Creative Projects (Unessays) Spring 2023

In my upper-level survey and seminar classes, I assign students a final project with a lot of self-direction. They get to choose whether to work solo or in a small group (2-4 students). They get to choose whether to write a paper, whether to connect the current course to their overall course of study, or whether to do a creative “unessay” project. Finally, they get to choose whether their project will be publicly available or only submitted to me.

Every semester I am impressed by my students’ creativity and their insightful engagement with our course material. This semester posed additional challenges as access to many of the platforms and tools students have used in the past (Twitter, Instagram, etc) are currently restricted inside the Russian Federation. This group of students found new tools and new ways to use familiar tools.

This semester’s creative projects included original creative work, a comic adaptation, a ‘zine, a travelogue, and several websites.

  1. Here is an adaptation of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities in the form of travel guide:
  2. This ‘zine also presents images inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities:
  3. This website presents analysis of the Russian book market with a focus on the fantastic genre, broadly construed, and making use of both quantitative and qualitative analytical tools:
  4. This website is a comprehensive readers’ guide to Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Complete Trilogy:
  5. This Prezi offers readers an annotated map to Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Complete Trilogy:
  6. Based on your entertainment preferences, this website offers recommendations of particular episodes of the series Love, Death, & Robots as well as suggestions of places and activities within Moscow :
    Users can also connect with others through the related VK page:
  7. This website is an introductory readers’ guide to the Arabian Nights:

For those colleagues who may want to include a similar project in their classes, here’s my current prompt for the creative project: 

Develop a webpage, board game, video, piece of art, short story, film, or other creative work related to the content of this course. It may focus on one or a group of texts on the syllabus. Alternatively, the creative project may focus more broadly on the literary or cultural concepts we discuss. You will be required to participate in the drafting and revision process, so your Project Proposal will need to include a plan for what you will submit on the draft deadlines. Method of submission will be specific to the type of project.  You will also write a reflection on the project.

This may be a group project. Maximum group size is 4 students. Groups should include a plan for division of labor in the project proposal.

Past examples of projects in response to this prompt can be found here: Marymount Students 2018-2020, NES Students 2022

Your project should be significant and polished. We are giving four weeks of our class time to this, so that is approximately 30 working hours from each student.