Critical Edition Assignment

"Strange Fruit" draft by Seamus Heaney


This assignment requires students to create take a poem or short story and create a mock-critical edition of the text. The critical edition will include an annotated copy of the text, relevant archival documents, and citations, annotations and excerpts from five critical articles or chapters. Students will also write an introduction to their critical edition.

Learning Outcomes

After this assignment students will be able to

  • conduct archival research
  • read library catalogue and finding aid information
  • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
  • use primary and secondary sources to provide insight into the literary text
  • identify and write within given genre conventions

Preparation for Session

In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

  • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should accomplish during the session
  • Prior to the session, students should understand what they are looking for while examining the materials
  • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully


Here’s what you can expect during your class session:

  • Recommended: a class visit by Rose Library staff to teach students how to locate and request appropriate materials in our collections through an interactive workshop session. We recommend scheduling this prior to the Rose Library session.
  • Rose Library session will be a group work session.

Final Products

Students will produce footnote annotations for the work of literature they use as a subject. They will also select and gloss relevant archival materials, and will produce an annotated bibliography of secondary sources, along with relevant excerpts from those sources. Students will write an introduction to their editions in which they will offer relevant contextual information about the selected text and author, an explanation of the significance of the selected archival materials, and a brief discussion of the selected secondary sources. The introduction should be approximately 5-7 pages.

Recommended Collections

Relevant collections will vary with course topics. Please consult with Rose Library staff to determine how our materials can best serve your course goals. Authors' papers, the Rare Book collection, and the Danowski Poetry Library will be particularly useful for this assignment. Additional materials from relevant historical collections may also be useful. Some particularly well-suited collections are:


To cite this page:

Early, Shanna. "Critical Edition Assignment," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access],

Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.