Lauren Alleyne speaks at the project showcase A student shares her experience of the project Joanne Gabbin speaking at the project showcase Innovating the Arts

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Innovating the Arts: Sophomore Studio

The Show Must Go On

In the midst of a pandemic that requires little to no physical contact, how do you modify theater productions, adapt to new, limited settings, and share performances with a public who can’t be in front of the stage?

In partnership with JMU X-Labs, students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts merge theater with technology to create virtual settings and performances. This semester the Sophomore Seminar will develop innovative solutions and design virtual spaces and interactions to make theater more accessible in response to a changing world.


Innovating the Arts: Furious Flower

The Furious Flower Digital Archive prototype is a result of the Innovating the Arts: Furious Flower classroom-based digital humanities (DH) project supported by JMU X-Labs. The class that built the prototype included five faculty and a total of 33 undergraduate students from English, Education, Graphic Design, and Writing Studies. The website showcases the entire proceedings of the first Furious Flower conference in 1994, the first and one of the most prestigious conferences dedicated to Black poetry in the world, supplementing video and other archival materials from the conference with interpretive and educational media designed by the class. The archive prototype is a responsive website built on WordPress utilizing the Foundation front-end framework.

The final site has a style sheet with

  • 2,967 lines of handwritten code
  • 95 unique web pages

Content developed for the site includes

  • 529 transcribed video clips (approximately 55 hours of video)
  • Student-written biographies of 41 poets and eight critics
  • Interactive content such as a timeline that links poems to 21 historical events
  • An interactive version of the original conference program with embedded video
  • An education portal leads to student and teacher resources that includes nine lesson plans aligned with reading, writing, and language Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts and the Virginia Standards of Learning.

The prototype was designed with three goals in mind: 

  1. To help Furious Flower envision the possibilities of a digital archive
  2. To attract potential funders
  3. To accomplish these first two tasks in a way that fulfilled a central part of its mission as a center: to teach students the love of Black poetry.

The prototype gave the Furious Flower Poetry Center tangible evidence of the future archive’s potential, while also demonstrating the pedagogical and methodological value of engaging undergraduates in DH. It was fitting that the prototype had its official unveiling at the Furious Flower 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2019. 

Fall 2020

Innovating the Arts
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