English1102Fall2011/Collaborative Projects

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About the Projects

The class wil be divided into seven groups of five people. Each group will investigate an aspect of the assigned text to produce a class presentation during the last day on the syllabus for discussing the book; a collaborative paper will be due on the same day. In order to complete the projects successfully, you will have to develop them throughout the two weeks available to you. The bulk of class time will be spent working on the projects and giving brief synopses on how they are going to the rest of the class. You will also have to collaborate within your group outside of class hours using online document/presentation sharing technology or email.

Some assignments (biography and bibliography; cultural context) require research and cross checking; others (annotation project, tracing project, plot trajectory, stylistic analysis) involve intensive analysis. No matter what kind of assignment you get, it is crucial that each member of the group read the primary text carefully because a significant part of the assignment will be showing how the work you have done is relevant to our understanding of the text at hand.

If your project involves research, you will require multiple sources so that you can cross check information. You must document your research and quotations in proper MLA style for both the presentation and paper. All phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that come directly from source material need to be expressed as quotations. All paraphrases should be appropriately referenced as such.


The presentations will be ten to twelve minutes long. You will use Power Point, Prezi or other presentation software of the group's choosing. Each member of the group will present for two minutes on his or her part of the project. Time your presentation exactly so that it fits within the ten to twelve minute window because once your group hits twelve minutes that will be the end of the presentation. Make sure the presentation is well-coordinated so that it isn't repetitive or incoherent.


Papers will be 4 to 5 double-spaced pages in 12 point font, formatted in MLA style. Each person in the group is responsible for the part of the paper that deals with his or her presentation slides. Each person in the group should also be responsible for one other collaborative task, such as being the general editor, introduction writer, conclusion writer, Works Cited page producer,and copy editor. These tasks should rotate through the group with each project. You should not perform a task twice until everyone in the group has performed that task. While each person in the group has a specific task, I expect you to work together throughout to produce a coherent, relatively seamless paper rather than a fragmented work.

Group Assessments

After each project is completed and prior to the next class session, each member of the group will submit a "group assessment" in which you will evaluate your own performance and that of the other members of your group. These assessments will be candid, specific and private between you and me. In some cases follow up interviews may be necessary to complete the assessment.

Project Grades

The baseline for your grade on the collaborative projects will be the overall quality of the presentation and paper. Your grade will be significantly influenced by your individual roles in the presentations and papers and by the group assessment.

Collaboration Conflicts, Issues, Problems

All collaborations involve a certain amount of tension and disagreement, which is generally productive. However, if your group doesn't get along, or a member is causing dysfunction through lack of participation, repeated absence, or other behaviour, let me know immediately. It is likely that groups will shift around somewhat as the term progresses based on the group assessments.

Project Categories

Because our theme for the course is "gender and the coming-of-age narrative," you should make every effort to incorporate this theme into your projects.

Author Biography and Bibliography

Everything about the author and his or her other work that is relevant to the text. Consider how the book we are reading fits into the oeuvre of the author.

Setting/ Environment/Cultural Context

Everything relevant about the time and place in which the book is set and time that the book was written. Consider what we call the "Zeitgeist" or the spirit of the age as it is represented in the book. Think about the meaning of cultural objects and references such as music, books, politics, and art.

Annotation Project/ Tracing Project

These projects are all about noticing details and making them relevant to the text as a whole.

A detailed annotation of a significant page of the text if we are looking at a conventional novel.
A marked up tracing of two distinct pages if we are looking at a graphic novel. See here for detailed instructions


Produce a "cardiogram" of the book that shows its key moments and their relative intensities. Explain the significance of these moments to the overall development of the book. Consider which moments are intense because they are "events" and which because they are "ideas."

Style Analysis (Artwork/Writing)

What are the stylistic particulars of the writing or artwork. How would a reader recognize this author's work?
For graphic narratives look at line, shading, shapes, the appearance of characters and objects, the use of colour, the arrangement of panels, ven lettering.
For conventional narratives look at sentence length, modification patterns, figurative language, description, characterization.

Thematic Analysis

Identify and discuss the big ideas of the book. What does the book value as right and wrong, good and bad?