Thesis Proposal

Applied Instructional Technology in the Discipline of English: Creating Open Educational Resources for Students and Teachers of American Romanticism

Over the last decade, the use of digital and new media technologies in classrooms and research situations has increased dramatically. This trend, however, is likely to increase as open educational resources become more available and credible and digital scholarship gains more traction among university level scholars and secondary educators. As a result of these changes, I would like to propose an original thesis project that incorporates elements of traditional scholarship in English and emerging and established technologies in the Digital Humanities, all with the goal of deploying this educational resource to a larger community of teachers and students. The product of this project will consist of a Beta version of an open educational resources web site, <>, and a seventy page monograph. The monograph will contain a justification for the project itself from an educational and technological perspective using recent NCTE policy studies on digital literacies and recent changes to Virginia SOL testing, an annotated list of existing digital resources and multimedia on American Romanticism which will also appear in a hyperlinked addition on the Beta site, and a theoretical discussion of the editorial methods for selecting authors and texts and preparing digital editions and other original multimedia. In addition, the written portion will also contain a strategic plan for the growth of the project, to include defined sources of possible grant funding and strategies for marketing the site to participants, and edited and original site content in appendices.

In addition to the theoretical and educational implications of this project that will be addressed in the written portion, this proposed initiative will produce an original online resource that can be used in public schools and will be aligned to the Virginia Standards of Learning. The Beta version of the site itself will be organized using the several stringent content production requirements. The site content will include biographical and contextual information on four American Romantic authors (tentatively Whitman, Dickinson, Thoreau, and Poe) presented in both textual and multimedia formats, two edited digital primary texts from each author that will be annotated using hypertext, and multimedia editions of selected texts. In addition, to make the site more applicable to secondary educators, the site will include interactive digital lesson plans, which will be aligned to the Virginia SOLs, for each author that incorporate original site content and digital resources from other initiatives in the digital humanities, and a collection of digital resources for students and teachers of American Romanticism that will be annotated based on their applications to secondary classrooms. Although this thesis project differs from traditional research in English, the theoretical and educational skills that will be engaged in this process are interdisciplinary in nature and in high demand at all levels of academia. In conclusion, the goal of this thesis is to create a resource that will enable those interested in the American Romantic period to teach and learn more effectively by having access to free resources that engage learners using technology and contextualize the contemporary study of literature.

Recent Posts

Art Examination: The Course of Empire, 1 of 5, by Thomas Cole 1836

Thomas Cole- The course of empire-the savage state 1836

Thomas Cole- The Course of Empire-The Savage State 1836


This post is the first in a series examining the painting of Romantic artist Thomas Cole. We will examine Cole’s paintings as both cultural artifacts and artistic works. To begin the series, this first post will address the first painting in Cole’s The Course of Empire collection, The Savage State.

The Savage State depicts an idyllic life style of natural origin. When you look at the landscape, the human figures on the rock in the foreground are almost indistinguishable from their natural environment. Likewise, the figures also appear partially clothed. Throughout literature and art, a human’s clothes have represented the one fact that makes man separate from animals (Ex. Gulliver’s Travels) . By depicting the human figures on such a small scale, Cole is able to highlight the low environmental impact of early civilizations.

The clouds in the picture that appear to be clearing are perhaps an ironic play on the notion that the New World was ever really discovered. While the light from the left side of the painting appears to reveal the indigenous population, Cole’s The Course of Empire series quickly demonstrates the corruptive powers of civilization in its later installments. However, the paintings composition date of 1836 alignes with an era of heightened action  against Native American tribes in the U.S., including the Indian Removal Act (1830) and the Treaty of Washington (1836).

What Do You Think?

How does Thomas Cole’s The Savage State represent the Romantic ideal or the cultural realities of the United States during the 1830’s?

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