INSTRUCTIONS FOR STUDENTS (IN COMPUTER LAB 50 MINUTES)
“DIGGING IN THE DIGITAL ARCHIVES: ABEL THOMAS GOSPEL OF SLAVERY”
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For today’s Digital Humanities Lab assignment, you will be working directly with the pages of the 1864 children’s book, The Gospel of Slavery.
You should begin by reading the entire book quickly through. Then each of you will take one page to work with, answering these questions (we’ll select by going around the room so no one has the same letter).
Work through the questions in MS Word, and then cut and paste your answers into your BLOG page in Blogger. (This is the blog page/URL that you posted in our first lab.) Post your URL in Moodle so that everyone in the class can find your work and also so you can get a grade.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
- What letter/page are you working with?
Describe the picture at the top of the page in detail: describe the action and the actors. Who is at the center or figures most prominently? What purpose does this serve?
- LEARNING LETTERS:
This is a primer, i.e., an elementary textbook for teaching children to read. Beginning with the letter itself and what is “stands for” in this book, summarize the major “lesson” being taught on your page. How does the rhyming scheme support the message?
- DUAL MESSAGE AND AUDIENCE:
Notice that there are two parts to “read” on each page beyond the picture itself: a rhyming section and a commentary beneath it. Do these sections have different audiences do you think? Who are they?
- WHAT IS THE STORY OF THIS LETTER/PAGE?
Think about all three sections of your page now. What is the abolitionist story that is being told here? Is there more than one?
- EQUIANO, ABOLITION AND THE GOSPEL OF SLAVERY
How does this text fit within our study so far of Equiano’s narrative and of the history of slavery in the U.S.? What does it suggest to you about abolitionists during the Civil War? What is unsettling to you about the genre of primer as an abolitionist work?
- WHAT LIES BEYOND THIS ONE BOOK?
What kinds of questions would you like answered about this book? What perplexes or puzzles you? How might you find answers to your questions? Who is “Iron Gray” and why is he on the title page? Speculate on Thomas’s use of this name.
- DON’T FORGET TO CITE YOUR SOURCE PROPERLY
Before you complete your blog post, be sure to include the primary source information. In your blog, you can begin by creating a link directly to the page. But you should also include the complete citation information at the bottom of the page. Title of the Book, Author of the Book, Title of the Collection, Where the Collection is Housed (click on “Home” for most archives), [you don’t need to include the URL for MLA citation style, but you might want to keep it handy for your own future use], then include Web and date accessed.
HT to Rebecca Onion in Slate for sharing her discovery of this text.