Notes from the Diaspora: Comics!!!

I put together a series of short films while traveling in South Africa. Some people journal, I use this opportunity to refine my knowledge of narrative and storytelling. The same logic that informs these shorts, influences the way I design course projects. I'm making to understand what I'm seeing.  This video is all about comics in Capetown.

Critical Making: A Primary Source Journal

Critical Making is a term I use to describe the process of creative synthesis that animates my design of class projects. This semester I'm returning to the introductory level Critical Making project based on the idea of a visual journal I learned working with Rachel Simmons. Teaching with Rachel exposed me to the journal idea as a way to explore and explain using a mix of creative tools.  Stepping back and considering the form, the visual journal offers historians working in the digital environment a way to explore primary sources in a unique way.  Aligning this project with learning outcome for the class make this an assignment that can work non-majors and more advanced students alike.   

For the introductory course like the African-American History Since 1877, this is a chance to engage students with basic histography debates by asking each student to identify a specific theme associated with the black experience and collect a series of primary sources to explore that them over time.   The page from The Crisis is the perfect example of the kinds of primary sources they are uncovering.   The final project will be interesting I'm sure.

The Crisis, March 1921.

The Crisis, March 1921.

Research Log: A Paradise Lost (?)

I'm always thinking about critical making as framework for discovery, presentation, and learning. The "making" part is hard and the "critical" part is hard. The approach has benefits and drawbacks.  Students remember what they do. No question on that point. I've conducted a survey with our teaching and learning center and it is clear the process create greater engagement. It also creates greater frustration. So, the benefits of the process, many of which are realized years after the process, must be weighed against the course review that will take place that semester.  The problem there is real.  Still, that is a "big picture" problem.  

A "little" big problem is skills!  I'm work in an interdisciplinary space with a heavy emphasis on "public" objects. My own process reflect skill building and tool use designed to allow me to have strong comfort with the process I'm asking students to undertake.  Audio podcasts are one space that has gotten a lot of attention. The broader explosion of podcasts in the wider media highlight the ability of almost anyone to create content. The best content must accomplish the same goal we aim for in a written paper.   Having done podcasts as final projects instead of written paper,  I know the benefit of that approach. Of course, the historical documentary is powerful genre most students has some exposure to prior to entering class. Now, the question becomes what can they achieve in the confine of a semester long course?   I've started to work on my own short video narratives to explore these issues.  My Cuba Dispatch series offered a chance to explore my recent trip to Cuba as a member of the Rollins Internationalization Program faculty trip.  Yes, those video were about more than tourism. By this time, I would hope you know that I'm up to something o_0'

Wheels within Wheels