Final Project Update

The goal of this activity is to teach college undergraduates how to read the historiographical context of a source and how to use that context to better understand the arguments presented in the source. For this particular activity I will use the book Converging on Cannibals by Jared Staller. In this book Staller examines how a central African community identified as the Imbangala or Jagga came to be identified as cannibals in early Portuguese sources and how the “myth” persisted until modern times. The focus of this book is precisely to re-examine sources that have been part of the historiographical conversation since the 1960s when historians first started to examine the history of the Imbangala first through Portuguese written sources, then African oral sources and now through a re-examination of the Portuguese sources.

The activity will present students with an annotated version of the Introduction that will help students identify the different elements of a book introduction. That is, where and how historians speak of historiography, how it is framed and described, and how does it allow them to introduce new questions.

This past week I worked on deciding which annotation platform I wanted to use. I tried Annotation Studio, but it was not very easy to use and it is not easily integrated with Canvas. Then I tried Hypothesis. This was a bit tricky at first, I had to use the OCR tool they provide, since I am working with scanned pages from the original book. In the end I was able to get a good enough copy and successfully load it into the assignment.

What is left now is to annotate the Introduction and figure out what is the best way of presenting it to students. I am trying to decide if a tutorial composed of screenshots will be good enough. But I may try a short video presentation that will allow me not only to highlight the annotation of the introduction, but also the way to use Hypothesis so that students can then do their own annotation of the first chapter.

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