McLuhan Project

Download the McLuhan Project Assignment guidelines (.pdf)

Working Drafts or Mockups Due: October 9, 10:00 AM

  • Working Drafts or Mockup Submission: Either email the mockup directly or let me know you have a working draft in Scalar.

Final Project Due: October 24, 10:00 PM November 18, 10:00 PM

  • Pre-submission Feedback: I can respond to requests for feedback up through November 14. After that, I can not guarantee feedback in time to make revisions before the deadline.
  • Submission: Scalar for the Project1; email for the postwrite.
General Assignment

The goal of this project is to collaboratively create an electronic, annotated edition of Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s The Medium Is the Massage for undergraduate students using Scalar, a free, open-source publishing platform for born-digital, media-rich scholarly projects. While we will be working together to create one group publication, each of you will be responsible for your own section that you will annotate. The goal of your annotations is to provide contextualization (background and historical information); summary and explanation; commentary and response; useful links to additional information in the form of hyperlinks, traditional academic citation, and quotes; and supplementary and illustrative media (images, audio, video). Keeping within the spirit of McLuhan and Fiore’s text, you are strongly encouraged to make use of juxtaposition of text and media as part of your annotations.

Procedure for the Assignment
  1. The first thing you will want to do is select a passage, that is, a unified, standalone section of the book. There is no hard and fast rule here as to what constitutes a passage. For instance, an individual page or pair of pages might be considered a unified, standalone passage by one of you, while be considered part of a larger unified, standalone section by someone. Your choice should be driven by two factors: Your interest and enough content to meet the assignment guidelines. Examples of might be considered a standalone sections include pages 8-9, 11-13, 12, 26-41, 82-87, 82-91).
  2. Once you’ve decided upon your passage, you will want to write up and submit a proposal. (See the McLuhan Proposal Assignment Guidelines.)
  3. After I’ve given you the green light, you will want to start researching, collecting content (quotes, resources, images, audio, video) and drafting your annotations. You’ll also want to figure out how you want to display the original text.
  4. Using Scalar, start putting your section together. Working drafts are due 10:00 AM, Oct. 9.
    1. Alternatively, if you’re still figuring Scalar out, you can send a mockup via email. Your mockup should do the following:
      1. Identify the passage you are annotating,
      2. Tell me the structure you want to use. This is a hypertextual project with the possibility of multiple pages, so you can think in terms of sections as individual pages. A very traditional and perfectly good structure might involve:
        1. An introductory page where you show the passage and offer an overview of what you will do. “Here on pages #, we find such and such, and to better understand this page we should look at elements a, b, c, and d.” In annotating pages 94-96, I might start off with something very much like, “Pages 94-96 of The Medium Is the Massage encapsulate many of the challenge of reading this book. In fact, in McLuhan, or Modernism in Reverse Glenn Willmot argues that The Medium Is the Massage is often undecipherable, and points specifically to the juxtaposition of the Dance of the Dead on pages 94-95 with that of the nude cellist on page 96 (Wilmot, 160).”
        2. A page for each annotation.
        3. A summing up page that explains how you think the whole passage works together and what you think a reader should get out of it.
      3. Draft text for the annotations, including links to other media and a description (and link if possible) to media you want to include.

Your project should include the following:

  • The original text (images of the text, transcriptions, pull-out passages, or a combination of approaches),
  • A minimum of 4 annotations,
  • A minimum of 3 sources,
  • A minimum of 1 media file (image, audio, video) beyond an image of the original text (this can be embedded in your project or linked to),
  • Recommendations for further reading,
  • A minimum of 750-800 words of original text, which is roughly 3 pages double-spaced typed. While original text means text composed by you rather than direct quotation (including from dictionaries and encyclopedias), it can include summary as long as you cite your sources.
What I Mean by Annotations

In terms of scholarly activity, to annotate something is to add critical or explanatory notes to a text. The kinds of annotations you might want to add to your chosen passage from The Medium Is the Massage include:

  • Contextualization (background and historical information): information that will help a reader understand the book, especially from the perspective of 1967. For instance, explaining who specific individuals are such as John Cage; providing information about things like the I Ching (p. 119) or the TV show Bonanza for pp. 74-75, or what dove cotes are; the kinds of technologies McLuhan might be talking about when he talks about electronic media in 1967; or what kinds of efforts were being discussed to use TV as an educational medium back the mid 1960s; etc.
  • Summary and explanation: Summarize the passage or parts of the passage, restating what McLuhan is saying so in a way that might be more clear to a potential reader – very much like how I’m summarizing Stephan Ramsay’s Reading Machines for all of you.
  • Commentary and response: Comment and respond to what McLuhan and Fiore state. Connect what McLuhan is saying in your passage to contemporary media that further illustrate his points, offer interpretations to what McLuhan wants us to get from the passage as a whole, or as to how the text and images work together, or connect what is being said in your passage to other passages or to McLuhan and Fiore’s overall argument.
  • Useful links to additional information in the form of hyperlinks: The lectures I post to the course website are full of links to additional resources for you to follow if you want to follow up on what I’ve said. Since this is going to be a digital, online project, you can include links to useful content in much the same way I have been for you. Maybe you want to provide a link to a Bonanzarelated website if you’re looking at pages 74-75, or to John Cage’s official website if you’re looking at page 119.
  • Traditional academic citation and quotes: Having done some research, you should have some opportunities to engage in the traditional academic citation practices of summary, paraphrase, and quotation.
  • Supplementary and illustrative media (images, audio, video): Again, since this is a digital, online project, you can find other resources (images, audio, video) to either include inside your project or to which you link. The Marshall McLuhan Speaks site we’ve used has lots of video. And there’s plenty of audio and video on the web that you can link to as well. For example, just limiting yourself to YouTube, there’s plenty of video and audio of John Cage performing his music or of others performing his compositions, and YouTube has a clips and episodes from the TV show Bonanza. So, for instance, instead of simply referring to, summarizing, and explaining the importance of, and including a link to more information about John Cage or the TV show Bonanza as you might in a traditional school project, you can also include a link to a YouTube video of John Cage or Bonanza for your readers to watch, or embed media right inside your project.

Once you’ve finished your project, write a one- to two-page narrative that explains your project. Like a tour, your narrative will walk me through and talk about the project. If you quote any outside materials, please include a works cited or works referenced at the end.

Your narrative should be single-spaced and make use of headings that divide your narrative into sections.

Signing Up with Scalar

To get started creating your section of the McLuhan Project, you’ll need to set up an account with Scalar. To do so, please do the following:

  1. Follow the Scalar link and click on the yellow “Get Started” button in the middle of the page.
  2. Please register using your Winthrop email address. You may use a pseudonym if you wish.
  3. Leave the Book Title option blank unless you want to create your own project to play around with separate from our class project.
  4. Please email me the name with which you registered so that I can add you to the project.

Some Scalar guides to help you get started with Scalar:

  1. I will set up the Scalar project for the class and send out information on how to access our project

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