Problems explores, Inner City and Youth Media

There are many things in Goodman Chapter 1 that caught my attention. The text first brings up the EVC and the documentary workshop that the students are a part of. The most interesting thing to me about this is the topics they chose. Things like police brutality, youth crime, imprisonment, racial profiling, the prison system. I am writing about this because I think it is absolutely crazy that we live in the same community yet my topics for a documentary wouldn’t even be close to these. It makes you appreciate how much you have and all the privilege we have. My topics would include, stress from school, going on to grad school stress, etc. Things like that. And it is beyond crazy that inner city students might not even have the change to go to school. So my stresses, which I would make a documentary about, don’t even compare to the stress and duress that people living in poverty are under. I just think it is really important to understand this dichotomy and difference. As mentioned previously, people living in poverty deal with so many problems. Homelessness, incarceration, teen parenthood, drug and alcohol addictions. The crazy thing is that our society has put even more pressure on inner city teenagers through punishing them more harshly. These students and children need role models and support. The problem is that the support is supposed to be from the schools but the schools don’t provide this. We, as a society, are denying these kids the necessary told to develop literacy, ultimately causing them to lose their voice. The statistics on page 25 are mind blowing. Goodman writes about this zero tolerance policy that schools have. Tolerance and patience are what these kids need. The whole system is flawed and messed up. I don’t really want to speak much about how inner city children are consumers, so instead I will talk about the school system. Goodman writes “speaking for themselves about their own lives and experiences, inner-city youth offer an important alternative perspective”. This is the most important thing. The fact that we can learn so much through the inner city youth. Their needs to be this reciprocal relationship. In regards to the school system, there is little progress to improve literacy skills and learning opportunities. I mean, in 2018 you’d think there would be opportunity upon opportunity upon opportunity. In my poverty class we read a piece about how schools are more than just places to learn. They are communities, safe houses. In inner city communities, schools are not like this. Students lose their voice in these schools. As my last though, I want to share a story of my friend who worked in a low income school district. She worked with 10 students of color who live just above the poverty line. The stories she tells me about the teacher of the class are insane. She wouldn’t show up consistently, was on her phone, was not tolerant (common theme), did not give […]

Reflections on Building an Inclusive Archive

The phrase, “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or it will be Bullshit,” has never sat right with me. I don’t know why. I knew I wanted to take intersectionality into account when I was making my sign for the Women’s March on Washington, and I did option that phrase for my sign content. But I couldn’t do it. I ended up going with a shortened version of a bell hooks quote that read, “American women, without exception are socialized to be racist, classist, and sexist. Labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to end the legacy of negative socialization.” This quote to me felt more nuanced, and less sensationalized than the former. Even if it did make for a potentially less striking sign (a lot of verbiage does not for an eye-catching poster make), I felt that I needed to be thorough in expressing my support for all of the women in the march, rather than just the ones who looked like me. And even my sign was not as thorough as it could have been. In her quote, hooks doesn’t mention our socialization of being ableist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or xenophobic. But who am I to alter a bell hooks quote?? I didn’t like that the slogan said “My Feminism.” As if I own a share of a stock called feminism and my piece is unique and special and malleable. Then I thought, maybe this is meant to read “the way that I practice feminism will be intersectional.” But that didn’t feel right either. Because, really in the scheme of things, what do I do to encourage intersectional feminist conversations? Not a ton, if we’re being honest. And if we’re really getting picky, the inclusion of “bullshit” added an extra punch to the slogan that I wan’t entirely comfortable with. There is anger in the slogan. But who’s anger? Do I claim ownership over the anger and frustration that women in other marginalized groups feel at being excluded from the feminist narrative. I mean, after all, the white feminist narrative works in my favor. That’s not to say that white feminism isn’t bullshit. It is. But if I benefit from the bullshit, is it mine to be angry at? I didn’t and don’t have answers to any of these questions. The more I worked on the archive, the more questions I had. Why are only white women volunteering to be interviewed? How valuable is a persective on the importance of intersectionality coming from a white woman? Or three white women? Or a white man? But if I pressure a woman of color into being interviewed, I’ve negated the democratization of the archive, potentially. And who am I to explain intersectionality any way? Does my location, as documentarian Robert Coles calls it, position me in a place where my perspective as a white women overwhelms the perspectives of other voices? I’m curating this exhibit from my one, limited perspective. There’s nuance, and authenticity, and legitimacy that […]

Working in Omeka

  When I signed up for this class, I had a certain skill set regarding the ways that students typically perform and are evaluated in the classroom. These included formal analysis, canvas blog posts, class discussion, and essays written in word that would be printed and slipped under a door or into a mailbox. While I did use some of my aforementioned skills in this class, I was also introduced to a brand new set. I had never created and managed a domain. I had never added subdomains to account for a variety of topics. I had never used a shared annotation tool such as Hypothesis to share my comments about class readings. While I had worked in Creative Commons, I had never pulled material off of Shared Shelf to utilize in my work. Perhaps the biggest learning curve was that I had never curated a digital archive before. In fact, I had never even met someone who had curated a digital archive before. Omeka was a completely abstract concept. At the start of the semester, all of the tools and skills that we would be using seemed foreign and abstract to me. Without a doubt, they sounded alluring. But also intimidating and highly technical in a way that made me uncomfortable and unsure. And yet, out of all of the digital platforms that we used over the course of the semester, I am perhaps the most comfortable now with Omeka. This is likely the result of just extreme exposure to the program and the necessity of working in the nitty gritty details for hours on end. The concept of meta-data was completely new to me. Data seemed like such an empirical word and so straight forward. I had never considered the necessity of taking account of the data you have. But it only makes sense that if there is data about anything measurable than there should be data about data! There was surely a learning curve in terms of categorizing metadata, however with the generous aid of Jordan Noyes and Susan Falciani, it soon felt like second nature and every vocabulary word had a meaning that I could understand and expand upon. It did take me a while to realize that everything I wanted to archive needed to be added as an item in Omeka. Because Omeka is slightly reminiscent of a social-networking sight in that you can upload and post content, I kept thinking that I could upload photos right from my Desktop and into the pages of the exhibit where I wanted it to go. Obviously this is not the case because without the photo’s metadata, the photo is illegitimate. The (painstaking) process of entering metadata for items really made me appreciate that every photo, every piece of media in general really, has a specific context of production. When we look at a photo now, there is so much that we forget to ask. Who took this photo? And where? And when? And how? We see the desperate attempt at reclaiming metadata when […]

Final Reflection

The digital exhibit building process this semester has been a fresh academic experience. While coming in relatively confident, the actual creative work involved has been eye opening and a nice challenge. Throughout the rest of my classes here at Muhlenberg, I have yet to participate in a project quite like this one. Getting to work in a new program like Omeka was a great experience as well. I didn’t run into any technical issues for the most part, and the actual piecing together of each page was a simple process. I felt as if Omeka was very accessible and allowed for just enough formatting, without drowning us in options. It certainly was a great tool for this exhibit building. Also, having all the metadata all in one place made things simple as well, despite being time consuming. Speaking of being time consuming – this process was deceiving in the amount of time it demanded. Never having completed a project like this, I didn’t consider the amount of creative work that would be involved. The pressure of doing justice to ones story, while creating a scholarly exhibit, exploring a field I’ve never worked in, that allows readers to learn, as well as creating an aesthetically pleasing project as a whole was honestly a bit overwhelming. I feel as if, now having one exhibit under my belt, I could have a more schematic process of attacking the exhibit. At the beginning, I wondered where would be the best place to begin. Perhaps a practice exhibit towards the beginning of the semester would have been a helpful exercise in approaching our projects. I also think this would have been a useful exercise in figuring out what to focus on in the exhibit and how to author it. Up until the last minute, where we had to decide on our themes of exhibit, I genuinely had no clue on what I’d like to write about, or what would be a worthwhile pursuit in the first place. I was attracted to the idea of including faculty perspective, but wasn’t quite sure how to capture that. Admittedly, I had thoughts of the class failing in our pursuits, but in time I felt it all come together. This hands on work we all contributed in was an awesome academic experience. I almost felt apart of a team all working towards the same goal. I appreciate my classmates for putting in the work and all attributing towards the project, despite all of our hectic schedules. Even though we were a small group, I think we accomplished everything we could do, and I’m happy to have been apart of this course. Was it challenging – yes. Was it worth it – definitely. Please enjoy the work our class put together over the course of the semester! Here is a link to my exhibit. Special thanks to our Professor, Lora Taub-Pervizpour for always keeping us motivated and fed. And another special thanks to Jordan Noyes for all the work you […]

Jessica: Final Reflections

I knew what I wanted my exhibit to be about on the first day of class. As we were going through the syllabus, I saw that we would be creating an exhibit about whatever aspect of the Women’s March interested us. As I do with most of my class projects, I immediately thought of ways that I could focus on clothing or costumes. From that class forward, I kept a word document with ideas and relevant quotes that came up throughout the semester. The questions that drove me from the beginning were: “What do you wear to a protest? Who does or doesn’t display their messages on their body? What do those messages convey?” Over the last few months, those questions have evolved into the finished exhibit “What They Wore.” Our class did a successful job of walking us through all the necessary steps for me to go from an idea about protest clothing to a finished online exhibit with oral histories to back it up. The beginning of the semester was a little slow, as we mostly focused on academic articles about archives and oral histories. While it was important that we gained the background about these methods of gathering and storing information, it became slightly repetitive. The best part of our course was being so hands on; we got to work on our projects and discuss them in class. This was possible due to our small class size, but I think that we lost out on scope because there were only five of us. I wish that we could have focused more on protest on Muhlenberg’s campus, because it more directly relevant to a Muhlenberg-based archive. While we were aware that our oral history subjects were not very diverse, we did not have enough time to conduct more interviews with a wider range of narrators. I leave this class wondering if our research will be used in the future. Maybe if our archive is advertised widely with the rest of Muhlenberg’s online archive, students and faculty will start using it as a resource for research. When I personally start research, I do it through the subject guides that are linked on the library’s website, instead of on the actual library’s website. I don’t know how many studies will be done on specifically the Women’s March of 2017, but hopefully all the effort that we put into learning these processes and compiling our work will be useful to others. I enjoyed the oral history aspect of this project, but I still feel it is slightly outdated. Even though we read articles about how important these recordings are, I still have that small part of my brain that thinks of them as an old-fashioned way to collect information. I need to work to counteract these thoughts, because I appreciate that they can give those without a platform a way to be heard and remembered. In general, I am glad to be leaving my exhibit behind when I graduate, because it […]

“I thought this was a good opportunity for us to be in a larger community of social justice activists and advocates”

Name: Black and white signs from the National Organization for Women (NOW) being carried at the Women’s March in Washington DC, January 21st, 2017 Artist: Emily Hoolihan Location: Muhlenberg College: Protest Artifacts on Shared Shelf Commons I met with the director of the Office of Multicultural Life at Muhlenberg to learn more about the participation of Muhlenberg faculty and students in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. this year. In our interview, I learned that a group of students reached out through social media to unite members of the college community to join in the march. I remembered reading an article in the school newspaper, the Muhlenberg Weekly, about students reflecting on the march and ideas for continuing the discussions that took place during the event in different ways. I thought about the importance of the idea of continuing the discussion, which was emphasized in each story I heard about the Women’s March, and made connections to the efforts the school has made to encourage communication and discussion by inviting speakers and hosting events. I thought about ways I could help keep the talk going. Powered by WPeMatico

Final Blog Post

On September 30th, I remember reading Principles for Oral Histories and Best Practices on the bus on the way to a soccer game. I remember reading this and taking notes on the bus. Colin, my roommate, who sits next to me before every game asked me, why are you learning about oral history? My response was one word: preservation. He proceeded to put his headphones on and listen to his rap music and I continued to take notes on best practices of oral history. I made a connection between oral history and music. Music, similarly to oral history tells a story. Music is a form of history since we can learn so much from the music, the lyrics, the beat, the dance. These aspects that can be learned in a song, can also be learned in an oral history. As I continued learning and reading about oral histories, the most important thing I acquired was the importance of research. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH! Nothing could happen until the research phase begins. To me, research is not just a phase. It is an ongoing process. This is something I learned from creating my OMEKA exhibit. When I was first planning my OMEKA exhibit, I figured I would just do all my research first, get all my pictures, my information, and then entering it into omeka was the easy part. I was wrong! I have continued to do research. I have continued documenting. I have continued learning. So, this takes me back to oral history. My first oral history was with Gary Pershad about the ongoing struggle between students, student athletes, and campus police. I thought, “oh Gary is my friend, I don’t need that much research”. I was wrong again. I met with Gary a few days before our interview and I was not prepared. When I got back to my room that night I sat on my computer for two hours and just did research. I did research about Muhlenberg, campus police, protest, and oral history. Finally, on interview day, I was prepared. As the year went on, I learned more about ethics, oral history, and archiving. Dr. Gail DeKosnik came in to speak with us and I really valued this day. I learned so much about Rogue Archivists and archiving in general. I wrote another blog post on what I learned. I decided to incorporate this in my exhibit about social media and the importance of archiving. The other night when I had the flu, I was doing research on archiving and the challenges we as media users face. I remember reading a Roy Rosenzweig article earlier in the year about the importance of archiving and preserving history. Well, I think this is essential. In the digital world we live in, being able to snap photos and videos, post live statuses. It’s all amazing until it’s gone. We need to archive. So, as the semester comes to an end so does Documentary Archives, Protest and Activism. But the oral histories, […]

Jessica: Omeka Reflections

Over the course of the semester, I have become more comfortable using different platforms online. We learned how to use WordPress to make this blog, so I became comfortable navigating that setup in order to make posts. I have struggled the most in formatting in WordPress, especially as I also am trying to make an online portfolio with the main page of my website. In comparison, Omeka is slightly more straightforward because there are fewer options for theme. I like that when adding a block of text or an item, it gives you a few options about how to orient that section. Also, I have not had to deal with picking a theme and formatting it, because we picked one that runs across all pages for our class. The hardest part about Omeka is uploading items. It is a time consuming process to figure out and input as much metadata as possible, and I still don’t feel like I got a complete grasp on Dublin Core’s categories. However, I am comfortable with a few categories, because they do not change from item to item or are straightforward, like repository and creator. Another small obstacle is the glitch we have had with photos uploading sideways. It therefore becomes a more time consuming process to use those items, because we have to reformat the image so that it stays in its correct orientation. The biggest obstacle I had when creating my exhibit did not have to do with Omeka at all. It was my schedule. The show that I was costume designing went into tech as we were working on this project, and then I had a final due first that took precedence. Therefore I have had a hard time working on my exhibit outside of class. Now that both of those things are done (and that the due date was pushed back), I will have more time to focus on making my exhibit the best that it can be. Powered by WPeMatico

Digital Exhibit Building: Experiences Thus Far

A few semesters ago when I declared my majors, I never would have thought I would create a digital exhibit. In all honesty, digital exhibits in general were something I hadn’t even considered to exist. Though, now I can say building this exhibit has been something fresh and exciting in my academic pursuit. Certainly, I’ve run into some issues, but not many technological problems. Personally, Omeka hasn’t been too difficult to wrap my head around. I find the process of putting all the pieces into Omeka somewhat satisfying, although quiet time consuming. Entering metadata takes a deceivingly long time, but that is just part of the job when doing archival work. All in all, I haven’t found the technology to be restricting in any meaningful way. However, where I have found the most difficulties has been in the intellectual work involved with building the exhibit. Never having completed a project like this, I found the process of writing up and tying pages together to make the project cohesive to be difficult. Also, at the start of the semester, I hadn’t really a clue where my project would end up. So choosing a topic to stick with and formulate a project around was quite difficult. Further, bringing in scholarship from a field I was unfamiliar with was also something to grapple with. This tied to struggling to find the right authorial voice. I felt as if I didn’t have the authority to be speaking on such fields despite somewhat immersion into the field of scholarship to gain the background and understanding needed. Using, in my eyes, a shaky scholarly voice, combined with a blog post or essay voice has been hard to balance. This has been where I spend most of my troubleshooting. I’ll write, erase, write, erase, etc, until I finally find a voice that I feel is somewhat appropriate. Lastly, finding this authorial voice also has been a struggle in that I’ve been conscious of doing our subjects justice. So the iterative process of writing and formulating this voice has been my biggest issue, but none the less, this project has been something brand new and fresh for me as a student at Muhlenberg. Powered by WPeMatico

Designing My Exhibit

Designing my exhibit was a fun yet stressful task. I think whenever we use technology for projects that we are unfamiliar with, things get a bit complicated. For me, using Omeka was the most difficult thing out of the whole project. I guess, in a way, this is a good thing, but I found it very hard to navigate through Omeka and to get my exhibit how I wanted it to look aesthetically. In Omeka, I think the most challenging part is putting in all the metadata and uploading items. Sometimes, I’ll be in my zone, working very hard and passionately, and then I’ll have to upload an item. In a way, it distracts me from the project. I think I can learn from this challenge though. Next time, I will upload all my items first, and then go from there, whereas on the other hand, just uploading what I need when I need it. What I do like about Omeka is how the final project looks. As I construct more and more pages with information and data, I really like how beautiful it looks. It looks like something professionally done. One of my favorite aspects of Omeka is being able to hyperlink. I found hyperlinking very helpful when incorporating outside sources. Like I said before, it also makes the exhibit look very professional. The actual process of designing my exhibit came fairly quickly to me. I always had a fascination for social media and how the world relies on social media heavily. So I thought, how is social media used in protests and marches? Through great analysis and extensive research, I provide excellent data to support my claim that social media is good and bad when it comes to protest and activism, but we must archive it all. I thought about archiving after our in class discussion with Dr. Gail DeKosnik. She made me realize really how important archiving is, and how easy it is in everyday life, but how often it gets overlooked. To conclude, I want to talk about the importance of editing work and proofreading. To me, writing my rough draft is the easiest part about writing anything. It’s the editing that is most difficult for me. Anyway, I really hope you enjoy my exhibit. I am so happy I learned Omeka and created such a beautiful final project. Powered by WPeMatico