Digital Exhibit Case


The capstone project of this course is a digital exhibition on the Beat Generation curated by the class. Students will contribute one digital “case” to the show based on their semester-long research project. The cases will each feature an object from the Rose Library, bibliographic label copy, and a label text explaining the significance of the object.

Completing the Assignment

The digital exhibition case has three key components: an object drawn from the Rose Library, bibliographic label copy, and a label text offering a narrative account of the object’s significance. Your choice of object will be due via email before class on Monday, November 27th. The bibliographic label copy and label text should be uploaded to our scholarblogs website before class on Monday, December 4th. 

Archival object

The center of your digital exhibition case will be, of course, an object from the Rose Library. While you can choose any object you like, in any medium you like—rare book, printed ephemera, manuscript, letter, etc.—your choice should be guided by your research project. Pick an item that is central to your research question, and around which you can tell a compelling narrative. For some of you, this choice will be fairly clear after completing your research paper. For others, this may take some more thought. Feel free to get in touch via email if you have any questions or concerns about your choice of object.

Please share your choice of object with me via email no later than our class meeting on Monday, November 27th. This lead time will allow me to arrange for a digital image of your object to be made by the Rose Library staff. If you have a specific page or aspect of your object to be featured, please let me know in your email.

bibliographic label copy

Any item featured in any exhibit will require some bibliographic label copy to identify it. For our exhibit, we will use the format that you’ve seen in the physical Beats exhibit in the Schatten Gallery. The basic format is as follows:

Creator Name, [Creator Role, if appropriate], Name of object as found in catalogue/finding aid, [format, if appropriate], [(Publication Information, if appropriate)], [Date, if publication information is not needed]. Manuscript collection information if appropriate.

Here are some examples of bibliographic information for different media:

Rare Book: Timothy Leary, High Priest, (New York, NY: World Pub. Co, 1968).

Rare Edited Collection: Diane di Prima, editor, War Poems (New York, NY: Poets Press, 1968).

Rare Periodical: Berkeley Tribe Vol. 4, No. 1 (Feb 12–19, 1971).

Article in Rare Periodical: Jack Kerouac, “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose,” Black Mountain Review 7 (Fall 1957).

Manuscript Item: Brion Gysin, “Notes on Morocco,” c. 1950s. Brion Gysin collection, 1939–1980.

Label Text

This is the heart of the assignment. Your label text is your opportunity to explain the significance of your chosen object to the reader. The emphasis should be on telling a story about the object that underlines its importance to the Beat Generation or the postwar counterculture more broadly. It should be about 150 words long, and include an original title that will draw a reader in. Here are a couple examples from the physical exhibit:

Experiments in Solidarity
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Bay Area was fertile ground for radical political coalitions that extended across divisions of race, gender, sexuality, and class. The New Mobilization Committee, a group opposed to the Vietnam War, encouraged activists to see the struggle against the war and the struggle of the Black Panther Party as linked. In a similar vein, this 1971 issue of the radical weekly Berkeley Tribe features a conversation between hippie cause célèbre Timothy Leary and Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver as two leaders of the resistance to the establishment. This experiment in coalition politics is ongoing today, with groups like Black Lives Matter repurposing the political tools of the ’60s and ’70s to the issues of our current moment.

The Neal Cassady Parole Letters
On April 16th, 1958, Beat icon Neal Cassady was arrested in San Francisco while attempting to sell a small amount of marijuana to an undercover narcotics agent. He was remanded to California’s San Quentin state prison, where he served a two-year sentence. After his arrest, Allen Ginsberg recruited friends from across the literary community to write letters in support of Cassady’s early parole. The copies of the letters displayed here were sent by Ginsberg, along with a summary of Cassady’s case, to a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Ginsberg was hoping to drum up friendly coverage for Cassady, whom he describes in his memo as “a beautiful soul” and “a great and secret writer.” Though Ginsberg’s attempts were unsuccessful, the letters stand as a testament to the close friendship between the two men, as well as the fascination Cassady inspired in his literary contemporaries.

Notice that in both cases, a narrative is offered that culminates in a “so what” statement. By this I mean a sentence or two underlining the object’s importance to our understanding of the Beats and the postwar counterculture, and if possible, linking it to issues in the present day.

Uploading Your Digital Case

To upload your digital case, please follow these steps:

  1. Log in. First things first: get on our scholarblogs site. To do so, go to You’ll then be prompted to log in using your usual Emory credentials.
  2. Create a post. This should be familiar to you from our usual process of creating blog posts. Navigate to the “posts” section of the dashboard, select “new post,” and get started.
  3. Title your post. Give your post the title of your exhibition case. Remember to try to come up with something that both describes the story you want to tell with your object and label copy, and, ideally, that will pique people’s interest.
  4. Insert placeholder image. Until the images of your chosen objects are captured, you’ll be using a placeholder image to mock up your post. To do so, click on the “add media” button at the top of your post editor. Once inside the media menu, select “media library.” There should only be one option on the list: “Placeholder.” Click on “placeholder,” and then the “add media” button on the bottom right corner of the menu.
  5. Align the image left. Once you’ve returned to the main post editing window, click on the placeholder image. You’ll be given a series of options in a small tab that opens below the image. Select the left-most button, “align left” to align your image to the left of the text you put into your post.
  6. Insert bibliographic label copy. Your cursor should now be blinking just to the right of the placeholder image. Now, enter the bibliographic label copy for your object using the Heading 3 style, which you can select from the drop-down menu at the top-left corner of your text editor.
  7. insert label copy. On a new line below the bibliographic label copy, type the body of your label copy in the normal, paragraph style.
  8. Publish your post. Once you are satisfied with what you’ve written, publish your post to the exhibit website. A sample version of a completed post can be found here.
  9. Admire your handiwork. You did it! As soon as the digitized images of your objects become available, I’ll swap them in for the placeholder image.

Grading and Assessment

The digital exhibition case is worth 15% of your overall grade. As I review your contributions to the class exhibit, I’ll use the following questions to arrive at your grade:

  • Does the post have an effective title that both describes the content of the case and draw the reader in?
  • Is the bibliographic label copy complete and correct?
  • Does the body of the label text stick close to the word limit (150 words)? (I usually wouldn’t be too finicky about this, but the genre of exhibit label copy has very strict word limits. That constraint is an important part of the assignment.)
  • Does the body of the label text tell a compelling story that underlines the importance of the chosen object to our understanding of the Beat Generation and/or the postwar counterculture more broadly?

A complete mock-up of your digital exhibit case is due by final class meeting on Monday, December 4th.