Death Studies UnEssay

In HIST452: Death and Human Remains in Public History, I’ve been using the UnEssay project as an overall assessment tool for the course. You can read all about the course syllabus and readings at this link.

Soon you will also find some examples of student work, but for now check out these tweets for some Spring 2023 examples!

Here is how the UnEssay works:

What is an UnEssay? 

An UnEssay is an opportunity for you to get creative with you own ideas and abilities to create a product; though we recognize that some of you may be  sometimes, people are more comfortable with a traditional essay, but we hope that you will (and encourage you to) think outside of the traditional-essay-box box for your Final in this class. You could sew something, write something, sculpt or draw something; you could build a tabletop or computer-based game, expand a project from an earlier unit, or write and perform a play with peers. You could do something we haven’t even thought of! 

The main goal of this as a Final is to bring together all we have done in this course and show what it has meant to you and what you have learned from this shared experience. 

Preliminary Project Proposal

Write me a paragraph or two about what you plan to do for your UnEssay project. 

Give me a THESIS – what are you trying to answer? 

Tell me how you plan to do this? 

What are any challenges you foresee in this project, and how will you overcome those? 

Do you have a preliminary timeline


For the Midterm: 

For the Midterm, we want you to come up with a proposal for your final unessay project. Of course, at this stage, you’ve only had a few of the class units, so don’t feel like you are getting locked in or contracted to do a particular thing. This is more an opportunity for you to start thinking about the scope and possibilities of an unessay project related to this class. It is also a time for you to stop and reflect on where you’ve been and where you might be interested in going this semester.

Your proposal should be formatted as a short paper that addresses the following:

  • What is your proposed outcome/product? Be detailed and include a plan of work/schedule
  • How do you plan to complete this by the end of the semester? 
  • How does it bring together the topics we have covered in class so far/will cover? 
  • How does this relate to our overall theme of “Death and Public History”? How is the public involved? 

Remember – creativity is encouraged! This is COHFA, so nothing is too “out there” for this project. 

Progress Report

How is your assignment coming along? 

What is left to finish? 

How much time do you think you will need to complete your project? 

Have you run into any unforeseen issues or problems? 

Give me a quick breakdown of what is left to work on, and how you plan to finish it before the end of the semester? 

Have you given any thought to your presentation? Will you need anything printed, or anything special that I can help with? 

Don’t forget to keep thinking about how the project relates to our overall themes of death and public history in particular. 

Final Project

Your Final UnEssay Project will be turned in here in THREE Parts. 
**** Don’t forget you ALSO have a Course Reflection due in the Final tab! 

1. Final PRESENTATION – An in-class presentation of the project you created for your UnEssay. Turn in your presentation at the drop box below. 

2. Final PROJECT: Upload ANY parts of your projects that are digital, or take photos, etc. There are 5 drop boxes available, so you should combine materials into one PDF if you have more than that. 

3. Final REPORT:

This is where you tell me about the project itself. This final report should be at least 3 pages long. 

Answer these questions: 

  1. Create a “Designer’s or Artist’s Statement” – this should be a paragraph about your project, written for the public, as a short “elevator pitch” of what the project is, why you made it, and how it turned out. 
  2. Summarize the project – what did you make? 
  3. How did your project change from the ideas you had at the beginning of the semester? 
  4. What would you change about the project if you could? How would your project change if you had more time or resources? 
  5. What were the biggest challenges you faced in creating your final unEssay? 
  6. What was your favorite thing about this project? Least favorite?  
  7. Tell me the 3 main things you learned from creating this UnEssay? 
  8. Would you rather write an essay or create an UnEssay? Why or why not? 
  9. Would you suggest this as an activity in this class going forward? Why or why not? 
  10. Don’t forget to tell me about the sources you used! 
  11. Anything else you want to add. 

Bonus: May I share your project on my website or on the Interdisciplinary Department website? I will use your name, or not -just let me know. It is also 100% ok to say no, and I won’t, even anonymously – this will not impact your grade. 

More Resources

More information about unEssays (Maybe you can get some ideas from some of these example projects but DO NOT COPY any of these): 


More samples: Below are some fantastic digital unessays that students have submitted. These examples don’t necessarily model the content of your assignments, as some were completed for classes covering very different topics, but hopefully they will give you a sense of what kinds of work you might complete.

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