The AMQ Research Project

Project #4: The AIDS Memorial Quilt: A Personal Research Project

For this project, you will choose one panel or block of the AMQ to experience and write about in regards to what it means/how it captures meaning for you and for larger community. This writing will result in either a web page on your blog (or a series of pages) or a 3-5 page typed paper. Your goal for the last third of the course will be to use a method of writing (likely the one we’ve been practicing all semester) in your approach to this project, which will include primary research and secondary research.

How to do it:

  • Keep a double entry notebook during the weeks you’re composing the project
  • You might also/instead keep a “digital notebook” of your experiences composing the project
  • Choose a panel/block of the quilt, visit it at the Names Project Foundation (NPF) (maybe often)
  • Compose a thick description of the panel/block, access and experience any letters or other material archived at the NPF attached to your panel/block
  • Interpret the meanings you see forming in the material. You might ask: In what ways is the artifact meaningful? For whom? Why? Under what circumstances? Support those interpretations with analysis and evidence
  • Organize your thinking about these interpretations in an essay or blog space, using all the affordances of the media you choose, and considering the multimodal nature of meaning making and communication

What’s the point:

  • This project exemplifies the fundamental nature of signification and writing as a way of making meaning. Doesn’t matter what the “topic” is, or the project we’re pursuing, or where we are and with whom; the stuff of meaning making is everywhere always, including in us now. Writing for school, for a job, for a family member, for yourself… all of that writing is a way of making meaning from meanings.
  • Our meaning-making matters. The AIDS quilt exemplifies this. Your writing about the AIDS quilt exemplifies this. These forms of signification (quilting, writing) are simultaneously personal and public. This is always true, but in the form of a public cultural artifact, like the AIDS quilt, such simultaneity emerges more clearly as a resource, opportunity to form and express the meaningfulness of the artifact for ourselves, each other, and larger audiences.


  • Minimum: (Digital) Substantial web page (minimum 750-1000 words; MLA or APA formatted) or group of posts/pages offering an interesting, cohesive interpretation of your researched experience of one of the quilt blocks or panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt (AMQ). (Physical) 5+ page paper (MLA or APA formatted) offering an interesting, cohesive interpretation of your researched experience of one of the quilt blocks or panels of the AMQ.
  • More than Minimum: Students provide a portfolio of work (scraps of paper, sketches, drafts of paragraphs, sentences, recorded conversations, notebook entries, paper drafts, etc.) documenting the thinking that contributes to a substantial web page (minimum 750-1000 words) or group of posts/pages, or a 5+ page paper. This work, and/or the accompanying portfolio material, offers an interesting interpretation of your researched experience of one of the quilt blocks or panels of the AMQ. The portfolio of work might also document an evolution in your understanding of certain meanings, or challenge generally accepted understandings in interesting and compelling ways. If digital, this work demonstrates a consciously crafted use of the blog (and/or more, substantial blog entries) through the use of themes, metadata, organizational structures, multimedia, and other affordances of the blog space. If physical, the work demonstrates an awareness of the paper/word processed material space and the “academic paper” genre as a multimodal, meaning-making space.

Assessment Date:

  • Week 15 (November 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)
  • In preparation for our conference, go back and read your notebook’s left-side notes. Count each entry and record the number. Move some of your right side notes to the left side of the notebook: on the right, what is your mind doing? **You might use the back of the page for these reflections: When do you find something surprising or interesting happening in your writing? Is reading the writing easy? Clear? When is the writing confusing or muddled? Why do you think so? Bring your notebook to our meeting.
  • How did you do on the project? Does it achieve the project goals? Does the work qualify as “A” quality work? Why or why not? What grade does the work achieve and why do you say so?