Virgin Land: Objectives

In the simplest terms, our objective is -- over time -- the creation of a hypertext version of this classic work in American Studies. We already have a certain amount of material created by previous M.A. classes. The material is something of a mixed bag, varying in quality and finish and, in some instances, may be barely usable. We do have a scanned text to work with, as well as a number of contemporary reviews, essays on Smith's or Virgin Land's significance to the American Studies Movement, illustrations from the first edition, and some maps. Our task is to move this body of material toward the next stage of its evolution, primarily by linking it to resources that will help thicken it, in Clifford Geertz's sense of that term.

I don't really know what any part of this should look like. It might inlclude editing and extending a piece of existing work, e.g., the maps, the illustrations, or the bibliography of Smith. It might just as easily include links to existing electronic resources, or to resources of our own manufacture. I'm hoping that discussion of the relative merits of these and other ideas for extending the text will give us, not only a somewhat different way in which to see the text itself, but something like consensus about what we should do next.

As I see this, we should target 10/27 for submission of the projects; this way, we can do the initial reading, thinking, and discussion in the first week, then go on to reading The Machine in the Garden while you're doing whatever work needs to be done. As always, more rational schedules will be welcome.

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