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.

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Painting Anthropology

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Digital Story Summary

Digital Story Title: “Disputed Ground: Protest, Public Space, and the Birth of the World Trade Center”

Brief description:

This film documents public demonstrations and public events in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s leading up to the construction of the World Trade Center and during the buildings’ early history.  Small business owners publicly rallied against the Port Authority’s plans to seize and demolish their commercial property, while construction unions demonstrated in support of the building project and the job opportunities it represented.  The surrounding neighborhood became a site for protests for and against the Vietnam War.  Environmentalists documented and criticized the buildings’ waste management and energy consumption.  After construction was completed, fantastic stunts performed on and between the Twin Towers revealed that World Trade Center had finally been accepted and even cherished by the general public.

Main goal(s):

I am pleased to share the fascinating events surrounding the building of the World Trade Center.  More importantly, though, I want viewers to think about modes of political expression when they watch my film.  I want them to consider how political and artistic statements can be performed.  Multiple debates and various opinions were expressed not just in City Hall or a voting booth.  They also took place on streets and in a publicly funded construction site, and even, literally, between the Twin Towers themselves.  Photographs of the Trade Center and its surrounding area presented another opportunity to claim a public site for political and artistic expression.

Intended Audience:

My intended audience is a general, college-educated audience.  The film is most accessible to historians (anyone with a background in college-level history).  There is little discussion of the greater political, economic, and social issues at play in the story (urban renewal, the Vietnam War, etc.).  Those topics are the context and subtext, and viewers will get the most out of the film if they are already familiar with them.  More importantly, I focus not on major events but on a more abstract theme.  Viewers with a liberal arts background are more likely to be familiar with concepts like the “public sphere” or “discourse;” these are concepts that have shaped my thinking during the film’s production.  However, the film avoids using such dense jargon to expedite the narrative.

A general audience may enjoy the film.  As stated, it is free of theoretical jargon or excessive detail, so most educated viewers could view the film and understand its essential message.  Many of these viewers may take interest in the film simply because it relates to the World Trade Center.  Most college-educated viewers will recall living through the events of 9/11 and want to understand how the World Trade Center became so prized by the public.  (This connection may not be as strong for younger viewers under college age.)

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Summary for Janes

Digital Story Title:

“Northern Virginia: A History of Changes by Those Who Call It Home”

Brief description:

Northern Virginia has grown and changed tremendously in the past 50 years.  The region morphed from being just a rural suburb of Washington DC into a dense and economically independent region in a relatively short amount of time.  This project explores the changes that have occurred, including population growth, transportation, and economic changes, through the words of long-time residents.  These residents have witnessed first-hand the dramatic changes that have taken place, and through their words this project demonstrates the recent history of change that defines today’s Northern Virginia.

Main goal(s):

Having just moved to the Northern Virginia area in September, I was instantly struck by the density of the region.  Looking into this defining factor of the area, I found that this population growth had really only occurred in the past 50 years or so.  Once just a suburb of Washington DC area, Northern Virginia now holds its own in terms of population, economics, and character.  I wanted to explore the reasons behind the change by finding long-term residents that could give me first-hand accounts of the changes that they experienced.

As an “outsider” to the region, I wanted to avoid telling this story through my own perceptions of the region.  Therefore, my project is narrated entirely by long-time residents, whose experiences with the region are far more compelling than my own.  I want this story to resonate with the people that have lived through the changes, but also with shorter-term residents who found Northern Virginia to be a desirable place to live.

In addition to presenting a historical change, I also want to be able to show how “normal” people can be invaluable resources in presenting public history by compiling a digital story that is almost entirely oral history based.  So often we look to the so-called experts as our authority on history, but I find that in the case of something like regional growth the actual residents living through the changes can actually tell us more.

Who is your intended audience?

People interested in local history; meant to present oral history for popular use of local history.

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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!


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Final Summary

Digital Storytelling
CTCH 792/HIST 615

Summary Form
Due: April 1

Digital Story Title:

Understanding Sonata Form: A Case Study

Brief description:

Using musical excerpts, live performance, interactive components, and comedic dialogue, this video explores sonata form using the first movement of Dittersdorf’s “Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra in E Major” as a case study.

Main goal(s):

Encouraging active listening, interpretive imagination, and an understanding of sonata form, one of the most ubiquitous classical forms of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Who is your intended audience? (e.g., colleagues, historians, art historians, the general public, high school history students, middle school music students, art students. . . )

My intended audience is uninitiated classical music listeners over the age of 14.

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Final Summary

Digital Story Title:
Painting Anthropology: An archaeological dig into the working mind of a painter.

Brief description:
This video is an attempt to establish a visual link between the artist and the viewer into the working mind of a studio painter.  The research for this project includes:

  • A three week documentary session in the studio of a working painter
  • Neurasthetics (art as an extension of the functions of the brain) in order to explain and understand the aesthetic experiences of how the artist formulates her synesthetic imagery.
  • Synesthesia is (the intercorrelation of the four modes of human consciousness: thought, intuition, emotion, and sensation) is explained throughout the video as it unfolds in the imagery.
  • Teaching methods in the new millennium
  • Art 21 Blog

Main goal(s):

The goal of this video is to show the viewer how the artist synesthetically creates imagery in her work by establishing metaphorical (a thought about a thought) links between earth objects (pods, leaves. seeds) and situations in the her life using color, sound, and visual imagery.

Intended Audience

My intended audience is colleagues, historians, art historians, and the general public, high school history students, middle school music students, art students and anyone interested in art and how it is made.

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Credits Help

Anyone have any tips for credits?  Movie Maker credits are not very sophisticated.  I’m confidant I can figure something out using Photoshop and Photo Story, but I just wanted to ask around before I got my hands dirty.

Images & Voice

As we wind up (or down?) our projects I found two things some of you might find helpful: one is that for PC folks, there are some quality voice-changer software that’s free (as a Mac user, I was bummed). Not that you need to change your voice to Darth Vader or Marge Simpson, but sometimes a tweak or two can improve the narration quality.

The other was courtesy of George Oberlie (PhD student of History, who also works with the Library)–our GMU Library Online Databases contains a database called AP Images, which we have access to use freely for educational purposes. It was a godsend! Made finding images so much easier. The link will shoot you to the exact page and just scroll down.

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Free webspace

Can someone please tell me the two websites we mentioned in class that has free webspace?