The Art of the Mixtape

Several months ago, my friend Lara Kelland and I (along with several others) discussed what we feared was the fading art of mixtape making. Inspired by that conversation, I decided that the first assignment in my upcoming digital history course would be to create a digital mixtape. I know, I know–folks these days call them “playlists.” I do too, much of the time. But I wanted students to consider their choices in a new way. Here are the guidelines I gave:

*mixes will be between 8 and 12 songs and in an intentional order (no “random” allowed).

*mixes must have a theme and some sort of cover art.

*mixes must be sharable for free (although registration could be required).

I asked the students to share their mixes in a blog post.* They were also required to explain their theme and their choice of format/platform. I left pretty much everything else open. The theme could be anything; I just wanted the songs to hang together. The mixes aren’t due until tomorrow, but several have already been shared. For what it is worth, the students have all used either spotify or 8tracks so far.

The mixtapes have to be posted before our first class meeting, and everyone is to review the other mixes before our second meeting.

This assignment should help us get to know one another and judge how familiar we all are with various digital technologies. I am particularly looking forward to discussing this with all of them in class tomorrow.


*I decided not to require public blogging from students this semester, so their posts are on our university moodle-based system. I will offer everyone the opportunity to export their blog posts to the platform of their choice at the end of the semester.

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