For Clio Wired, the draft of my grant proposal. I think I need to come up with a cool project name before the final draft is due.
I’d really like some advice on the abstract, and also on the narrative. If you have any thoughts about work plans, that would be fantastic.
Overall, I found myself really intrigued and fascinated by your proposal. Your idea for “a digital exhibit exploring the capture and burning of Washington DC” during the War of 1812 identified a clear need for the project, and proposed an effective way (through the creation of a primary source based online exhibit with a geotagging component) to make that project accessible to the general public.
My sense reading your environmental scan is that this will be the first time an online exhibition about the war of 1812 will feature a geotagging component that adds an interactive dimension to the project. If that is indeed the case, this is definitely something that needs to be in the abstract–indeed, it should be front and center through the entire document. If this is not entirely the case, identify which elements will be unique and bring that to the forefront. You allude to the unique nature of the exhibition by repeatedly highlighting the “underrepresented” nature of the War of 1812 in the “webography,” but take it a step further by demonstrating how that under-representation has created a glaring need for your project that can then serve as a model not just for future websites and online exhibitions, but can perhaps even be used as a blueprint for future work by historic sites dedicated to the War of 1812. You have done a tremendous job of bringing together all the elements of what will be a needed, useful, and engaging project–now all you have to do is demonstrate its unique nature a little more forcefully and it will really drive home the need for your project.
Your narrative does a great job of setting up the importance of the war of 1812, especially the juxtaposition of what the war is remembered for today (Francis Scott Key and the Star Spangled Banner), and the disasterous consequences the war held for the nations capital. I would briefly expand on this by adding in a sentence about the national impact and consequences of the burning of Washington and the war of 1812 more broadly. It is not an overstatement to say that the very existence of the United States in the transatlantic world hung in the balance in a manner that has largely been forgotten by history. By highlighting this element, you can help establish the national importance of your project, not only its significance for the Washington area. Furthermore, you have some incisive commentary in your narrative about how the mobile device that will also be created for this exhibit will “allow residents and visitors of the District of Columbia to actively engage with the exhibit while on the street;” emphasize how Washington draws visitors not just from all across the United States, but the world as well. Thus, your project has the ability note just to actively engage with visitors to the website, but those who come to Washington from all over the world can have the opportunity to experience a direct connection with history.
In regards to the work plan, the only addition that I might suggest would be how you plan to establish effective communication between the different elements of your project. Your proposal clearly places the project manager as the point person to establish this communication, but I am wondering about how this coordinating will be implemented during the different phases of the project. Additionally, your advisory board is in the staffing section, but left out of the work plan–will they assist in evaluating your selection of primary sources and in the critique of different narrative drafts? Admittedly, some of these final critiques are minor quibbles in what is an otherwise excellent proposal, and it bears repeating that in the broader framework of the project as a whole you have done a tremendous job!
I’m really happy that you thought about mobile and I’d put that a little bit more front and center in your narrative. Similarly, I’d like to see more of the scholarly fields in which your working so that we have a better sense of the interpretive stance that you’ll take with the materials. Finally, if you could give us a walkthrough so that we have a sense of what a user will actually experience, the proposal will be much stronger.
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