I have been brainstorming ways to allow for more creativity in my courses. I have attempted to design a project that is focused, has specific learning aims, and allows the students to explore course material and thematics in their own ways and through their own stories; however, my idea is still rather broad, and I am afraid will leave them in a bit of a panic. I have desgined the following assignment for an introduction to American literature course for both English and non-humanities majors. The course is focused on questions of geography and space. This assignment counts as a small grade percentage and includes an oral presentation.
Students will construct a project – a song, poem, collage, slide show – about one of the spaces and places of American literary culture. Students are encouraged to think about how space and place are working in one or more of the course’s literary works. They might: consider how space, geography, and location are represented in the text and how this representation corresponds to the space historically; express how course themes influence the way we think about certain spaces, monuments, or locations (i.e. cities, borders, neighborhoods, towns, etc) today and/or how these spaces are marked by the histories of race, gender, class, and/or religion that we discuss in the course; contrast two literary works’ representations and methods for describing geography/space/place. Students will present their project to the class in a 5-10 minute presentation.
This is still quite broad and in need of some work. I would be curious to know if others have assigned such a project and how successfull it has been.