Mann Wiki Assignment

For this assignment, you will construct a wiki entry on Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. The completed wiki will take the form of a study guide to assist other students like yourselves when studying this work. Since this is a new wiki,each group will concentrate on a single chapter of the novella.

Note: This is an assignment for my Spring 2010 World Literature 2, in-class section.

Major sections of this wiki study guide should contain:

  1. A brief summary of the work’s action, divided by sections or chapters, if applicable.
  2. A works cited page containing strong critical sources: i.e., books and scholarly articles. You may use web sites, but they will be used in addition to the strong sources. If you don’t know how to use Galileo to find sources, ask me or a librarian. Be sure use  correct MLA citation method. Please clear questionable secondary materials with me before using them.
  3. A commentary that acknowledges key themes, symbols, motifs, passages, etc. in each section.
  4. Explanatory notes that clarify confusing phrases, words, artifacts, references, etc. Think of these as extended editorial glosses for each section.
  5. Links to external resources that are applicable to the specific scene you are working on. General links should be included on the work’s main entry.
  6. A list of study questions that would help students like yourselves figure out the important aspects of each section.

This is a research project. You need to begin any project like this by collecting information on your primary text. Use the first week to read the primary text and spend some time in the library researching your topic before you begin writing anything. All references must be cited according to MLA. The more strong sources you find and read, the better your contribution to the wiki will be. Yes, you should support your observations as best you can with secondary resources, but there is room for your own ideas and interpretations in the wiki as well.

Your job here is to increase your knowledge of the text while simultaneously providing resources for others studying the work. I will post an example entry for you to base your submissions on, and you might also look at eNote’s study guide.

The site will be posted on LitMUSE Student Sites. In order to edit the wiki, which you will all need to do, you must be listed as a collaborator on the site. Choose one person from each group to email me all group members’ names and email addresses by the end of the day on 3/29/10. Using the wiki is pretty straight forward. Once you select “Edit” for the page, you’re presented with a standard word-processing-like tool bar. Please be consistent in your editing; your page should look logical and clean by the time you submit it. Please note: often cutting and pasting into the wiki editing window messes the format and makes it difficult to fix. I recommend typing everything into the window yourself.

The posted wiki will be due on 4/7/10. You have class time this week to work on the project, and we will begin discussing Mann on 4/5/10. Each section will be responsible for leading the class discussion on that day for their particular chapter. Also, be prepared to show me your wiki rough draft on Monday; I will make suggestions at that time for improvement.

The wiki will be evaluated as follows:

  1. Significant and original contributions - well written, college-level scholarship
  2. Solid research - only solid secondary sources used, web sites kept at a minimum
  3. Presentation - the site is consistent, logical, and neat - entries are proofread and free of stylistic, grammatical, and mechanical errors

Each student will receive a score for their individual contributions to the wiki, and the group will also receive a score that all members will share.

Update - 4/5/10

Most groups have posted some work to the wiki, and I just had a few comments and some additional guidance before the project is due.

Remember, this is a group research project. It’s more than posting your part and saying “I’m done, yo.” Remember, you’re not only getting evaluated for your section, but for the entire chapter. Therefore, what your groupmates do or do not do will be reflected in your grade.

Be sure the formatting is suitable for a web site, not an essay. Some of you put your names and all that other stuff on your sections, like you’re turning in an essay. This tells me you didn’t read the above assignment carefully, nor do you have a good conception of what a wiki is. Check out Wikipedia; do you see any entries with people’s names, dates, professors on top? Do you see any that try to double space? Do you see any that use multiple pages?

I have provided a couple of formatting examples. Example 1 (above, on right) is from a study guide for a novella about the size of Mann’s, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Click on the image to see it full size. Notice how the sections are broken down on one page? You should be doing the same.

Next, Example 2 is from a study guide for Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Again, this guide for act 1, scene 1 is presented neatly on one page. While this example shows the works cited at the bottom of the page, your assignment asks for one works cited page for the whole project.

Finally, Example 3 is a bit more meaty, from Goethe’s Faust study guide for the “Prologue in Heaven.” Remember, this is only an excerpt of the full entry. Again, you see specific section headings and then a consistent look in the writing below them. Notice, too, that a couple of the examples used images. This is fine, as long as the images have something to do with your writing and they’re documented correctly.

Your names should go on the “Contributors" page.

As I look over the work submitted already, there are multiple mistakes, like several pages with the same names, formatting issues (it looks like many cut and paste, even though I advised against it, and poor proofreading. When finished, you will have had two weeks on this assignment, so I expect it to be as perfect as you can make it.