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The Assignment

What follows is an abbreviated version of the instructions students were given as they began this project.  


Each group (of three-to-five students) will produce a website that will include the following elements, all of which should be free of distracting mechanical error

  • Web links for the assigned author and book: Here you should offer as much helpful information as you can find for your particular author and book. Please provide links to biographies of and interviews with the author (even if they don't all explicitly mention your text); interpretations or reviews of the work; historical information that relates to the book; and anything else you can find. Your goal for this part of the assignment is to produce as exhaustive a list as possible. 
  • Secondary bibliography on the assigned text: A bibliography containing all of the sources that offer analysis of your particular text. This bibliography should be formatted according to MLA guidelines, and it should include only secondary materials. Some of you will face the problem of finding too much information; some of you will meet the opposite obstacle, discovering that not as much has been written about your text. I am not assigning a certain number of works that should be included in this bibliography; I am saying only that it should be, like your list of web links, exhaustive. In other words, you should provide every book review, journal article, interview, and book chapter that has ever been written about your book. This bibliography does not have to be annotated. 
  • Summary of the book's plot: A one-page summary of the story (or stories), for anyone who hasn't read the book. We'll discuss in class what makes up a good summary.
  • Additional materials relating to your text that a prospective student-scholar would find helpful.  This is another place for you to be creative. Past groups have provided, for example, a glossary containing English translations of the Spanish words and phrases used in a book; recommended reading of the author's other works; suggestions for what actors might play the characters were a movie to be made of this story; and frequently asked questions concerning the book and its author.
  • A "geographical" reading of the book in which you examine the place-awareness of the text. For this part of your website, which will be the heart of your project, you are looking to produce anything that will make your project better and more interesting. Consider your audience to be someone who lives in, say, Houston or Atlanta or Chicago, and who is counting on your website to help her or him experience the LA-ness of the novel more fully. This element of your website should include three main parts: 

(1)    A listing, by page number, of every single reference the book makes to LA landmarks, street names, buildings, neighborhoods, etc. Thus, as you read your assigned text, you should keep a pen in hand and mark each specific LA reference, possibly keeping a list of page numbers in the back of the book. 

(2)    Information and images that will prove useful to someone who is studying this book. You might consider, for instance, landmarks around LA; digital/scanned pictures of landmarks; routes that characters in the book drive in or run in or explore; local businesses; quotes about the city.

(3)    A few paragraphs' discussion of how much effort the author seems to have made at being geographically accurate. These paragraphs should introduce this section of your website and should contain at least 300 words.

If you simply do a good job at listing and identifying all the references, you are assured of a B on this part of the project. But if you're looking for an A, you'll need to do a good deal more work and be a bit more creative.