Resources for Teachers

Welcome to our resources for teachers! Here, we have included various materials designed to help you use the ECDA in your classroom. On the right you will find links to course syllabi, in-class activities, and assignments. We will update our classroom materials as we continue to collaborate with instructors, so please check back regularly for new teaching resources. If you would like to contribute your own teaching materials, please follow the “contribute” link below.


Early African American Literature

Nicole N. Aljoe, ECDA Co-Director and Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Northeastern University, contributed her syllabus on early African American literature. Focusing on 18th and 19th century writers from the African Diaspora, the course "investigate[s] the ways in which these early Black writers engaged with a range of issues such as the nature of the individual subject; human rights; gender and class; the rapid expansion of print culture; the development of the novel and other genres; notions of Africa; and of course notions of freedom and enslavement."

Feminist Literature and Colonial Science

Liz Polcha, ECDA Project Manager and PhD candidate at Northeastern University, contributed her syllabus on Feminist Literature and Colonial Science. The course, which focuses on gender and sexuality in Caribbean studies, sits at "the intersection of ecofeminism, postcolonial feminism, and critical race studies [and] the readings for this course challenge Eurocentric and colonial notions of scientific history, namely in herbalism, medicine, and reproductive health."


Build an Exhibit

This assignment includes a step-by-step guide for creating exhibits with the ECDA beginning with choosing an exhibit theme, selecting items for the exhibit, creating exhibit subsections, and populating the exhibit template. Students are encouraged to think of their exhibits as “curated collections” that both advance a story and are visually appealing. Included are instructions about how to use WordPress to create exhibits. After creating their exhibits, students then write a reflective essay about their work on the exhibit.

Scholarly Introduction

This assignment allows students to provide scholarly introductions for the archival items in the ECDA. Students situate the archival item for readers by discussing the history of the text’s production and reception, providing an overview of critical scholarship related to the item, and suggesting avenues for further research. Scholarly introductions are concise and brief, usually 300-500 words. The assignment also asks students to complete a separate essay in which they reflect on their research process and analyze their findings. Also included are suggested research tools to assist students in gathering information about their texts.

TEI as Close Reading

This assignment was developed by Elizabeth Hopwood, a former project manager of the ECDA who earned her PhD from Northeastern in 2016. Using XML (extensible markup language) and TEI (text encoding initiative), students markup portions of early Caribbean texts. Students highlight formal elements, such as paragraphs and word emphasis, and content such as person and place names. In doing so, students are asked to think about how best to describe the text as well as what the markup process might reveal about the text that simply reading would not. Students also complete a reflective essay at the end of the assignment. Familiarity with TEI is necessary for the assignment and technical workshops are encouraged to familiarize students before beginning the project.

Embedded Slave Narratives

This assignment introduces students to the concept of an embedded slave narrative and ultimately asks them to locate and analyze an embedded slave narrative that is not already in the ECDA's archive. Students begin the assignment by reading and discussing a dis-embedded slave narrative, "The Narrative of Rose," and considering questions of voice and knowledge. Students then locate an embedded slave narrative on their own, dis-embed the narrative from the surrounding text, and think about how reframing slave narratives can change scholarly practices and questions.