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April 11, 2008


Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color
AFRO 3910 , Section 002
Topics in African American and African Studies
GWSS 3390, Section 001
Topics: Visual, Cultural, and Literary Studies
Co-taught by Professor Walt Jacobs and Rachel Raimist

Course Description:
Storytelling is a tool for preserving memory, writing history, learning, entertaining, organizing, and healing in communities of color. It is in the telling of stories that communities build identities, construct meaning, and make connections with others and the world. In this course, we will investigate modes and power dimensions of digital storytelling, analyze the role of digitized media as a method of individual healing, and examine media as tools for community organizing and development. We will explore media making, creative writing, and memoir in both literary and digital writing, and examine the gendered, racialized, and classed dimensions of digital storytelling. We will create projects to tell our stories, examine our social ghosts, and work with community members as part of the 40th Anniversary of the African American and African Studies Department to develop digital stories about Twin Cities communities of color. Students will learn to produce creative work (writing, video, photography, sound and artwork) and gain technical proficiency in Mac-based editing. Students will produce photographic and video work that will be shared on the course blog. No technical expertise is necessary!

In this course, students will:
• Gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical issues of digital media-based storytelling in communities of color
• Analyze the ethical and moral dimensions inherent in representing the lives of others; discuss gendered, colonial, and ethnographic gazes
• Consider the impact of digital tools, methodology, and content of digital stories on individuals, community, and social justice movements
• Gain a firm grounding in basic digital media production tools; develop skills with tools of technology (hardware and software)
• Understand the concepts and methodologies of media making, visual literacy, photographic composition, and principles of video editing
• Demonstrate creativity, analytical thinking, and technical skill in digital storytelling

Main learning activities:
• In class screenings, hands-on lab workshops, and discussions
• Short response posts on course blog
• Short analytical response papers
• Creative exercises in digital photography, video, and storytelling
• Final paper/creative project

Selected Course Texts:
Capturing Lives, Creating Communities (Joe Lambert)
Ghostbox: A Memoir (Walter R. Jacobs), and selections from various texts: Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions (Michelle Citron), Reframings: New American Feminist Photography, If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory and Social Activism (a project by Martha Rosler, edited by Brian Wallis), and the Digital Storytelling Cookbook.
We will also examine various websites: Third World Majority, SilenceSpeaks, Capture Wales, Photobus, and others.

Here are some examples of digital stories:

"Decolonizing Black Women's Bodies Desired/Desiring Ourselves"

by Mireille Miller-Young, PhD, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Made as part of her course "Black Feminist Multimedia", this short video is about the problematics of desiring ourselves, once, as women of color our bodies have already been colonized. How can we decolonize our bodies and still engage them in the pursuit of self-authored desire, pleasure, and representation?

"Pieces (Bling Bling) / Freetown v. Cash Money"

words by Kahlil Amustafa, edited by Eli Eli Jacobs- Fantauzzi