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Model Assignments

Consider a few of the strategies used by fellow faculty.

Model Assignments to Reduce Plagiarism

The following assignments offer useful models for planning, developing, and implementing course strategies to reduce the occasion of plagiarism. Many of these assignments utilize primary sources or require students to create their own projects; assignments may also state that students must use only recent sources, and may often include a detailed process of staggered deadlines to prevent the end-of-the-semester plagiarism by procrastinators. This interdisciplinary range covers the following topics:

Ben Wright (Religion Studies) and Ann Priester (Art History, Art & Architecture):

Working with Illuminated Manuscripts

In the Special Collections of Lehigh’s library are a number of late 14th-16th century Books of Hours or prayerbooks. During the course of the semester you will be assigned to a group and each group will be examining and analyzing an entire Book of Hours or a portion of one. These books, as you will see, are often rich in illustrations that connect with the text of the scriptural readings or the prayers to be said. In a separate document we will give you the basic guidelines for the project and we will discuss it in greater detail as the semester progresses.

Project assignment.

Each group should write a paper analyzing the images of their Book of Hours in the context of the book.

Format of your group paper (Due Dec. 2):

  1. Physical Description of book.
    1. Size
    2. Script
    3. Size & decoration of margins
    4. How initial letters are decorated
  2. Text and miniatures (pictures)
    1. A catalogue of the texts & accompanying miniatures
      1. What is the subject matter of the miniatures accompanying each section of text?
    2. An analysis of each of the major miniatures in your book (similar to what you did in your first set of papers)
      1. Describe the miniature:
        1. Figures
        2. Setting
        3. What is happening
      2. Identify the textual sources relevant to each miniature
      3. Discuss how the artist uses (or perhaps ignores) the textual sources
        1. What elements in the picture can be explained by which text, which elements in the picture cannot be explained by the text, which parts of the text does the artist not use?
      4. Discuss the stylistic characteristics of the miniatures.
        1. Are they all by the same artist?
        2. In comparing your Book of Hours with others you see in your reading and from the Book of Hours links (under External Links), can you venture an approximate date and place of origin for your book?

Format of in-class presentation:

We will be looking at the same sections of text and their illustrations for all the Books of Hours together, according to the schedule below:

Nov. 18. Calendars, Gospel lessons, Prayers to the BVM

Nov. 23. Office of the BVM

Nov. 30 Penitential Psalms, Hours of HS, Hours of Cross, Office of Dead

Be able to talk about and answer questions about your miniatures.

Given that in any one class, there may be a lot of images to look at, you should NOT prepare a long presentation, but be prepared to point out any unusual features and answer any questions that might come up. In addition to being able to talk about your miniatures, each group will be responsible for a 5-minute explanation of one of the standard sections of text.

Group 1: Calendars

Group 2: Gospel lessons

Group 3: Obsecro te & o intemerata

Group 4: Office of the Virgin

Group 5: Penitential Psalms

Group 6: Hours of the Holy Spirit

Group 7: Hours of the Cross

Group 8: Office of the Dead

Barbara Traister (English):

Editing a World War I Surgeon's Diary

With the goals of helping Senior English majors practice some of the skills they had learned during their major courses and having them experience first-hand the steps necessary to turn a manuscript text into a print-published text, I chose a manuscript from Special Collections. It was a diary written by a surgeon, a Lehigh alumnus and eventual trustee, who volunteered to go to the battlefields of France during World War I. Six notebooks are filled with entries recording his day-to-day experiences for nearly ten months. The students deciphered, transcribed, and annotated this diary, establishing sets of rules and conventions about spelling, abbreviations, and acronyms which would make the work of ten people compatible. They wrote an introduction to the diary containing biographical information about its author, background information about the medicine practiced during WWI, and an overview of Dr. William Estes' experience. They created a medical glossary for the volume and wrote explanatory footnotes for difficult passages. Each student contributed particular skills and knowledge which helped the project, from the pre-med student who led the work on the medical glossary to the student who managed to combine the ten separate computer files into one consecutive text. As a final step, the students wrote a letter of inquiry to the Lehigh University Press, asking whether the manuscript might be appropriate for publication by the press.

Gary DeLeo (Physics) and Alex Levine (Philosophy):

Copernicus: The Problem of the Planets
(online syllabus in PDF)

Group Project Topics

All group projects minimally require 1) an oral presentation, in which all group members participate; and 2) a written exegesis of results, illustrated where appropriate, suitable for posting to the web.

Group 1. Present a close reading of Book I of Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, with emphasis on the importance of passages marked with marginalia in Lehigh’s first edition. Explain the rhetorical and scientific function of Book I in historical context. Decipher the marginalia. What do they reveal about their author? What do they reveal about the contemporary reception of Copernicus’s work?

Group 2. Using the figures and explanations in Tycho Brahe’s Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica, build a Tychonian sextant. Explain the differences between Tycho’s astronomical sextant and a sixteenth century navigational sextant. Record observations in a manner similar to that of Tycho Brahe for several stellar and planetary bodies over several weeks. Show that these observations can be understood in the context of the Copernican model.

Group 3. Determine the approximate technical specifications of a Galilean refracting telescope. Describe the operation and characteristics of the various types of reflecting telescopes, and the history of their development. Build a Newtonian reflector, using the closest possible approximations to seventeenth century materials. Using ray-tracing methods, describe the characteristics of this reflector, including magnification, light-gathering power, and resolving power. Using your telescope, perform observations of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, sufficient to sketch rough plots of their orbits

Group 4. Describe the historical use of sundials in the study of celestial motion. Identify an outside object on the Lehigh campus that may be used as the gnomon of a sundial. Carefully record the gnomon’s shadow over several weeks, and use this to describe the apparent motion of the sun, particularly in the context of seasons. Construct equivalent gnomons for each member of your group, and compare observations made at different locations when traveling.

Group 5. Construct an optical device that would produce a projected image of the sun with suitable resolution to observe sunspots. Track the positions of sunspots over several weeks, and use this information to describe the rotation of the sun and the motion of the Earth about the sun (in the spirit of Galileo’s observations and interpretations). Discuss the observations made by Galileo.

Group 6. Work out the mathematics required to convert the orbital positions of several planets (including Earth) into local altitude and azimuth coordinates as viewed from any position on Earth at any time and date. Construct a computer program that will perform these geometrical calculations.

Group 7. Examine the economic and institutional (e.g., religious and political) environments of Copernicus and Galileo. Describe in detail how these conditions affected the technical methods used and the thought processes applied in their studies. Describe in detail how these conditions affected the dissemination and acceptance of their observations and conclusions.

Group 8. Discuss the history of time-keeping methods (science of chronology), including the various calendars used in the past, and in use today. Discuss the compatibility of celestial and non-celestial time keeping methods. Consider various ancient and modern structures around the world that are or were used to keep track of the passage of time (e.g., Stonehenge). Describe modern methods of recording the times of events as used by astronomers.

Group 9. Examine the history of studies relating to the apparent motion of the moon, including position in the sky, phases, librational motions, and tidal effects on the Earth. Describe how these observations were explained in the context of pre-Copernican and Copernican models of the solar system. Discuss details that remained unexplained until more recent times (twentieth century), and the explanations in terms of modern physical principles

Group 10. Discuss the relation between celestial observations and the determination of terrestrial position in the seventeenth-century context. Consider problems of both land and sea navigation. To what degree, and in what contexts are ancient and early modern methods still in use?

Navigating Information at Lehigh

Representing Naval Engineering, this is one of 24 medallions for academic disciplines in the Reading Room of Lehigh's Linderman Library. Photograph by Steven Lichak.

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