NewtFire logo: a mosaic rendering of a firebelly newt
newtFire {19cBrit}
Maintained by: Elisa E. Beshero-Bondar (ebb8 at Creative Commons License Last modified: Monday, 07-Dec-2015 15:28:52 EST. Powered by firebellies.

Due dates

  1. M 11/9: Choose your text to annotate.
  2. W 11/18: Complete a draft round of annotations and choose a topic to investigate at greater length in the paper.
  3. T 12/8: Submit research paper and finalize annotations on the digital text.

Overview of the Assignment

This assignment involves your choosing a text to adopt and to create your own web edition of it, using the annotation tool to write researched annotations directed to an audience of literate and interested readers on the world-wide web. It will also involve you in writing a research essay on your text, regarding its approach to a significant issue in nineteenth-century literature. The essay you write might take the form of a website pointing to your edition, but should first be drafted in a word processing program for careful review.

Select a Text

Begin by selecting a web edition of a text from the list below, and use to annotate the list with your name to “claim” this text. Note: It’s important, unless you have arranged this with me, that each of you work with a different text. If you would like to work with a text or a website edition that I have not included on this list, locate a good web edition of it and speak to me about working with it. If I have listed a question with your topic, I will expect you to address it in your annotations and documentation on the text.

Part 1: Create an Annotated Edition of Your Text:

You are tasked with “adopting” the text you have chosen, to take the lead in researching the contexts in which this text was written as well as its references to people, places, events, other writers and texts. You (alone, or in a group of two) will write annotations that guide readers through the poem. Your audience would be other users, a growing community of annotators on the public web mostly rooted in educational institutions. Your annotations should gloss all unfamiliar names and phrases, and should guide readers through the text’s shifts in topic or location, discuss difficult passages and, where relevant, alternate versions in other editions. Comment on uses of imagery, symbolism, and sensory effects, and provide context for these. Your glosses should link to relevant information on the public web, and reference current scholarly articles and/or books discussing this text.

At least four of your annotations should demonstrate that you have read current scholarly articles or books discussing this poem (current, meaning published in the last 10 to 15 years, or at least between the 1990s and the present). While your annotations should speak to a general audience of readers on the public web, we also aim with this assignment to add a layer of academic scholarship to lend authority, accuracy, and reliability to the annotated editions you are creating. You will therefore include a list of at least three bibliography citations in an annotation on the title of your text, as references for further reading, and you will cite specific sources within your annotations. Only provide links to sources available on the public web. You should have other sources you have located in the Pitt Digital Library, but a direct link may not be possible to reach these without a Pitt login. Follow MLA Citation style, adapted for presentation in your annotations, in this form:


Author’s Last Name, First. “Article Title.” Journal Title. Volume: Issue (Date of publication), pages. Name of Library Database (e.g. JSTOR, Project Muse, etc.) (If you can find the article on Google Scholar, link out to it.)


Author's Last Name, First. Book Title. Place of Pub: Publisher, date. Pages.

Part 2: Write an Essay, Synthesizing A Discovery or a Amplifying a Particular Topic in Your Annotations

In the process of writing your annotations, you will discover particular focal points of interest, some of which should prompt larger reflections on the text you are discussing, such as for example how it responds to a particular historical event or to social issues like gender or class inequality. You might investigate how your text reflects or responds to Orientalism, or how it represents exotic non-English cultures, beliefs, and practices. Or you might notice how your text responds to scentific ideas of its time, or speculates on altered mental states such as dreaming. Build on the research you began with your annotations to investigate this topic in more detail. Based on your careful and close reflection on the text you have annotated and the reading you have done. Your paper should reference at least one or two of your annotations, pointing to the edition of the text you have anntoated online with a link, and you should cite least four to six authoritative sources. Think of this paper as growing out of your annotation research, to amplify a particular discovery of interest and explain it more thoroughly and with reference to more portions of the text than you could easily do in single annotations. Your paper should be about five to seven pages in a 12-point font (about 1200 to 1800 words). Submit the paper on Courseweb.

Doing the Research:

Do Your Research in Stages:

  1. Start with the Search Window in PittCAT+. Start a list of keywords and keyword combinations connected with your topic ideas. Experiment for a while:
  2. Refine your search: Use the delimiters on the left-hand side of the search screen to narrow your search:
  3. Work with specific databases when attempting to track down something specific—such as to read reviews at the time a text was published, or to see how a writer or a scandal was represented in 19th-century British Newspapers. Try the database leads posted in our Libguide (Library Research Guide) for our class. Please feel free to check in with me at my office, or our Reference Librarian, Amanda Folk, for help with this.

Citing your sources: Use MLA style, with parenthetical documentation in the text of your paper. Use the “How to Cite” Tab on our Libguide, which contains some helpful links and models (including to the Purdue OWL for MLA style.) Libguide “How to Cite” Tab

***Confused? Need Help? Ask me! I can help if you are having trouble understanding something in your source materials, if you aren’t quite sure how to approach your annotations or focus your paper, if you would like some personalized guidance with researching, or if you would like me to read a draft. Stop by my office in FOB 204 or write me at ebb8 at to arrange a meeting with me.