Project Assignment 4: Artifacts, Layers, Traces, and Trends
Guide to Architectural Styles (PDF - 3.0MB)
This is the fourth assignment in a four-part, semester-long project. The task of the third assignment was to trace changes on your site over time using old maps, plans, prints, and photographs. Now the objective is to find traces of these changes present in the current environment and to interpret their significance. Many of you were attracted to your site because of some anomalous features that puzzled you and made you wonder why they were there and what had caused them to be. This is an opportunity to explore some answers to such puzzles.
Take a walk through your site looking for clues to the past and to what the future may hold. You will find it helpful to refer to the old maps you analyzed for the third assignment (and old prints and photographs if you have them). Walk through the site several times, once for each period for which you have a map, and compare the site today with what it was like at the time depicted on the map. This will be easier than trying to compare three or four maps from different time periods all at once. Look also for traces of past populations. Make notes on what you see. What different kinds of traces can you find and what period of the site's history do they belong to? Do they relate to one another in any way? Describe the traces you think are most important or interesting. What do they reveal about the past and the present? Why did they survive? Are they still fulfilling some original purpose? Do they reveal anything about the present and / or future? What additional clues can you find in the present that hint at potential trends for the future?
Describe what you have found. The paper should be about 2400 words, accompanied by illustrations (don't forget to include links to the maps from the third assignment). Focus on what seems most significant or interesting to you. Look for patterns. Don't try to mention every trace of the past you find or every clue to a trend. This paper brings together the sum of your knowledge and observations about your site, and it will draw on your historical, topographical, and environmental knowledge of it. The objective of this assignment is to give you an appreciation for how past owners, functions, events, and ways of life have left traces on your site and, based on this understanding, to give you the opportunity to speculate on how the site may develop in the future.
Illustrate some of the artifacts, layers, traces, and trends that you found. These illustrations may include old maps, photographs, and prints, but should also include some drawings or photographs of what you saw and found significant. Do not feel intimidated if you doubt your artistic skills. The object is to record what you see and highlight what is significant about it. The illustrations will be graded on quality of content; your grade will not be reduced for lack of artistic skill. Illustrations are another way of recording and thinking about your observations. Organize the illustrations and present them neatly. Be selective: Quality is more important than quantity. Do not use dozens of photographs, hoping a few will hit the mark.
Successful papers are well organized, cite specific examples to make each point, put examples in context, and are illustrated. In organizing your paper, focus on the artifacts, layers, traces, and trends that you found, the important issues they raise, and patterns they illustrate; consider using subheadings to highlight your key points. Choose your examples carefully. They should illustrate the issues and patterns you identified as important in your site. Illustrations should be apt and clearly linked to your reasoning. Include a map identifying the boundaries of your site. Do not forget to cite the source of each illustration.
- Describe and analyze artifacts, traces, and layers (if present) from various time periods observed on your site and on historic maps. Describe and analyze signs that portend potential trends on your site.
- Include photographs, drawings, and / or maps to document what you discovered. Delineate your site boundaries on all maps.
- Refer to the required reading to test, substantiate, or revise your hypotheses about the significance of the artifacts, traces, layers, and trends you observed. Your essay should explain how the concepts presented in the reading help to explain your observations.
- Present a thesis about the significance of the traces and trends you observed and what they reveal about your site.
- Cite all sources, including maps, fully and properly.
- The paper should be about 2400 words (approximately eight pages, typed double-spaced), accompanied by illustrations. This paper is due by class 21.
Orienting Yourself to the Assignment
Many of you were attracted to your site because of some anomalous features that puzzled you and made you wonder why they were there and what had caused them to be. This is an opportunity to explore some answers to such puzzles. Keep in mind that this assignment requires two sorts of reflection, the first, from what you know so far, and the second, from observing the site for visual traces of the layers of knowledge you've acquired about your site.
Plan for Site Visits with Maps
You'll want to make more than one site visit: First to track the current site against each period for which you have a map; second, to revisit the site a day or two later to observe further. Start by taking a succession of walks through the site with each map of a particular time (in chronological order). Then identify places where there are interesting juxtapositions of multiple time periods and make a series of stops to compare those locations during successive periods, using the method that we employed on the field trip. In other words, plan to walk the site several times, once for each map (in order to discern layers or strata related to a particular period) and once to compare all time periods.
Keep in mind that you're likely to encounter artifacts of individual moments in time, but also layers of artifacts or traces that might very well serve as the embodiment of or as an emblem of the changes to the site over time.
Record field notes for each site walk / map walk (and consider using your notes as the basis for your journal).
Questions to Ask
- What different kinds of artifacts and traces can you find and what period of the site's history do they belong to?
- Do they relate to one another in any way?
- Which artifacts and traces do you think are most important or interesting, and why? Describe them in your field notes and document with photographs.
- What do you think these artifacts and traces reveal about the past and the present?
- Why did they survive?
- Are they still fulfilling some original purpose (or have they been entirely adapted to new uses)?
- Do they reveal anything about the present and / or future?
- What additional clues can you find in the present that hint at potential trends for the future?
Documenting Your Discoveries
- You must gather visual evidence from the site in the form of your own photographs or drawings of visual artifacts and traces of the past that you observe on your site and noting how they relate to the history of the site and / or to its possible future.
- Consider your visual evidence with a curatorial eye—be selective and make conscious choices about your illustrations (quality is more important than quantity). Consider how the visual is a vehicle for highlighting what you think are significant artifacts, traces, layers, and trends on your site. As with other papers, you'll need to be selective, that is, curating your visual evidence so that it focuses on what is most significant about how the site reveals the clues to the past.
- Consider including drawings as well as photographs and maps. Do not feel intimidated if you doubt your artistic skills. The object is to record what you see and highlight what is significant about it. The illustrations will be graded on quality of content; your grade will not be reduced for lack of artistic skill. Illustrations are another way of recording and thinking about your observations.
Organizing and Drafting the Paper
- After you've done your site visits, you will need to organize your observations and evidence to focus on what you think is most significant about your site. Remember that this might be in the form of continuity or change, and that traces might be small (a cornerstone) or big (streets and buildings that have remained in place).
- You'll want to choose specific artifacts, traces, or layers that you see on the site. Keep in mind as well the dynamic of anomaly versus pattern of common features that has been a theme of the course since the start. Finally, keep an eye out for singular artifacts versus layers of artifacts from a similar period and consider the stories these layers might tell.
- Once you've curated and selected the focus of your visual evidence, you're ready to write your draft. A few things to keep in mind:
- Organize the paper around your visual evidence and close analysis of it. Remember to analyze your visual evidence in the body of the paper, and also to Make the captions do real intellectual work for the paper as well, by commenting on what they illustrate and by citing their sources fully.
- Start with an introduction that speaks to your topographical, environmental, and historical knowledge of the site so far and puts this last assignment in conversations with the previous ones.
- Consider using subheadings to organize the body of the paper, both as you write it, and for your reading audience.
- Be sure to cite properly—this means citing any sources you paraphrase, including class lectures, and providing full citations in your captions.
Refining Your Website
- The clarity and graphic quality of presentation on your website has been given more weight as the semester has progressed. Post an image on the homepage of your website if you have not already done so.