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Artifact #2: Illustration Interpretation

Calendar Common First Week Assignment Artifact #1 Artifact #2 Artifact #3 Twitter Multimedia Portfolio

Students will create and justify new illustrations and data sets about late 19th and early-20th century illustrations to accompany one novel by H. Rider Haggard. To complete this artifact students will select one of Haggard’s novels (excluding She) with at least fifteen unique illustrations on Visual Haggard: The Illustration Archive to read outside of class. Only two students per section may select any text (text selection list: Section A4; Section B7; Section HP2). They will then write descriptive metadata for each of the images associated with this novel archived on Visual Haggard. These tags must conform to the standards and conventions established during class discussion, and in secondary sources like the Library of Congress Subject Headings; the J. Paul Getty Trust’s Categories for the Description of Works of Art, and the Visual Resources Association. These data sets will act as a form of close reading because the process of tagging these images permits students to identify otherwise easy-to-miss patterns in a large corpus. Next, students will use this dataset to create a new illustration inspired by their findings. Finally, students will write a statement (500 words) reflecting on the assignment and explaining what quantitative data sets reveal to be the most compelling, surprising, and/ or historically significant argument that their data reveals.


This assignment challenges students in four ways:

H. Rider Haggard Novel & Illustrations

Students will select and read novels written by H. Rider Haggard. The text of these novels is freely available on Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and/or Google Books. While reading these texts, I suggest that students use the illustration archive Visual Haggard to experience these books graphically. Because illustrations were meant to be seen as the plot progressed it is unwise to reserve seeing them to a later time.

Descriptive Metadata Tags

Using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, students will create a spreadsheet listing all the illustrations available on Visual Haggard for their assigned novel. Students will write descriptive tags for each of these illustrations. Be sure to include a column identifying the image ID, and please hyperlink this ID to the appropriate webpage. If the same illustration appears in multiple Illustration IDs on Visual Haggard, you only need to write the metadata for it once. Just copy and paste the tags for all relevant Illustration IDs in your spreadsheet to the corresponding IDs. In other words, all illustration IDs for your Haggard novel must appear in your spreadsheet; however, the metadata you compose may be redundant for multiple objects.

Descriptive Metadata Tags

Although this is an individual assignment, if student pairs reading the same Haggard text wish to collaborate on the data set, and submit this set together for their grade, I encourage you to do so. Please let me know if you choose to work with a peer on this portion of the project.

Necessary Information to Include in Tags:

Optional Information to Include in Tags:

Collage and Paper Circuit Illustration

Students will create visual interpretations of a passage of text from the Haggard novel they selected based on a pattern identified in their data sets. Students will identify patterns in the datasets they write. These might be curious and seemingly mundane, such as the number of times Haggard’s male protagonist appears in a standing position compared to his female protagonist, or they may point to more more serious issues, such as the absence or marginalization of African characters in books set in Africa. These illustrations should reimagine and push-back on Haggard’s text and possibly an illustrator’s interpretation of it (Satire, Remix). For instance, a re-mix might reverse the gender roles depicted in the nineteenth century illustrations by showing the female characters in a standing position. They might include all African characters and remove the imperialists. In short, you should not simply copy an existing illustration, but rather reinvent it. The best projects will demonstrate 1) planning, 2) time, and 3) an interesting and thoughtful intervention in Haggard’s text.

Before beginning your design, decide what elements must be included in this illustration (characters, plot, scenery). How should these elements be arranged? Could you illustrate this scene in order to make a political statement? What strategies might you use to critique Haggard’s attitudes in regards to race, gender, religion, etcetera? How could you update the scene for the modern-day? Illustrations can be as realistic or abstract and even non-objective as you choose. We will critique your design as a class before you create your final draft.

As part of this course’s emphasis on digital humanities and electronic technologies, and thanks to funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries, these illustrations will include an interactive component. All illustrations must incorporate LED lights using the supplied materials. The artist Ashley Schick will give us a tutorial about creating paper circuits in class. Your instructor will provide all materials necessary for creating paper circuits (LED lights, copper tape, and batteries) as well as scissors, markers, pencils, art paper, and National Geographic Magazines. You should be prepared to devote the entire class period to creating your illustration. In fact, you may wish to print out images to add to your collage.

This unit combines critical thinking with creativity. Students will have a large and varied number of resources to create interesting and beautiful illustrations.

Supporting Document

Reflect on the process of creating your data set and illustration in a 500-word supporting statement. What argument does this dataset allow you to make about the illustrations created to accompany Haggard’s novel? What was the most challenging part of completing your data set? Did you notice patterns immediately, or not until you used Open Refine? What patterns did you notice in these illustrations (list and explain several)? How did you select a section of the text to illustrate and how does it relate to previous illustrations created to accompany Haggard’s text?


Reflection (Due with Mahara Project)

Optional: Ruby Program to Check for Incidence of Words