Beacause I will have limited internet access this week, I am posting these a little early. Here are my three project descriptions and in the spirit of “getting real” they are fairly short and reasonably modest in scope (I hope).
Idea #1: Mapping for Humanists
One of the most attractive types of project for humanists interested in experimenting with digital tools is mapping. The software is readily available (the Graduate Center and other CUNY schools provide institutional access to ArcGIS and there is an open source version as well) and the end product is has clear use as a research or teaching tool. There is a workshop in the CUNY system on the workings of ArcGIS but it assumes that the mapper will be working from existing data files, like census information. However, most humanists are working from information that does not already exist in appropriate file formats, if it available electronically at all. I propose to present a mapping workshop for graduate students in the humanities who have little or no experience with GIS software. The workshop would cover how to identify the kind of information that is map-able, how to get that information into a format that GIS software can use, and turning that information into a basic map.
Idea #2: The CUNY Graduate Center Theatre Project
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, in association with the Theatre Department at the Graduate Center, maintains a database of around 10,000 image of theatre for educational use. The database is a great resource for theatre students but even within the department not everyone knows about it, and few actively use it. The site was recently changed over to Omeka, making it a lot more functional, which provides a good opportunity to revisit what it can do and be for GC theatre students. My proposal would be to survey student use of the database, and also investigate what the Segal Center and the professor overseeing the collection would optimally like to see from it. Ideally this would lead to one or more strategies to increase student use and/or improve usability that I could implement.
Idea #3: Technology in Introductory Level Theatre Courses at CUNY
In her article on mediated performance in theatre studies Sarah Bay-Cheng highlights the need to consider how recorded performances are used to teach theatre. [Bay-Cheng, Sarah. “Theatre Squared: Theatre History in the Age of Media.” Theatre topics 17.1 (2007): 37-50. Project Muse. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.] I would go further to suggest that beyond recordings of performances, there are other technological tools that have made their way into the theatre studies classroom that have not received much scrutiny in terms of the way that they work pedagogically. To address this, my project would begin with a survey of instructors of introductory level theatre classes in the CUNY system (these would be the 1000-level courses or equivalent that fulfill the Creative Expression requirement of the core curriculum) to find out what technologies are in use and how they are being used. This would be followed by 2-3 more in-depth case studies which would entail discussion with the instructor and classroom visits. The resulting paper would record the general habits of CUNY instructors of introductory level theatre courses with regard to technology use, and evaluate the effectiveness of a select number of tools as defined by a yet-to-be-determined rubric.