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Investigating History: Finding Matewan

Digital Story Title:Investigating History: Finding Matewan


Brief Description:  

This story examines the Matewan Massacre as depicted in the John Sayles’ film “Matewan” in 1987. Whether its filmed footage captured on location , the film itself,  or documentary footage in conjunction with  deep archival research, this examination provides a means to provide a broad historical context of this event in West Virginia’s history.  We can then use these materials deconstruct and examine the filmed depiction of the event and compare it to Massacre itself.  By focusing on one person, Sid Hatfield, we can see that the film is not entirely accurate in its depiction of the event, but yet still is important to use film to evaluate history.

Main Goal: 

The main goal is to show that while there can be discrepancies in representation of the past, historical films offer a means to engage the viewer in examining the past to better connect with the present. A secondary goal is to provide a means to “do” history in a way that can engage in a multi-sensory, multimedia learning environment.

Intended audience: The intended audience is college level students of film and/or history.  The nature of this type of work allows for the reach to be across multiple disciplines.

Category: Final Summary  Comments off
End Credits


I was remiss in not posting this earlier- I’ll blame i t on my feverish haze last Thursday.

I’ve attached a  link that is a pdf document that shows opening and end credit formatting for a feature film, hope it helps with the DST!

See you tomorrow!


Category: Uncategorized  Comments off
Inserting images

Hey all-

 I was wondering how everyone is inserting images into your DST? are you adding effects and stuff too? I have a ton of images to add and I’m not sure how I need to do it.

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It’s Copyright, not the Boogeyman.

I’ve spent some time with this topic in various forms or another.  I liked the comic book handling of copyright, a well developed piece that explains a complex topic.

Most of my experience with copyright comes from the film business.  Television and Film companies have a process by which they must create a name of a film or use any product.  Most people in the industry use Dennis Angel, layer/copyright expert. For ten bucks he can run a full copyright report for you.  Pretty cheap considering if you do not get proper clearance it can cost a ton down the road. Not to mention the pain of having to perhaps rename your title.  So the industry does it’s due diligence to ensure that they have all rights and clearances for their piece This includes proper release forms and contracts all signed before the performer, director, camera operator lift one finger. The studios have this down to a science and it’s bang bang done.  Independent filmmakers  and floundering digital storytellers, such as myself, have it harder, much much harder.  Though it does help to know that if I need to I can drop ten bucks and get Dennis Angel, lawyer, to help me out.

Finding your way through the law is one thing, finding out who own rights is a whole other battle that can be maddening. You REALLY want your piece to get made when you start digging up copyright and trademark information on every image, musical note or prop used in your piece.

In my Administration of Archives class we talked a great deal about Copyright issues, at the time. There was a case regarding Blackboard software and fair fuse of materials. Yes, it is a grey area, one that professors have been fortunate to use through their careers- anyone remember picking up the bound printout packets from the school printer that contained copies of materials for the course? Perhaps,  I am dating myself with that, but my point is as frustrating as the law is, I do not find the law intimidating just a tangled web to negotiate on my way to crafting my Princess Lea/ Star Wars parody.

For my project I had to sing a release about the materials I copied from the West Virginia State Archives.  The first part of the form stated that I was using the material for educational purposes and will not distribute said DST without permission, the second was the proper credit I need to include at the end of my piece, I will gladly happily do that.  For my part, i have music being  donated to my piece and I’ve gotten a release form signed and ready to go. Copyright, for me is not so much the Boogeyman something on but rather on my to-do list to be aware of and dilligent in handling.

Category: W13: Copyright  Tags:  2 Comments
Finding the sweet spot

Like many of you I, too, am working towards refining and narrowing my topic idea to something that I hope will land on its feet and attain the hopes I have for it.  I’ve been lucky enough to get my research done and I have a visual idea of how I want to do this. This story came into more focus hen I did my archival research. The idea crystallized more as I worked on the storyboards and I’m hoping to parlay that imaging into moving images.

My problem is currently technological. I am struggling to get my source videos uploaded into the program so I can edit.  I’m close to getting this done and once I do the real work begins.  As I’ve mentioned in the script sessions I’ve been struggling with the notion of using voice over or no voice over,  so I find that I am thinking I will need to cut together two versions of this project. It is a trail-by-error method that unfortunately will take a huge amount of time, but I’m confident once I have the timeline set, I can give myself some options to develop the story and its elements into a digital story that is worthy if the topic.

But I have t say that I am having a ton of fun doing research and developing this idea into digital story that conveys the ideas and questions that I am investigating . Thinking about history in this way makes it fun and stretches the boundaries of conventionality that I often feel weighing me down when doing more “traditional” history.  I’m just hoping I can find the sweet spot of storytelling that engages, provokes and even entertains a little bit.

Give me interactivity or give me Death!

In an earlier post I commented on Animoto and learning and quoted Michael Wesch, this week’s readings really brought to mind the importance of an educator that moves beyond knowledge and is “knowledgeable”. Part of the trick is  to know how to use these shiny new toys to facilitate learning. In the Vector’s reading,  the “aim is to  explore the immersive and experiential dimensions of emerging scholarly vernaculars across media platforms.” I think this is where Web 2.0, scholarship and learning intersect.  It is not enough that these tools and creative means to teach through digital storytelling exist, it is incumbent upon us to take the brave step to learn, and incorporate these tools into our experience.  It challenges the traditional means of learning and teaching but by incorporating these fascinating elements into all levels of learning and scholarship.  It is exciting to think creatively about teaching and learning and the Web offers seemingly limitless possibilities.

The divide between digital writing (e-publishing) and argument is a more complex topic of discussion.  In our Clio Wired I class, Dan Cohen spent considerable time covering the idea of traditional scholarships, tenure, and writing versus e-publishing. The archived articles can be found here. I’m not sure I have a definitive answer to this question.  But I do think that there certainly is a place for consideration of digital works in evaluating professional tenure for scholars.  I have found twitter to be an interesting means to engage argument in the Web 2.0 environment.  It is a great way to facilitate communication, learning and “discussion” , even if it is 140 characters or less.

Interactivity through twitter, gaming, and digital storytelling offers  a wide variety of teaching and learning and with the ever changing landscape, it is exciting to see what’s next on the horizon.

Category: W9: Interactivity  Comments off
Final Project Topic- Matewan

My proposed project is a comparative look at the differences between a Hollywood rendering of history and a historical event through careful analysis of primary resource materials that still exist. Specifically, I plan to investigate the events surrounding the Matewan Massacre in 1921 and the 1987 film “Matewan” directed by John Sayles.

My intention is to focus on Sid Hatfield’s role as a character in the film and the actual event as a narrative thread between the film and event. But I want to avoid delving into a single character analysis and compare and contrast the event. I plan to approach this project in much the same way I would approach any research project. Though the medium is different, I plan to evaluate the this event through an analysis of the film, archival research in Charleston, West Virginia and The National Archives.

I also plan to include primary source materials such as new paper articles and the audio archives housed in Charleston  with over 100 known audio interviews. I am working to gain access to Sid Hatfield’s family records and contacts through his family members. I’m also consdering doing some research  and /or interviews in Matewan, WV as well.
I hope to investigate the these differences and whether the memory of this event changed or effected after the film was released in Matewan.

Animoto and Learning in New Media environments

Michael Wesch states ” To understand the true potentials of this “information revolution” on higher education, we need to look beyond the framework  of “information”.1

Using a tool such as this makes teaching and learning more fun, exciting and engaging.  There is a huge opportunity to develop lessons that engage Visual learning, Auditory learning, and Kinesthetic learning.  Engaging the three learning styles creates an opportunity to be more effective, and most importantly more fun! When I was in elementary school learning about Thanksgiving usually included coloring worksheets and creating an Indian headband with construction paper.  The advancement of technology and digital storytelling allows for creativity and learning to move beyond the usual status quo of Thanksgiving worksheets and crayons.  I chose to develop a video about Thanksgiving.  I wanted to juxtapose how we currently experience Thanksgiving with the past understanding of this holiday.  This is a “broad strokes” approach and I could have kept going on and on. For example, I could have just focused on the more complex issues such as the native American viewpoint of this event in history.  Animoto creates an opportunity to engage the student- at any level.  It can help an educator “redesign” the “learning environment ” as Wesch states.



Wesch, Michael. “From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments.” Academic Commons (January 7, 2009).

Category: W5: Animoto  One Comment
Murder at Harvard

The film “Murder at Harvard” discussed the process of creating the book Dead Certainties about the murder of Dr. George Parkman and trail of his accused killer Dr. John W. Webster in Boston. The book talks about more than just this event. It is a well written narrative that is a compelling read.  It is not until the end that Schama even lightly delves into the process as he does in the film. He does make some interesting points about historians and history.  He writes “historians are left forever chasing shadows, painfully aware of their inability ever to reconstruct a dead world in  its completeness, however thorough or revealing their documentation .” (320)  I think this does a nice job of describing the historians dilemma, at lest the one he describes he faced in making the film.  Schama is clear, however, in stating that this is not scholarship. “Both stories offered here play with teasing gap separating a lived event and its subsequent narration. Although both follow the documented record with some closeness, they are works of the imagination, not scholarship” (320).

When thinking about how these two works compare to one another there really is no comparison.  These are two distinct experiences.  When we discussed this in class it was petty clear that there was a self-serving element to the documentary.  The film is more about his process and how he arrived at guessing how this event occurred. I’m less annoyed by the book than I am the film.  The book certainly does not give the reader a clear idea that he’s teasing out narrative and making things up.  The film is somewhat more bothersome to me, because in away I feel manipulated.

I was accused of being somewhat narrow minded in my assessment of how “history” should be done. I want to clarify that I think is it an interesting approach to present history and it opens it up to more interesting questions.  Interesting is good and will bring in the crowds but is it history? Is there a right or wrong side to this film and book.  Do I have to pick a side? The presentation of the film certainly sheds light on the process, but more to the self-serving historian- that is what I find most disturbing.  I can find an argument of making history sexier as Schama has attempted to do here, but I’m not sure where I fall in regards to whether it is good or bad/right or wrong.

Category: W4: Murder at Harvard  Comments off

Digital storytelling uses technology and digital tools to create and share memories. In addition to other posts that details the types of digital technology and access to sharing these digital stories, DST is a way to mediate memory.

In Mediated Memories in the Digital Age, José van Dijck states that media “invariably and inherently shape our personal memories, warranting the term “mediation.” (p. 17).  The ability of media to extent beyond our immediate circles and reach beyond our localities or villages (e.g. oral traditions of storytelling) is what makes DST so exciting, compelling, and completely changes the landscape of how we experience and remember events.

DST can also replace the practice of collecting small keepsakes and mementos- though highly unlikely for a pack rat like myself. For example, I have a box of tee shirts that I’ve collected throughout my life. Two tee shirts represent winning a “Cheese Coney” hot dog eating contest two years in a row.  It is an experience that may only interest myself and those in my immediate circle of peers (such as Chris King), but these physical objects recall this memory.

DST reconstructs my memorial experience through creating a moving image enhanced with music or narration and mediates my memory into something potentially more meaningful.  If someone outside of my immediate circle watched the DST may connect with the story, or may not.  But the power and reach of  DST allows for a connection with the experience. DST is an opportunity to mediate our own life experience and memories for wide spread consumption.

(source: van Dijck, José. Mediated Memories in the Digital Age. Stanford Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2007.)