While I realize that I am an English teacher nerd, I truly enjoyed this project. Perhaps it says something about my hubris before I began that I didn't expect to learn anything new—I thought I was making it as a model for my students. I was wrong. I am happy to report that I learned a great deal, and I am proud of the resulting project—prouder than I thought I would be.
I think my favorite part of the project now that it's complete is the letter I wrote from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. I enjoyed writing it very much, and it was a fun challenge to try to write in someone else's voice. I think Jane Austen has an infectious voice as a writer. I find myself talking and writing like her for weeks after finishing one of her novels. She's also quite funny, and I enjoyed slipping in some humor (some of it at her expense). I do think the result sounds a great deal like Jane Austen. I also had a great deal of fun creating the heroine trading cards. I spent hours creating them in one afternoon and evening. I actually forgot to eat. My children and husband were grumbling and unhappy with me. I was frustrated to discover later that they had some inconsistencies—I'm probably the only one who would notice—but the way I saved the images makes it impossible to fix them without starting over fresh, and I decided the problem really wasn't that big (now if it had been a factual or spelling error, I'd change them).
One aspect of the project that was frustrating was creating the Glog with images from pop culture. At one point I had finished it and I don't know what I did, but I somehow lost it. I hadn't saved the work, so it was just gone, and I had to start over. Honestly the second version was much better than the first. Maybe my anger and frustration fueled my creativity. Working with Google Sites was a new experience for me, so I had to wade through some of the intricacies of how it works, but I figured it out in the end. This site is the second draft of an earlier site that I deleted because I couldn't figure out how to change the template. I didn't know how to cite a Facebook application, and I doubt MLA has that one covered, so I had to use my ingenuity on the citation for some images I used from that application. One frustration I feel a lot as an English teacher who uses technology is the slowness of MLA and other style organizations in keeping up with the changes for citation.
One of my best sources of information was a book called Jane Austen by John Lauber, which I found in our school's library. It was an interesting book. What particularly struck me was Lauber's conclusion that Jane Austen would not influence modern writers much. I immediately double-checked the publication date because I thought he had to be insane. Then I realized it was published two years before the famed 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Lauber supplied me with my angle: Jane Austen's impact on modern pop culture. Aside from that book, it was a pleasure to dip into some of my favorite Jane Austen websites for information, and the UK newspapers were also a great resource for me.
I chose not to take note cards for this assignment, which is how I have written traditional research papers in the past. It worked for me, but it might not work for others. I kept my online resources open in other tabs and kept the Lauber book open as I wrote so I could check quotes, pages, and links. I created my Works Cited page as I worked so I could keep up with all the images and information I borrowed. One major way this paper is different from others I've written is that more of my resources were online. I think the nature of the topic lent itself to using online resources more than print ones. The changing nature of the web and the angle I took for my topic made online resources in general more helpful than they might be in a traditional research paper.
In all, I enjoyed the project very much, especially incorporating the multimedia I used, and I hope it will be helpful for students in creating their own multigenre research projects. I want to run right out and read some Jane Austen books and watch some film adaptations!