When it came time to pass around the snacks, my students asked me if had brought the lemonade on purpose. "Uh, no, not really, I just like it." And they were surprised, because all they could think about was Beyoncé's new release. They asked if they could play the album while we circulated thank-you cards to write. "Sure, why not?"
Student Projects Reflect on Fear, Racism, and Control.
I'm so greatly proud of my students for taking up my final course assignment and really running with the idea!
Asking them to get into collaborative groups midway through the semester, resulted in four creative examinations of zombie media using Critical Discourse Analysis as a primary method. Their projects are now available for viewing online at our project website here. Student bios, contributors, and more details are available on the *about* page.
Designed exclusively for the web, this exhibit is "born-digital," and organized in a format that encourages free browsing, in no particular order. Four hubs of the exhibit display a visual timeline or storymap that helps to chronicle each collaboration's innovative approach to examining popular discourse about zombies.
The exhibit includes references to several key historical films, including Night of the Living Dead, and White Zombie, as well as TV shows iZombie and American Horror Story: Coven.
Student authors also discuss zombies in the context of:
How We Built Our Collaborative Digital Exhibit.
I estimate that as a result of our project, students now have a stronger understanding of what the digital humanities is, as well as a much greater appreciation for what it takes to develop thoughtful digital content through collaboration.
- Early March-to Early May: NEARLY TWO MONTHS OF COLLABORATIVE BRAINSTORMING IN SEMINAR | Early on, I encouraged my students to work together in seminar to analyze the texts we were engaging with. As students discussed texts like Heart of Darkness, Descent of Man, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from differing critical angles, their brainstorming spread out across multiple sheets of poster paper that I would bring back to our classroom to display and build upon in subsequent meetings. Eventually, I facilitated their efforts to channel these idea maps into visual genealogies and prose analyses, all created collaboratively. These formed the stuff of our digital exhibit.
- Mid-April: INTERDISCIPLINARY DISCUSSION IN SEMINAR | To assist us in building our ideas, I also organized an interdisciplinary conversation in our seminar to bring in students and professors who were also studying "Voodoo", Vodun, and exports of Haitian culture, though differently. The resulting discussion on April 13, 2016 with students in Prof. Micheline Rice-Maximin's francophone studies course on Haitian literature in French, as well as with Prof. Yvonne Chireau of the Department of Religion (and #MoralityRaceBody), and librarian Pam Harris, left a rich impact on our seminar.
- Late March: CONFERENCE INSPIRATION | Back in late March, I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on a few sessions of the 2016 conference for the National Council on Public History in Baltimore, MD. A session on digital exhibits for the public introduced me to TimelineJS as a digital storytelling tool. I came back with the the bare bones of a born-digital exhibit idea, but I still needed help figuring how to setup the back-end of the project. This is where I reached out to digital and humanities librarians at Swarthmore College for additional guidance.
- April: TECHNICAL & CREATIVE GUIDANCE FROM LIBRARIANS | These guys were incredible technical resources and creative consultants--after talking with them, we had decided to bring the students in on formatting their contributions into HTML for the online space, using Markdown and StackEdit as tools. Librarians Nabil Kashyap and Roberto Vargas came into our classroom to provide a tutorial in using TimelineJS, StoryMapJS, and Markdown with StackEdit. By the time our session was over, students who had never before attempted any sort of coding were experimenting with generating HTML!
- Early May: I WORK WITH STUDENTS TO FINALIZE CONTENT & LIBRARIANS UPLOAD THE HTML | This final stage of the project was a LOT of work. At this stage of the project, my role was as an editor and project manager. Plus, I'm a linguist, so I can be very focused on sentence-level meaning, and making sure that an author's meaning is clear with the words they choose. It was really exciting to be able to dedicate time to closely reading the work of my students and guiding them towards greater clarity, contextualization, and brevity. In this final stage, I was also in close contact with my librarian colleagues, to assist in making stylistic decisions, and developing all remaining content (including the *about* page prose) for the [ZOMBIES REIMAGINED] exhibit website.