Homework Assignments Utilizing The Dickens Web

These assignments came early in the semester and were designed to provide students with practice in the mechanics of using The Dickens Web and in thinking hypertextually about the relationship between Great Expectations and the information contained in The Dickens Web. In the first assignment, students are asked to follow existing links in the Web; in the second, they are asked to construct and justify their own links. While they generally did a good job at selecting textual passages that bore some relationship to specified material in the Web, they had difficulty explaining how the information in the Web influenced their interpretation or understanding of the passages from the novel, and their difficulties increased as the links became less obvious and direct.

For Navigating in The Dickens Web and Thinking Hypertextually:

This assignment slightly modifies one in The Dickens Web. From the Map View of The Dickens Web, open the text space of the "Great Expectations Overview." Do some exploring of the Web. Describe (i.e. identify the writing spaces involved) a series of at least three links to that you found helpful to your understanding of the novel and explain why.

Next, return to the Map View of the Web, open the writing space "History," and explore the materials contained in the text and writing spaces of "Public Health" and "Race and Class." Selecting a passage of one or two paragraphs from Great Expectations that these discussions illuminate, explain the relation between one or more of the contextual materials and the passage from Dickens.

Next, look at the essay on "Realism" under "Genre and Mode." What do the discussions of public health and race and class tell us about the degree to which Dickens cast the novel in the style of realism? Choose one passage from the novel that appears to embody realism and one that does not and in a paragraph or two explain your judgment of these passages.

For Constructing Links and Thinking Hypertextually:

Open The Dickens Web. Go into the "Religion" writing space, then into the "Religion Overview" text space. The "Religion Overview" contains a listing of various religious groups, figures, etc. Most of these listings are linked to text spaces that provide further information; explore these materials. Create two basic links between the "Religion Overview" writing space and two different writing spaces elsewhere in The Dickens Web. Create one text link between a word or phrase in one of the text spaces within the "Religion Overview" and a word or phrase in another text space somewhere else in the Web.

Send me an e-mail message in which you:

  1. Describe the two basic links you have created (i.e., state what the destination writing spaces are).

  2. Explain why you created them (i.e., tell why you see the two writing spaces and the materials in them as linked).

  3. Explain how this link has deepened or changed your understanding of Great Expectations (or, how a future reader of the Web would benefit from following your link).

  4. Describe the text link you have created (i.e., what word or phrase in what text space within the "Religion Overview" has been connected to what word or phrase in what text space/writing space elsewhere in the Web?).

  5. Explain how this link has deepened or changed your understanding of Great Expectations (or, how a future reader of the Web would benefit from following your link).