Thalia's Daughters

A weblog for English 6365: Women Onstage in the Long Eighteenth Century, at UNB.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Biographical Assignment/Presentation

Biographical Assignment (20%): due Oct. 16th
Presentation (20%): due throughout term

Most of you are aware of Wikipedia. Your assignment is to choose one of our playwrights and
i) write/edit/emend the Wikipedia entry on her, and
ii) present material about her and her play to the class on the day scheduled to discuss her work.

Biographical Assignment

Here are the writers with links are to their Wikipedia entries, where they exist. Some of these articles are full and some are "stubs" in need of expansion.

Margaret Cavendish
Aphra Behn
Mary Pix (stub)
Catherine Trotter (stub)
Susanna Centlivre
Eliza Haywood
Elizabeth Griffith
Hannah Cowley (stub)
Joanna Baillie (stub)
Frances Burney

This assignment will be completed in several phases. First, I would like to see your proposed material/emendations, along with a rationale and bibliography. At that point I will either give you a green light or further suggestions; once your proposal is finished to both our satisfactions, you (or a technophilic proxy) will post your material and/or emendations online, for the world to see.

Obviously there are strictures to what you can write, and to how you write; you need to follow Wikipedia policies and guidelines. You may address any issues (for example, material that you might post if you had your druthers, but which you cannot given the policies) in your proposal.

Wikipedia links:
Guidelines, help, and resources
Help Menu
Policies and guidelines

Further reading:
"Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past" by Roy Rosenzweig, Center for History and New Media [excellent article on strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia].

"Know it All: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" by Stacy Schiff in the New Yorker [somewhat hair-raising].

"Can you trust Wikipedia?" in The Guardian, Monday October 24, 2005 [a panel of experts evaluate entries in their fields]

Check some of the items in the bibliography to this document.


You will introduce the group to your chosen playwright on the day we are scheduled to discuss her work. You will allude to her biography as it pertains to her writing and our assigned play in particular; you will pay attention to her critical reputation, during her lifetime and since; and you will discuss anything of interest in your work on your Wikipedia entry.

You will then introduce us to the play, filling in any pertinent background information we may not have, and outlining how it might be of interest to us in the context of the course.

You may also allude to the critical article(s) I have assigned. It is assumed that these articles will frame part of our wider discussion of each play so presenters can address them as much or as little as seems appropriate.


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