Projects: Essays and Unessays

You will complete a Project for each of the three units of the course. These projects can either be Essays or Unessays.

Essays should be traditional 1500-word minimum papers connecting a single theme across multiple texts/authors from that particular unit. (These may be texts we’ve read for class as well as texts from the broader literary period). These essays should emphasize coverage as well as argument and analysis. Be sure to quote and cite the literary texts as evidence for your argument. While outside research is not required for these essays, well-deployed research makes for a stronger argument. (Word counts include all material in the essay, including headers, notes, and the list of works cited.)

Unessays should be a creation to show what you’ve learned. Maybe you could illustrate a page similar to those of The Book of Kells, or maybe you could create a board game that would teach players something about British imperialism, or maybe you could write (and perform?) a sonnet inspired by Mary Sidney. If you’re a writer, maybe write a short story that revises or rewrites a scene from Shakespeare or Milton. Paint a portrait (or do a photoshoot) in the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Maybe your project will connect something we’ve read to your experience of the global pandemic we’re currently living through. You can even consider hybrid forms between the Essay and Unessay, like a public-facing essay or an argument that builds on autobiography. The possibilities are literally endless.  (Note: Your unessay should not be a Presi or Powerpoint-style presentation.)

Your unessay should be accompanied by a 600-word minimum (or short video) explanation of what you did and why, and how it responds to the question: Why does your response to this piece of literature matter?

How will your unessay be evaluated? Your unessay will be evaluated based on how creative, compelling, and relevant it is. Creative is a broad term, but your idea should be original and unique. Compelling means that people will want to look at your project because it is attractive, interesting, and carefully produced (not sloppy and haphazard). Relevant means that it really engages with an original piece, author, or historic period that we’ve studied this semester, with attention to details and accuracy. (Unessay assignment adapted with permission from Kristin Stelmok.)

Due dates are listed on the course schedule found on each unit’s page. Please categorize each post accordingly (“First Project,” “Second Project,” or “Third Project”) and add tags as appropriate.