Digitizing Folk Music History: Guidelines – Digital Project and Final Essays

Below are the guidelines and rubrics for the final projects in my Digitizing Folk Music History: The Berkeley Folk Festival course. Comments and suggestions for improvement welcome!


Interpretive Digital History Project. 30% of final grade. Due 6/8.


Your final digital project must develop a convincing and compelling interpretation grounded in, but not necessarily exclusively focused on, materials in the Berkeley Folk Festival archive. A successful project will address specific arguments in the existing historiography of the American folk music revival and related topics based on the secondary materials we have explored. It will do so by demonstrating how new primary evidence relates to this extant literature. The project will also explore inventive and creative uses of digital technologies, tools, designs, and capabilities to further the interpretive stakes of the project. At minimum, the project will do so in theory, but all projects must show evidence of at least an attempt at implementation of digital dimensions to the research project.


1. Interpretation 25%

· What is the interpretation?

· Is the interpretation clearly, precisely, and evocatively conveyed?

2. Use of evidence 25%

· Is the evidence from the Berkeley Folk Festival archive linked to the interpretation effectively and precisely?

· Does the project deepen a reader’s understanding of the evidence from the archive?

· Does the project effectively draw upon additional primary sources?

3. Use of secondary material 25%

· Does the project effectively and compellingly link its interpretation and evidence to secondary materials?

· Does it explain existing interpretations cogently?

· Does it demonstrate clearly what is important about its intervention in the existing questions, debates, and dilemmas of scholarly understanding?

4. Use of the digital 25%

· Does the project make innovative use of digital tools, capacities, technologies, and design to communicate its interpretation?

· Does it do so conceptually?

· Was the project able to implement this technology effectively?

FINAL ESSAY. 20% of final grade. Due 6/8.


Your final analytic essay should be 5-6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font size, standard margins. It should consist of a “hook” introduction (a vignette or brief explanation to grab a readers attention) followed by a fully-developed thesis statement. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, and link its evidence precisely to the claims or subpoints being made. Paragraphs should end with a transition sentence that leads clearly to the next paragraph. Your essay should end with a conclusion that summarizes and effectively extends the argument put forward.

The essay should contain compelling explanations of:

· What the interpretation in your digital history project is.

· What primary evidence you draw upon from the Berkeley Folk Festival and elsewhere.

· How that evidence links to your interpretation.

· Why your interpretation is significant in relation to the larger relevant secondary literature.

· How your use of the digital offered deeper insights into the historical materials, interpretation, and secondary literature.


1. Interpretation 30%

· Is the interpretation compelling and convincing?

2. Use of evidence 15%

· Does the essay draw upon relevant evidence from the Berkeley Folk Festival archive?

· Does the essay draw effectively upon evidence from elsewhere?

· Does the essay show how this evidence relates to its interpretation effectively?

3. Use of secondary literature 15%

· Does the essay make a convincing and precisely articulated intervention in the existing secondary literature on a specific aspect of the folk music revival or related topic?

4. Connections to the Digital 15%

· Does the essay explain its use of digital tools, technology, design, or capabilities effectively?

· Does the essay show how its use of the digital effectively probes the evidence?

· Does the essay show how its use of the digital deepens its interpretation?

5. Communication 25%

· Does the essay clearly and precisely explain its thesis, using vivid and accurate language?

· Does the essay convincingly link evidence to interpretation?

· Does the essay compellingly and precisely show how its interpretation relates to the existing secondary literature?

· Does the essay compellingly explain its use of the digital in relation to the evidence, interpretation, and secondary literature?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *