American Studies @ Virginia is a project of the American Studies Group at the University of Virginia. This group includes participants in graduate and undergraduate American Studies Programs in the English and History Departments, related interdisciplinary programs in other departments, and the Electronic Text Center.

Our primary objective is to pursue the study of American culture(s) across temporal, spatial and institutional boundaries. Our initial goal is to link electronically the very rich resources in our field -- human and material -- here at the University of Virginia. And in this sense, AS@UVA is primarily an exercise in community building, an effort to create a virtual community of students and teachers here at UVA. But we also want to expand the conventional notions of academic community to include participants and contributors who are not residents of Thomas Jefferson's academical village but who do share a passion for American Studies. We will make available to this larger community the resources here at UVA, as well as resources elsewhere in the Commonwealth and across the Web. At a number of points and in a number of projects, we ask for participation from interested members of these larger communities.

A second but no less important objective of the American Studies Group is to augment the number of electronically accessible materials in American Studies by creating digitized texts, hypertexts, multimedia classes, and hypermedia projects in this field. This seems to us an important step in developing the new technology's potential for enhancing teaching and learning. We want to make widely available texts that have -- whatever their original power and significance -- become invisible in our own time. In some instances, these are print texts that have sunk below the horizon of awareness and now slumber in library special collections. In other instances the texts are not be texts in the conventional sense of that word at all, but images, sounds, structures, objects, or events that make up the macro- and micro-narratives of our culture(s).

Whatever kinds of text we work with, we want to make them available as hypertexts, as enhanced texts that recover in some measure the context out of which they were originally produced and received and that allow them to speak with that fuller range of implication they had for their original audiences.

Finally, in our experience, the production of hypertext can itself be an important, powerful, and valuable part of the learning process. It offers a real opportunity for something like case method study in the Humanities, study focused on highly specific and concrete phenomenon but requiring broad general knowledge of the contexts out of which the phenomenon arose as well as a larger understanding of the interpretive models through which the phenomena are examined. In addition, hypertext construction offers opportunities for both individualized and group learning, for active rather than passive learning, and for authentic inquiry rather than passive reception of conventional wisdom.

For a fuller discussion of this site, its methods and objectives, go to AS@UVA:Virtual Space -- Actual Learning

Last updated February 23, 1997