Artifact #3 – Illustration Interpretation

An Audio Guide to the Archive

Students will write a script and record a 4 to 7-minute audio guide to accompany one illustration from Visual Haggard. This is an individual, not a group, project. This guide must demonstrate research on 19th-century culture and illustration studies, as well as substantial knowledge about the novel that this illustration accompanies. Each individual must select their illustration from either our class novel, King Solomon’s Mines, or else the novel their group read for Artifact #2. There can only be one guide per illustration.

Audio guides tell a story. Guides point out critical, historical, and aesthetic details that viewers might miss without curation. They are not summaries or lists; instead, guides make an argument about an artwork by telling listeners why it matters. All guides should include the following components:

  1. A brief (1-2 sentence) summary of the novel.
  2. A brief biography about the illustrator.
  3. A close reading of details in the image.
  4. Analysis of the critical implications of this image. How does this illustration and Haggard’s text both reflect and push back against late-19th and early-20th-century ideas concerning gender, race, imperialism, environmentalism, etc.? Pick one critical idea to focus on. Some suggestions for these might include the following.
    • If your illustration depicts elephants or ivory, provide a detailed history of the ivory trade, and critique this illustration from an environmental justice perspective.
    • If your illustration depicts a Zulu woman, discuss British attitudes towards Africa, race, and gender during the nineteenth-century.
    • If your illustration depicts the novel’s villain, provide a sympathetic interpretation of this character citing Haggard’s prejudices to reevaluate these stereotypical antagonists (e.g. Gagool).
    • A geographic comparison of actual landmarks and geography, accompanied by a history of their inhabitants and colonization, and fictional locations depicted in the novel.
    • Develop an argument out of your Artifact #2 Visualization. If you notice that women are shown in a passive role in %63 of illustrations from Marie, then research why this trend exists using a representative example from one illustration to exemplify your claim.
  5. Cite at least two scholarly secondary sources. Be sure to cite these sources in a manner that accords with the affordances of an audio guide. For instance, say “As Kate Holterhoff, editor of Visual Haggard explains in her biography of Haggard ‘…..'” or “According to Patrick Brantlinger’s cultural history critique of the British Empire titled Rule of Darkness….

Process is a particularly important component of this this unit. Students will critique Haggard’s graphic history rather than merely archiving and generating data around it. We will consider grander philosophical questions about textual adaptation (novel, illustration, movie, comic book, video game) and the relationship between word and image. What biases of the artist do illustrations express? Are illustrations interventions in the text, or simply mimetic copies of a book’s written content? Is there more than one way to illustrate the same textual passage or idea? What prescriptive rules, patterns and conventions do these illustrations follow? How does the experience of looking at digital copies of illustrations differ from viewing them physically? To answer these and other questions, we will visit the High Museum of Art, speak with representatives from the museum’s curatorial staff, create our own illustrations using collage and paper circuits, and reflect on the ideological content of these artworks.

Collage and Paper Circuit Illustration

Students will create visual interpretations of the same or nearby text (within 3 pages) captioned beneath the illustration selected for their audio guide. These illustrations should reimagine and push-back on Haggard’s text and possibly an illustrator’s interpretation of it (Satire, Remix). You should not simply copy the illustration, but rather reinvent it. The best projects will demonstrate 1) planning, 2) time, and 3) an interesting and thoughtful intervention in Haggard’s text.

Before beginning your design, decide what elements must be included in this illustration (characters, plot, scenery). How should these elements be arranged? Could you illustrate this scene in order to make a political statement? What strategies might you use to critique Haggard’s attitudes in regards to race, gender, religion, etc.? How could you update the scene for the modern-day? Illustrations can be as realistic or abstract and even non-objective as you choose. You should sketch out your plan before Friday, 4/7, so that you can devote the entire class period to making the illustration. In fact, you may wish to print out images to add to your collage.

As part of this course’s emphasis on digital humanities and electronic technologies, and thanks to funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries, these illustrations will include an interactive component. All illustrations must incorporate LED lights using the supplied materials. The artist Ashley Schick will give us a tutorial about creating paper circuits in class. Your instructor will provide all materials necessary for creating paper circuits (LED lights, copper tape, and batteries) as well as scissors, markers, pencils, art paper, and National Geographic Magazines.

This unit combines critical thinking with creativity. Students will have a large and varied number of resources to create interesting and beautiful illustrations. All choices in these projects must be accounted for the the 500-word reflection which will be submitted as part of your Artifact #3.


This assignment challenges students in four ways:

  • First, students must conduct substantive research.
  • Second, students must articulate an argument using the oral and nonverbal means of communication.
  • Third, students must preform close reading and identify a text’s underlying assumptions.
  • Fourth, Students must generate multiple visual interpretations of a written text.


Students should select from several different software options to create their guides:

  • Audacity (free software, Linux, Windows, OS X)
  • GarageBand (OS X)
  • LMMS (free software, Linux, Windows, OS X)


  • Wednesday 3/29: Bring 2-3 sentence proposal for audio guide to class
  • Friday 3/31: Audio editing tutorial with Alison Valk.
  • Saturday 4/1 (10:00 AM- 5:00 PM) or Sunday 4/2 (12:00- 5:00 PM): Visit the High Museum of Art.
  • Friday 4/7: Create Collage and Paper Circuit Illustrations with local artist Ashley Schick.
  • Wednesday 4/12: Draft of audio guide script due for peer review. Drafts must be at least 1,000 words (2-3 pages double spaced).
  • Monday 4/17: Artifact #3 Due. On T-Square upload or provide a link to your 1) audio guide, 2) your completed script, 3) a digital scan of your Collage and Paper Circuit Illustration (600 dpi resolution), 4) a 500-word reflection about your Collage and Paper Circuit illustration.

Survey: High Museum Trip and Paper Circuit Assignment