In almost every city, we can find monuments and historical markers that commemor

Sep 1, 2021 | literature

In almost every city, we can find monuments and historical markers that commemorate important persons, moments, or events. Sometimes these monuments and markers are old, placed generations ago, and sometimes they are placed to reclaim a space, to correct a narrative. This project asks you to design a marker, explain exactly where it would be placed (in Miami, or in another city), and explain why. 

Here are some examples where people "in real life" designed and placed markers: Equal Justice Initiative, Equality Forum, and Refusing to Forget,  This website even lets you search your county for historical markers that already exist (check out Miami-Dade!). I recommend you browse through these to get a sense of what a marker does and what it looks like. 

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As we've discussed (and will continue to discuss) public space and taking up space are important themes in discussions about "the city": when space is limited, physical space becomes important to discussions about identity, community, justice, and the right to exist. I want you to use this project to lay claim to a public space by placing a marker/monument in that space. In so doing, you'll also explore a connection that you feel to the city. You have two choices for your topic: 

  • You could focus on a significant person or event that is important to a community that you belong to. In this option, you would pick a specific community you belong to here in the city (not something extremely broad like "from Miami", but something more specific; for example, something based on your race/ethnicity/gender, a hobby, a club, etc), and you would use this opportunity to pass an important story about this community on to others in Miami through the use of public space. (Note: this doesn't have to be a formal community–it can be just a group of people you feel connection to. For example, communities might include "Haitian immigrants" or "parents of disabled children" or–a more formal community–"Boys and Girls Club").
  • You could focus on a significant event or space that is important to your story. You would use this opportunity to pass on your story, in a very public way, in order to argue that it is important (or should be) to your community (see my notes above about what I mean about "community" here). 

Following the conventions of place-based writing, you'll need to pick an event/person/place that is real and meaningful to you. In other words, you should not create a fictional event or place. However, while the event/person should be real, it doesn't have to be something you personally experienced/witnessed–it can be something that merely impacted you/your community. 

As with mini-project 1, I'm leaving these options broad in order to give you the space to choose something that feels meaningful to you. 

The document you turn in must do three things: 

1. Location: You must explain where your marker would go. Include images, like a map or photograph to help us understand your plans for this marker. Be sure to justify why you've chosen that location.  Why is this the place the marker should go? How is the person or event you've chosen to highlight connected to thislocation? 

2. Design: You must design the marker. What exactly would be written on the marker/plaque? (You may choose to design a statue instead of a marker; if you do, explain what the statue would look like and explain what would be written on the base of the statue.)

For the written portion of your marker/statue, include a title/heading, and then write about 75-250 of text (see the examples I provided in the links above). Think carefully about how you use this written space: you must provide the information that helps the audienceunderstand the significance of the physical place you have chosen and the significance of the person/event; you also want to interest readers who may encounter your marker accidentally. 

Note: do not merely summarize what the plaque/statue would say–write the exact words that would appear on the marker. 

3. Reflection: Explain to your classmates what you designed and why. What's the story behind this marker? Why did you choose this subject? What additional details are important for your classmates to understand? Why did you design the marker the way you did? Why did you include the details you chose to include in the text of the marker–why are those the most important details for people to know? Why is this event/subject/person personally meaningful and/or meaningful to your community? Your reflection should be at least 250 words long. 

Because you are designing a public marker, you'll present your ideas to the whole class when you post the first draft to the discussion board called Mini Project 2: Monuments and Markers: Peer Review.


Here's the grading criteria: 

  • Does the student thoughtfully choose a place for their marker? Does their description of the significance of the place and the design of the project overall evoke a connection to place? (25%) 
  • Does the student thoughtfully design a marker for a public audience? Is the text of the marker clear and appropriate (given the purpose and the audience)? Has the student followed the genre conventions of a marker/statue? (20%)
  • Does the writer include a thoughtful reflection that explains the marker and the choices made by the writer? Does the writer make clear to the reader why this marker is significant to the writer and/or a community they belong to? (25%)
  • Is the text polished and does it show evidence of proofreading and revision? Does it meet the minimum word requirement? (10%) 

link To examples


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