Writing Assignment #1: Annotating a Text

Annotating “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” or Philosophy of Mind

Fragment of text with pencil annotations.Textual annotations are notes in the margins of a text (they’re also called marginalia). They serve many functions, depending upon their context. They can be exegetical, drawing out meanings and interpretations from a passage or even an individual word. They can be focused on a book’s history, noting variations that occur in different editions. They can be generated from a reader’s own idiosyncratic response to a text—for example, quotations and passages from the text the reader wishes to collect and remember, and put in dialogue with one another.

Given that there’s a lot happening on any single page of the reading these first few weeks, it’s an ideal opportunity for marginalia. This investigation asks you to make massive notes on a two-page spread of one text and then make sense of what you’ve noted. 

  1. First, pick a single two-page spread from either The Lifecycle of Software Objects or Philosophy of Mind and heavily annotate it. Base your selection on some meaty part of the reading, or a part that confuses you or you have questions about. Then print the two-page spread, and make your notes by hand on the printed copy. Your annotations should not be guided by an overarching argument. Rather, annotate the page in a kind of free association way, commenting upon words, passages, patterns, and references in any way you are compelled to do so. I encourage you to research unfamiliar names, places, vocabulary, or phrases that appear in the text, and to annotate these as well.
  2. Now make a second layer of annotations—about your own annotations. This is informal commentary about your own annotations, and ideas that didn’t occur to you during the initial process of annotation. Use a different color ink than what you used for step #1.
  3. Finally, compose a 500-word (ish) reflection about your annotations and commentary. What did such intense scrutiny of a single pair of pages of text reveal? Was there a pattern to what you annotated? How does the material you annotated contribute to your understanding of the text, or even complicate your understanding of the overall themes of the novella or insights in the Kind reading?

What to Submit

You’ll submit 3 documents to Moodle in order to complete this assignment:

  1. A clear and legible photo or scan of the annotations
  2. A clear and legible photo or scan of the second layer of annotations (these might be combined with #1)
  3. A PDF of your 500-word reflection

A full and complete version of the project is due by 5pm on Friday, September 15. A final, revised version is due by 5pm on Friday, September 29.

Submission Guidelines

When you submit:

  • The reflection must be in PDF format
  • Do not include a cover page or title page
  • On first page of reflection include this a header that looks like this:
    Your Name
    Humes 103
    Professor Name
    The Date
  • Double space the text
  • Use 1″ margins all around
  • Include page numbers
  • Use a standard 11- or 12-point serif font, like Times Roman, Palatino, etc.
  • Spellcheck and proof your work
  • Use MLA to cite your source(s). This link to the Purdue Owl has a good guide/refresher.
  • Pledge your work