Group Project #2: Creating an annotated “edition” (due Thursday, 10/22)

Cane CaneJean Toomer; Harper & Row 1969WorldCatRead OnlineLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

The overarching purpose of this project is to put the theories of Barthes, Bauer/Zirker, Iser, Drucker, et al. into practice by collaborating on “editions” of a text, in this case Toomer’s Cane. Obviously, it takes many hands and several years to create a publishable edition of a literary text, so we will keep our expectations modest and emphasize the process of collaboration and the experimentation with the affordances, design choices, and relationship with “implied readers” that digital publication allows.

In class, we decided by consensus to work within the following parameters:

  • two roughly equal groups will each create an edition: each group selected a relatively narrow “frame” for the edition. Whereas a printed “Norton Critical Edition” of a literary text, for example, aims to tell a “general reader” everything they need to know to feel oriented to the text, our editions will focus on a narrower (but more novel) issue:
    • group one (ADD NAMES) will create an edition focusing on popular and “folk” culture represented and reworked in the text.
    • group two (ADD NAMES ) will create an edition that links the text to its “reception history,” embedding quotes and links that give readers a sense of how Cane has been read, focusing on the 1920s and perhaps its revival in the 1970s in conjunction with the “Black Arts Movement” and the rise of African American Studies in the academy.
  • both groups began discussing next steps:
    • choosing a platform (some suggestions are here), creating a division of labor and workflow, and scheduling things out to ensure finishing within two weeks.
    • I want to emphasize that I want you to experiment and enjoy the collaboration: I am realistic about what you can do in two weeks and am perfectly happy with a partial edition that is a “proof of concept.” For example, group two might limit itself to the 1920s reception of the text, or it might add “reception history” only to the “Kabnis” section. Be realistic and follow your interests where they go.
    • Here is a Zotero group I hacked together to collate Cane resources. I’ve already linked to the Modernist Journals Project and a couple of scholarly works linking Cane to music; feel free to add your own. If you’re interested in joining so you can add resources and collaborate with your team on the Zotero group, let me know and I’ll add you.
  • instead of formal presentations like last time, we will have an informal discussion of the process/product on 10/22, though you still might want to designate a spokesperson for your group as one of the “jobs.” I do ask that, as for the first group project, each team member compose a brief post for the blog (500 words max) reflecting on a) the process/product as a whole and b) your specific role within it, with an emphasis on what the experience taught you that theorizing about annotation, marginalia, readers, and editions, or consuming such editions, didn’t.
  • evaluation will be very similar to last time, with a group comment/grade and an individual comment/grade. The criteria are only slightly changed:
    • adventurousness: does the text take risks, or just play it safe? Does the edition resemble other standard “critical editions” in print, or does it do something new, using digital affordances to engage readers in novel ways or devise a new angle on the text that will be fresh to readers?
    • quality: is the product accessible and user-friendly? Does it articulate a clear relationship between the “primary text” and your “secondary” comments on it? Was some attention paid to aesthetics and design?
    • reflectiveness: does the presentation (and the discussion in the seminar and on the blog) reflect careful thinking about the project? Did the secondary readings by Barthes, Bauer/Zirker, Iser, Drucker, et al. inform the project in any way?

Here is the version produced by the Group with No Name (their chosen name). They gave a rather decentralized approach, with each member cultivating their own garden and yielding a wide range of supplementary materials. They used the platform:

Jean Toomer – Cane: A Critical Introduction

Team: Conn Mac Aogain; Martin Glick, Ostap Kin; Senom; Lola Shehu This is a digital annotated edition of a selection from Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923). This project was produced as part of an assignment for the Textual Studies in the Digital Age graduate course. The text used is from the Project Gutenberg ebook.


And here’s the Office Gingers’ version, which used and emphasized Cane’s engagement with visual art and popular music:

Annotation of Jean Toomer’s Cane

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