Category Archives: Assignments and Activities

Gothic Spaces Google Slide Presentation

Prof. Lucas Kwong

Gothic Spaces Presentation description

For this project, each group will decide on a video game, piece of architecture, or film whose spatial structure(s) could be considered Gothic, exhibiting some of the Gothic elements we have discussed in class. Then you will create a Google Slides presentation of that place that describes the Gothic elements, analyzes the space in terms of one of the theoretical concepts discussed in class, and connects the space to one of the literary texts we have read. These presentation will be posted on OpenLab along with images and videos.

While you can/should summarize plot (if applicable), you should prioritize attending to the space in which that plot unfolds. Think about atmosphere, environment, physical/temporal location and its meaning, aesthetic choices. 

Selected Terms and Concepts:

Theoretical Concepts: Uncanny, Sublime, Abjection, The Fantastic, Terror

Atmosphere: Gloomy, haunted, confined, underground, dark, wild, decaying grandeur

Architecture: Medieval, castle, vaulted arches, intricate recesses, labyrinths, flying buttresses

Each group will complete the following tasks:

  • Decide on a video game, architectural space, or film that you think has enough of the atmospheric and/or architectural elements to be considered Gothic. Explore the virtual space, physical location, or cinematic setting.  Take detailed observation notes (each group member should take at least one page of hand-written notes).
  • Create a  Google Slide presentation (linked on Openlab) that includes the following:
    • Name and location of the space (is it in a game? Building? Film?)
    • Images and/or video
    • Description of its Gothic atmospheric and architectural characteristics
    • Two well-developed paragraphs that analyze the space in relation to one of the theoretical concepts and that make a connection between the space and at least one of the literary texts we have read. You must clearly describe the theoretical concept and provide quotes from at least 2 of the literary texts to support your analysis.
  • Present your profile to the class in a 5-minute oral presentation (using note cards). Give us a tour of your profile: explain the various elements of the space, summarize your analysis, read us some quotes, etc. 

Handout: How To Observe A Gothic Space

Video guide for the Gothic Spaces presentation

Collaborative Feminist Manifesto and Final Research Project

Prof. Megan Behrent

Below are two assignments that I use when teaching ENG 2150: introduction to Women Writers. While they were created for a particular course they can be adapted for other literature courses, particularly the final research project. 

Collaborative Feminist Manifesto for the 21st Century Project

In preparation for this project, we read a selection of political writing by women to introduce students to the “waves” of feminism, while also interrogating the genre of women’s manifestoes, open letters and statements of principles as a genre worthy of study and analysis.

Below are some of the texts I included in the syllabus:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of  Sentiments and Resolutions,” from the Seneca Falls Convention (1848)

Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” (1851). Note: for this text, we read the speech attributed to Truth, while also reading alternative versions of the speech to explore its historical accuracy, and discuss the political implications of these renditions of Truth’s speech.

Redstockings Manifesto (1969)

The Combahee River Collective Statement (1977)

Rebecca Walker, “Becoming the Third Wave”

Open Letter from the Allianza Nacional de Campesinas to Hollywood actors & other performers speaking out against sexual assault

After reading examples from the 19th century to today, students were asked to work in groups to come up with their own manifesto, statement of principles or open letter using any form they wanted. Students were asked to determine priorities and principles collaboratively before coming up with a plan to complete the rest of the activity digitally to create a group document. Students posted their work to the class to receive comments and revised their documents on this basis.

See assignment here.

Download (DOCX, 132KB)

Final Research Paper of Project 

For this assignment, in addition to the option to write a more traditional literary research paper, students have the option of creating their own syllabus for a gender studies class, or engaging in a creative project (a play, a memoir, a short story, etc.) which engages with texts and themes of the course. While some of the options here are specific to the class, I adapt this assignment for most literature classes.

See assignment here.

Download (DOCX, 20KB)

Narrative Analysis Presentation

Prof. Lucas Kwong

In this ENG 2001 assignment, students were asked to create a Powerpoint presentation guiding viewers through a narrative of their choice (story, novel, film, or TV episode). The presentations integrated the terms of analysis we have used in class so far (setting, characterization, symbolism, etc) and secondary sources that shed light on the text’s cultural context. This gave students a fun way to practice applying the elements of fiction to narratives with which they were already familiar. A detailed assignment description is available here.

To help students conceptualize their own presentations, I created a sample narrative analysis presentation based on the 2019 film Us. 

Video Tutorial on Using Quotations Effectively

I made this video on Screencast-O-Matic, using Google Slides for my visuals.  I usually spend an entire 75 minute face-to-face session on this IQIAA method, asking students to work on their own IQIAA paragraphs with quotations they want to use in their papers.  Now, this tutorial will be embedded in a class blog post, with an optional discussion question asking students to reply to the blog post with their own IQIAA paragraphs. (For the section that covered IQIAA before the switch to distance learning, this tutorial is posted just as a reminder.)

Here is the handout that corresponds with the video.

Download (PDF, 84KB)

Digital Storytelling in Law through Literature

Digital Storytelling Assignment Instructions

Click here to see video tutorials about this assignment

Project 2 instructions // April 2, 2020 (This assignment is worth 25% of your semester grade)

This assignment has three major components:

(1) a podcast that you will script and then record.

What is it? Your podcast script will be at least 900 words long. It will be a creative text in which you interview a character from one of our assigned readings, in an effort to learn more about a specific aspect of their immigration experience. You should anticipate your own research goals here a bit, even though your podcast should not include any research.  However, your research should relate to the immigration issues that you discuss with your character.  For example, if you discuss assimilation with Neni Jonga (from Behold the Dreamers), then your research should be about challenges related to assimilation. Other topics you may consider focusing on include: the perils of escaping an untenable homeland; the immigrant’s responsibility to family left behind; institutionalized racism and discrimination; access to support programs after immigration; access to effective legal counsel; deceptions and appeals of the American dream. You will record your podcast, using a podcast editing tool like Podbean, and then embed it in the digital story you post to our website.

(2) a digital story that uses academic research to explain a specific aspect of immigration to and in the United States.

What is it? Your digital story should explain an immigration-related issue to your reader, using academic research and literary analysis.  Your digital story should be at least 900 words long, and it must include your recorded podcast, a map of the related geographic area, and information from at least two sources you located through the library’s databases. You must include a bibliography.  I would also encourage you to include photos, videos, or other media that would enhance your story. Think of the most impactful stories from The Wall, and try to emulate the strategies that worked for those texts.  [edited 4/2 to add: I’d encourage you NOT to use too many sources. 2 or 3 is just fine.]

(3) a short presentation. [EDIT: I’ve revised the assignment to make the presentation optional]

What is it? You will give a brief presentation to the class in which you outline your research goals, explain which databases you used and how you selected your sources, and how you incorporated that research into your digital story. You can record your presentation as a voice-over in PowerPoint, or use a platform like Screencast-O-Matic.  

This project responds to the multimedia resource The Wall, published by USA Today, with our own, student-generated web site. The purpose of this assignment is to challenge you to conduct research, compose in various media, and connect assigned readings to a relevant contemporary legal issue. You should endeavor to incorporate the digital storytelling techniques we identify in The Wall, and you should rely on your literary analysis skills to predict reasonable ways that a fictional character might respond to specific question. This handout outlines all of your responsibilities. There are a lot of components to this project, so please do your best to stay on top of things. Falling behind early in the process will make it very hard for you to complete this project in time for semester grades to be posted.

4/2: Project assigned and discussed today.

4/14: Idea page for your Podcast Transcript (5 points).  Your podcast will be an audio file, like a radio show, in which you interview any character from any book or story we’ve read this semester, discussing an aspect of their immigration story.  Since nearly all the characters we’ve read about are either fiction or fictionalized, this means that your interview will be a creative endeavor.  You will need to generate questions for the character, and then – in the perspective of the character, and in ways that relate logically to what we know of that character – answer the questions. Your podcast should incorporate at least one quotation from the text.  You should also discuss at least one element of fiction.  Your podcast transcript (the written script for the audio file) should be at least 900 words long. Your idea page, due today, should identify which character you’d like to interview, which topics you’d like to ask them about, and any stylistic or artistic ideas you may have.  I encourage you to be creative with this. Feel free to listen to some podcasts to get a sense of what they sound like, how they’re organized, and how they transition from idea to idea.  One of my favorites is The Sporkful.  It’s about food, and it’s on the podcast app on your iPhone or at

4/21: Project outline due at the start of class (10 points).  This outline won’t look like an outline for a paper, because you’re actually providing me with a timeline for when you plan to work on the various components of this project. Please include the following information:

  1. Whom are you interviewing for your podcast?
  2. What questions will you ask them?
  3. What quotations will you incorporate into your podcast?
  4. Which aspect of the immigration experience will you research?
  5. What are your research goals (what do you want to learn)?
  6. What media will you include in your digital story to help you discuss your researched topic? (e.g., maps, videos, photos of artwork, musical recordings, etc.)
  7. What is your timeline for completing each component of the project? I know when they are due.  I want to know when you plan to complete them. How will you make sure you meet your deadlines?
    • Your podcast transcript?
    • Your recording of your podcast?
    • Your research?
    • A draft of your digital story?
    • The final revisions of your digital story?

4/28: A rough draft (5 points) of your podcast transcript is due by email to Professor Mazumdar by midnight tonight.  I will email peer review sheets and set up peer review groups that can work remotely, likely by email.

5/5: Peer review sheets are due to your partners by midnight tonight (10 points).

5/12: The final draft of your podcast transcript is due by email to Prof. Maz by midnight tonight. This transcript should be at least 900 words long and include at least one quotation. The podcast does NOT have to include any of your research. Your transcript is worth 30 points, and will be evaluated using the rubric included in the syllabus.

Also on 5/12: by midnight tonight, post your Digital Story to our project site (30 points). Your digital story will represent the textual components that accompany the videos we’ve watched on The Wall. To a large degree, much of the information in your podcast will be summarized in your digital story. However, your digital story will provide the researched contexts for the discussion you had with your fictional character.

Your post should include the following components in order to be considered complete:

  1. A link to your recorded podcast on Podbean. You can record the podcast using Podbean, either on your laptop or on your phone. Then, link to the podcast when you’re crafting your digital story in OpenLab. If given the option, select that your link open in a new window.
  2. A compelling news story about your chosen topic. Present your research in a way that provides context and background for the interview you conduct in your podcast. You can use footnotes like this [1] and [2] to provide MLA-formatted citations for the research you use in your digital story.  The link to your podcast should be included strategically; where do you want your reader to hear what your “source” has to say? Aim for around 900 words. Model your digital story on the ones you found compelling from The Wall.
  3. A photo that will represent your digital story on the home page of our web site.
  4. An embedded Google map that displays the geographic region most relevant to your story.
  5. Appropriate tags that will help others navigate our site.

5/14: Presentations due. (10 points) Use a video platform like the one on your phone, Screencast-O-Matic, or the voice-over function on PowerPoint, and tell the class about your research goals, findings, and applications to the class.  Briefly, you will tell us what you wanted to learn through research, which search engines and databases you used to find your research, and how you incorporated your research into your digital story. Presentations will be graded based on preparation as well as clear and professional communication/delivery. I encourage you to practice before sending your presentations. These videos will be posted to our website, so keep in mind that other students will see yours! To submit your video, please email it to Prof. Maz or add it to your digital story on OpenLab. Keep it brief (2-3 minutes)! [EDITED: Due to the stresses of distance learning, I’ve decided to make the presentation an extra credit option, rather than a requirement of the assignment.]

I know that this assignment requires a great deal of techno-savvy.  We will spend time in class discussing topics like using the library’s databases, how to record a podcast, how to compose a digital story, how to embed a map, and how to post your digital story to OpenLab. Through it all, please know this: you have my permission to have fun with this assignment. The academic goals of the assignment are important, but the lessons you learn from it may be more related to the impact it has on you as a real live human person. So take your time with it, and take some chances. And let me know how I can help.

Because this assignment falls due at the end of the semester, and because I have to have enough time to fairly assess all the end-of-term work for all students in all of my classes, I cannot allow for extensions for this project.  Please do a little work every day to keep yourself on schedule.

Reminder about Academic Integrity: Responsible scholarship requires you to submit work that is entirely your own, and that properly cites and acknowledges any source material. Acts of plagiarism will result in a zero (0) for this assignment, and may result in further penalty.

A notice about audience: Please know that this Project Site (our website) will be used for future classes as well, which means your work (and your name) will be visible to future students.  It may also be shared with other City Tech faculty, staff, and students.  In the event that it is shared more widely than that, I will contact you directly by email to obtain your permission to do so.  If you want to opt-out of having your work included on the website after the semester ends, please email me at and tell me  you want to opt-out of the website after grades are posted.

ENG 2180 “Virtual Textbook”

Prof. Laura Westengard

I am sharing a course site that I developed as a  “virtual textbook” for an Open Educational Resources version of the class ENG 2180: Studies in Identity and Orientation. Feel free to visit the site to see how it is designed for all-electronic, zero cost access to literature course materials. Also, it is open and available for anyone to use as a textbook for ENG 2180!

Click on the icon below to visit the site…

Poetry Video Response Assignment

Prof. Leigh Gold

The following low stakes assignment was shared by Leigh Gold and designed for ENG 2003: Introduction to Literature, Poetry

Watch the following two videos posted by The Morgan Library and Museum:

Walt Whitman: Bard of Democracy

After you watch each video, please write down one idea or piece of information that you found most crucial or interesting to know or learn about the poet. (Please be sure to do this with each video)

Choose one quote (lines or line) from ONE Whitman poem and ONE Dickinson poem that we read. Explain what you believe the meaning is of the line or lines that you selected.

Please describe how the idea or biographical information that you learned from the videos helps you to understand the quotations by Dickinson and Whitman. Are there connections that you can make between the videos and poems? How?

Please then explain how discovering more information about each poet helped you to interpret the line or lines that you chose.

Letter Writing Assignment for Character Analysis and Close Reading

Prof. Ruth Garcia


You will need 30-40 minutes to complete this assignment. You will also need the novel. I recommend you type in a document and then copy and paste to OpenLab so that you do not lose your work. I also recommend you use a timer. Also, remember to categorize your post with the category “Tuesday 3/24” or I will not see it.  Finally, please let me know if you have any questions.

  1. Part I—Write for 15-20 minutes: The Color Purple is written a series of letters—this is known as an epistolary novel. You will choose a character in the novel who does not write a letter. Then pretend you are this character and writing a letter addressed to God from their perspective. In your letter, discuss and explain one of this character’s choices or actions in the novel. Use the following format for your post so that I have all the necessary information:

Character Name:

Choice or Action:

The letter:

  1. Part II—Write for 15-20 minutes: Once you are done with your letter, provide some notes to explain your choices. Your notes should point to a few moments the novel that establish the character’s qualities and ways of thinking and behaving. Then explain how these details influenced your choices in the letter. In your notes, quote or paraphrase from the text and include a parenthetical citation/page reference for each.

Theme and Quotation Assignment

Prof. Ruth Garcia


Last time we met in person, we brainstormed a list of themes for Walker’s The Color Purple—these are listed below. For this assignment, review the list of themes and then follow the directions, which are also below. Spend about 20-30 minutes doing this work. And, remember to categorize your work using the category Thursday, 3/26.

Themes from our class:

  • Voice, Racism and Sexism
  • Resistance, Colonization
  • Physical and Mental Abuse
  • Sexual and Domestic Abuse
  • Women’s Friendships (platonic and sexual)
  • Knowledge /Education and Power
  • Relationships and Women’s Spaces


  • Pick a passage from the novel that deals with one of the themes from our list.
  • Then, type out the quotation, give a parenthetical citation/page reference, and respond to these three questions:
  1. What happens? (summarize/paraphrase the quote—here you should give any context that is necessary to help the reader understand why this moment is happening)
  2. What message is Walker conveying? (this is your interpretation of the quote—meaning what you think it is saying about your theme.)
  3. Explain how the passage conveys the message you see there. Point to words, actions, images, tone, etc. (here you are explaining your thinking—how are you reading the word and actions, etc in the passage? And why are you reading it this way.)

Format for your post—please organize your post this way:

  1. Theme:
  2. Quote:
  3. What happens?
  4. What message is Walker conveying?
  5. Explain how the passage conveys the message you see there. Point to words, actions, images, tone, etc.

Guided Literary Analysis/Incorporating Student Contributions

Prof. Lucas Kwong

In this video for ENG 3407 (Gothic Literature and Visual Culture), I recap class discussion of the H.P. Lovecraft story “At The Mountains of Madness” and guide students through how to construct a sample analysis paragraph. The video includes discussion of how to integrate paraphrase + direct quoting with analysis and connection to the main thesis. The video also concludes with a visual framework for moving from close reading, to identifying genre conventions, to commenting on broader cultural and social themes.

This video can be adapted for specific discussion of “At The Mountains of Madness,” or used as the basis for an in-class discussion of how to structure literary analysis in a single paragraph.