your avant-garde figure(s). The annotations or summaries of your sources help you grasp their significance as individual works.
  2. The SECOND STEP is composing a literature review, an essay in which you synthesize and discuss your secondary sources to determine not only what the experts are saying, but also how they are responding to one another. SSRs are part of this step, and these reports help you grasp individual arguments more fully and figure out how and where they respond to other arguments. Mapping the different scholars within ballroom helps you figure out the major debates and positions within the debates. The essay then requires you to convert the ballroom diagram into a coherent narrative.
  3. The THIRD STEP involves making an intervention in the scholarly debate. Typically this intervention takes the form of an academic paper or scholarly article, but in this class, you will instead create a digital scholarly or teaching resource on your avant-garde figure(s). This resource could be an online academic paper, but if so, you should think about how digital publication can transform it: what can digital essays do that print papers can’t? Or you can depart more dramatically from the traditional paper form and make something else. That something should be a way to intervene in the debate, either by preparing newcomers to understand and enter the conversation (teaching resource), or by pushing the conversation forward (scholarly resource). In the spirit of avant-garde experimentation, you will create several prototypes, revising and potentially even scrapping one and starting over in response to user testing.
  4. The FINAL STEP involves writing an individual reflection essay (500 words) in which you reflect on the process of creating your resource. Turn in a print copy of this essay on the last day of class. Your essay should (in no particular order):
    • Describe what you made, the collaborative process, and your roles and responsibilities in the project.
    • Identify your goal(s): what were you trying to do in digital that can’t be done in print or in an unwired classroom?
    • Evaluate your success in fulfilling the goal(s). Remember that you can fail to meet your goals, but still have a worthwhile project with important learning outcomes.
    • Explain how your project builds on your research and intervenes in a scholarly conversation about your avant-garde figure(s).
    • Identify your intended audience and explain how your design choices reflect that audience’s needs.
    • Discuss in specific terms what you learned from the project. What are the important take-aways? How might you apply these lessons to future endeavors?


Your challenge in this project is to do something avant-garde by reinventing scholarship and/or teaching for the digital age. As you experiment with inventing a new digital resource, you should aim to uphold the best of traditional scholarly and pedagogical methods, such as:

  • close reading
  • an informative lecture or introductory narrative
  • participation in conversation with experts and scholars
  • thorough, retraceable research, reflected in a Works Cited (MLA Style)

Your project should draw upon your annotated bibliographies and literature reviews. It should be clearly informed by the knowledge and expertise you’ve gained through researching, teaching, preparing an annotated bibliography, and composing a literature review.

As you create and test your prototypes, keep coming back to these questions:

  • What are you making? Where will it live? How long will it last? How will you know when it’s finished?
  • How does it build on our research and intervene in (or prepare users to enter) a critical conversation?
  • What is your primary goal: what are you trying to do digitally that you can’t do in print or an unwired classroom?
  • Who is your intended audience?
  • How and why will your audience use your resource? What design choices will you make to meet their needs? How will you make your audience aware of your resource?

The focus on audience may be the biggest difference between print and digital scholarship. The success of a digital resource is measured by UX, or user experience. Good UX Design means creating a resource that is intuitively navigable, informative, and pleasurable for the reader/user. You will create several prototypes and test them on your classmates and as many other users you can coerce into using the resource.


How big should your project be? Since digital projects often entail more design and technological work than you might expect, you should think “small” and realistically about what you can create, while embarking with a spirit of adventure, creativity, adaptability, and resilience. Your topic should be even narrower than a paper topic because the work of digital design requires you to reinvent both the scholarly process and product.

If you’re tempted to create a digital archive of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, for example, scale back and think about creating a multimedia archive for one O’Hara poem, possibly with related primary texts and an explanatory narrative. Also remember that you have to set aside time to investigate any copyright issues that might be involved in online publication.

Here are some ideas for your resource:

Whatever digital tool or platform you choose should be related to the question you want to explore, argument you want to make, lesson you want to teach, or problem you want to address. So figure out what you want to do, and then choose the appropriate tool. Possible digital tools and platforms include but are not limited to:

  • Omeka (digital archive of artifacts and primary sources)
  • Neatline (Omeka plugin that allows you to map movements across time and space)
  • Odyssey.js (open source tool for story-maps)
  • WordPress (websites, blogs)
  • Scalar (digital scholarship & multimedia books, especially good for film clips and annotations)
  • Atavist (create a multimedia long form argument or narrative. Note: it will exist on the Medium server, not on your domain)
  • Medium (create a magazine. Note: it will exist on the Medium server, not on your domain)
  • Twine (interactive, nonlinear stories and games)
  • Knightlab
    • Timeline JS (a simple timeline tool that allows you to incorporate images, audio, and film)
    • StoryMap JS (a simple tool that allows you to annotate a map, image, or text)
    • Juxtapose JS
    • Soundcite JS
  • Poemage
  • D3: Data-driven documents
  • Digital Research Tools 
  • Voyant Tools for computerized text analysis
  • TAPoR 3: a directory of research tools for studying texts
  • Use social media such as Instagram, Snapchap, Tumblr, Facebook, to tell a story or enact a conversation or community