This session addresses the opportunities and challenges posed by digital projects as final, collaborative assignments by examining “The Swinging Bridge, Ramabai Espinet,” a digital reference and teaching guide to Ramabai Espinet’s novel The Swinging Bridge produced by Kayli Smendec, Berta Gonzalez, and Christine Csencsitz. This project was begun by four groups of students as part of LIT 4192 “Migration, Money, and the Making of Modern Caribbean Literature” (Spring 2014) and then completed by Smendec, Csenscitz, and Gonzalez as an undergraduate research project the following semester. They combined the original collaborative projects, revising and adding to their colleagues’ work to produce a website that functions as a reference guide to The Swinging Bridge. The project contains a map of key locations, a glossary of historical and cultural references, short essays on key themes, a list of key passages organized thematically, and an annotated bibliography. Their digital project constitutes a unique resource for the novel as there now exist only biographical information and specialized scholarly articles. The project has particular value because it addresses the work of an Indo-Caribbean woman author, who represents a new and often overlooked literary tradition that needs a scholarly infrastructure, in order to retain and increase the presence of that tradition in scholarship and curricula. In other words, this body of work is at risk of going out of print and disappearing from circulation unless a significant body of criticism remains available — open access. The goal is to make the project available through the open access Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com) and thus to help students and instructors and at the same time help to build the infrastructure necessary to assure the presence of the novel in future scholarship and curricula. Berta Gonzalez, Kayli Smendec, and Leah Rosenberg will discuss the objectives and challenges of creating such digital projects as class assignments from students’ perspectives from that of the instructor.
Leah Rosenberg, Kayli Smendec, and Berta Gonzalez