Update: This post and assignment were written about in a Cornell University newsletter;  a previous instantiation of course was cited by Priti Joshi, “Technology and the World Wide Web,” Teaching Nineteenth-Century Literature (Springer 2010), (228-229).

This semester, I’ve asked my British Literature survey students (1800-present) to take on multi-media forms of print culture. We began with a groovy 19th-century material collaborative project (which I’ll blog about in a bit). After we discussed reading practices and print culture, we moved into another form of media: Twitter!

Students have become used to writing up blog posts by this point in the semester; and they’ve become fairly comfortable with adding media to their WordPress blog entries. I’m really interested in what they create.

I keep a column open in Tweetdeck and watch their tweets. This week, I began responding to some of the tweets by asking for more creativity or offering a Twitter laugh to encourage them. It’s a great way to keep involved in the conversation. I also showed them a few Digital Humanities tweeters who use the medium well (e.g., @samplereality, @jenterysayers, and more).

The project is ongoing RIGHT NOW! Check out their tweets. The instructions are below. Please feel free to use in your courses and let me know how it goes.

Addendum (12/13/12): Some great results from this assignment:


Tweeting as a Character

Declare Character: Oct 18, 3pm

Tweeting: Oct 22-Nov 8

Hashtag: #56bchar

Tweet Analysis due: Nov 20, 3pm

In the 21st-Century, we’ve figured out ways to stay connected constantly. But, we have discovered that the 19th and early 20th-century audiences were moving towards a social networking of their own via newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines. How would they have reacted to Twitter, a social networking platform that allows only 140 characters per installment? We’re going to find out.

At the start of the semester, you signed up for a Twitter account: http://tinyurl.com/56btwitterlist

Remind yourself about that account and follow a few of your classmates (if not all!). I will be following you as @triproftri. If you haven’t used Twitter, see this tutorial for help with creating tweets, following tweeps, and more: http://tinyurl.com/8ldfrej

Now, it’s time to begin using that Twitter account for this assignment, to tweet as one of the characters or voices from our readings. Before we begin, though, declare yourself as a character or other voice by listing it on our Google Doc (see link above) by Thursday, October 18. Only 2 people may declare a character/voice/setting/structure.

The assignment is based on “Texts from Jane Eyre,” an article (http://thehairpin.com/2012/07/texts-from-jane-eyre/) that we read a few weeks ago. In that article, the voice of Jane is recalcitrant and slightly angry, something the tweeter decided before committing to tweeting as Jane. Before tweeting as your chosen entity, you’ll need to decide on a few things:

  • How will you capture the complex narratives of the poetry and prose that we have or will read
  • Will you craft a modern-day version of the character, integrating a revised language and diction for this character?
  • Or will you stay true to the author’s original intent and tweet the character’s thoughts with just a little more filler?

When you have made these decisions, plan to tweet at least once each day October 22-November 8 (excluding weekends) at the very least. Of course, you may tweet with more frequency if you would like. You should have a minimum of 14 original tweets spread across two weeks. In order to get credit for your tweeting, each tweet should include #56bchar – this is a hashtag and will make it easy to find everyone’s tweets by searching using that hashtag. (No hashtag, no credit.) I encourage you to interact with other characters/entities from our class.

You will need to save your tweets and submit them with your final blog post. To save tweets, you may use Storify (http://storify.com) or take screen shots of your Twitter page each time you tweet. (If you have another method, please use that. I want to see the actual tweets though, not just the text of the tweets.)

The Blog Post (1000 words)

In your final analysis of this assignment, provide a rationale for your entity’s tweets by answering the questions above in an essay format. The essay should then provide an analysis of the tweets themselves. The final format will be a blog post to allow you to embed the images of each tweet (or use Storify). For an example of a Storify post, check here: https://triproftri.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/revising-brit-lit-on-the-fly/#more-1127 (Just a note, Storify grabs tweets for the previous 24-48 hours. You may want to keep a running Storify if you decide to go this way.).

Since this is a formal blog post, avoid using first person pronouns. The goal of this post is to demonstrate your understanding of the complexities of a particular entity e from one of our readings. Avoid summarizing your tweets or the reading itself.

Post to your blog by 3pm on November 20.