Frances Glessner Lee is known for her work, the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” This series contains “nineteen intricately designed dollhouse-style dioramas” (Wikipedia, 2023).
The dioramas are detailed representations of death scenes that are composites of actual court cases, created by Glessner Lee on a 1-inch to 1 foot (1:12) scale. Originally twenty in number, each model cost about US$3,000–4,500 to create. She attended autopsies to ensure accuracy, and her attention to detail extended to having a wall calendar include the pages after the month of the incident, constructing openable windows, and wearing out-of-date clothing to obtain realistically worn fabric. The dioramas show tawdry and, in many cases, disheveled living spaces very different from Glessner Lee's own background. The dead include sex workers and victims of domestic violence.
The purpose of the Nutshell Studies was to help law enforcement learn how to investigate crime scenes.
You will create a Nutshell Study Diorama constructed in the same vein as those of Frances Glessner Lee. The diorama will be based on a death scene sketch you construct with your assigned group. I will assign groups of 3-4 students. The diorama should appear to be a realistic depiction of a death scene, specifically, a homicide.
The first step in constructing your Nutshell Study Diorama is to come up with a death scene and associated narrative. For the death scene, you will first sketch it by hand. The associated narrative accompanies the death scene and should be brief (see the PDF below for examples). Information required for the associated narrative includes: victim(s); when the death was reported; who was questioned; and brief statements from those who were questioned. Keep in mind, the goal is not for the death to be solved, but rather to teach observers how to look for clues.
After creating a hand-drawn death scene and associated narrative, you will use the online, free program, Smartdraw, to virtually sketch the death scene which you will later produce for your Nutshell Study. Note, Smartdraw is only free for 7 days. Thus, before you begin sketching in Smartdraw, I suggest you draw on paper. Then, you can work on the actual virtual sketch within the free trial window.
Death Scene Narrative and Hand-drawn Sketch
Nutshell Study Diorama
Due dates for the various components of the Nutshell Study appear directly above. You will be given time in class to work on generating ideas and creating the sketches with your groupmates. However, you may have to spend some time outside the classroom completing this assignment. Once your sketch is approved by me, you may begin working on the 3D model of your Nutshell Study.
The Death Scene Narrative and Hand-drawn Sketch as well as Smartdraw Sketch should be submitted to the associated folders in D2L in the Nutshell Study folder.
Grading: Your group death scene narrative, hand-drawn sketch, and Smartdraw sketch will be assessed using the rubric below. This counts for 30% of the total Nutshell Study grade.
Yes (=5 points)
No (=0 points)
Create death sketch using Smartdraw
Death sketch depicts a death
Death sketch is detailed
Death sketch is visually appealing
Death sketch has accompanying narrative
Accompanying narrative includes all the required components (victim(s); when the death was reported; who was questioned; and brief statements from those who were questioned)
The final Nutshell diorama will be graded using the following rubric. You will also grade yourself and your team members. Your individual final score will be (Nutshell diorama score X grade %).
Yes (=20 points)
Somewhat (=10 points)
No (=0 points)
Diorama is complete
Diorama is detailed
Diorama is visually appealing
Diorama is built to 1” to 1’ scale
Yes (=10 points)
No (=0 points)
Diorama depicts a death
Diorama has printed accompanying narrative
Personal and Peer Assessment Rubric1
I attended all the days we worked on the group project.
I attended all but 1 day we worked on the group project.
I attended all but 2 days we worked on the group project.
I missed at least 3 or more days when we worked on the group project.
I put a great deal of effort into constructing our diorama.
I put in a moderate amount of effort into constructing our diorama.
I put in a minimal amount of effort into constructing our diorama.
I put no effort into constructing our diorama.
I contributed a great deal of effort in designing our diorama.
I put in a moderate amount of effort into designing our diorama.
I put in a minimal amount of effort into designing our diorama.
I put no effort into designing our diorama.
My peers would agree I did excellent work.
My peers would agree I did very good work.
My peers would agree I did good work.
My peers would agree I did not good work.
I was always cooperative and displayed a positive attitude.
I was usually cooperative and displayed a positive attitude.
I was sometimes cooperative and rarely displayed a positive attitude.
I was seldom cooperative and rarely displayed a positive attitude.
The project is complete, done on time, and followed instructions.
The project is generally complete, mostly done on time, and mostly followed instructions.
The project is partially incomplete, was not done on time, and did not follow some of the instructions.
The project is pretty incomplete, was not done on time, and did not follow many of the instructions.
Almost always I was focused on the task and tried to keep the group working together. I am very self-directed.
I focused on the task most of the time and did not cause problems in the group.
I sometimes focused on the task and had to be prodded and reminded to keep working.
I did not focus on the task and let others do the work.
Overall, I did excellent work.
Overall, I did very good work.
Overall, I did good work.
Overall, I did not good work.