Posts Tagged With: transliteracy

Digital Storytelling

This Flickr set contains the images used in our video.

This Flickr set contains the images used in our video.




For our digital storytelling project, Laura and I decided to retell the story of Rapunzel. Our video, created using Videolicious, is Retelling Rapunzel: A Digital Storytelling Video

Our Storyboard and Bibliography are also available. The curated content collection, which expands the bibliography, is linked in the above image.

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Convergence & “Remix” Culture

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 10.41.05 AM

When I typed in “convergence culture,” the guy that kept coming up as the expert was Henry Jenkins, author of the “Confessions of an Aca-Fan” blog above. After reading up on what “convergence culture” is, I thought to myself, “why haven’t I encountered this term before?” I had encountered the idea of analyzing non-traditional texts (such as YouTube videos and other entertainment “texts”) before, but no one had ever named it for me. Now I know.

Jenkins description in his “About” of the “Aca-Fan” as “a hybrid creature which is part fan and part academic” struck a cord. In my senior thesis class as an English major, all four of us could have called ourselves “Aca-Fans.” I wrote on my favorite series, history-mystery “popular” fiction series Brother Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters. Casey wrote on The Dark Knight and the character of the Joker. Although Liz and Hannah took slightly more traditional routes (Ron Rash’s “literary” novel Serena, and Alice in Wonderland), they still chose those works in part because they enjoyed them. Discovering a term for us is vindicating of our work.

Switching gears a bit…

The above video, although not a “remix” in and of itself, relates because of the beginning. Heather Dale, the artist, behind the song “Mordred’s Lullaby,” released an mp3 album called “Perpetual Gift” last year (2012), called so because Heather gave full permission for downloaders to give the music away freely. The mp3’s were live versions of both previously released and new songs. “Mordred’s Lullaby” receives my special attention here because in the “Perpetual Gift” recording, Heather discusses the song’s popularity as the background music for “fan videos” of all sorts, saying, “I’m really thrilled that my art is inspiring their art.” Rather than clinging to her rights to the music, Heather Dale actually encourages her fans to incorporate her work into theirs, and an album like “Perpetual Gift,” which is given freely to be used freely, is a clear manifestation of that encouragement.

The below video is actually a mashup of “Mordred’s Lullaby” with the BBC series Merlin. This combination is fairly common on YouTube, but this particular one is a little unusual. The television series does not tell the same story as the song (in the song, Morgana is Mordred’s mother; in Merlin she is not), but most mashups use the characters as themselves (Arthur as Arthur, Morgana as Morgana, etc.). This one employs other characters as older versions of the main characters (for instance, Merlin‘s “Uther” is the song’s older Arthur), prompting the video creator to explain the “casting” in the About section beneath the video. As someone familiar with both Merlin and “Mordred’s Lullaby,” I needed that explanation in order for the mashup to align well enough for me to “follow” the combined story. Viewer familiarity with the sources prior to watching the video could actually have been a hindrance to understanding the mashup, one of the potential disadvantages of mashups (at least compared to a wholly “original” work).

Personally, I enjoy mashups (as long as I “get” what’s going on), so I approve of artists “approving” the use of their work in them. Artist approval (which Creative Commons licenses facilitate) really can be very much an inspiration.

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Transliteracy and Storytelling

Transliteracy: “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media…” (Thomas et al.)

The art of storytelling fascinates me. The wordcraft of the writer, the stagecraft of playwrights, the complexities of film, the deftness of a visual artist, the memory and vocal modulation of oral storytellers.

But there’s a “new” kind of storytelling occurring on the web, besides community efforts at fiction writing. There is the re-telling of old stories.

Enter The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This multimodal retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice employed YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr, giving voice to multiple characters (including, but not excluded to, Lizzie herself, Charlotte, and Lydia). The spin-off, Sanditon went even further, encouraging viewers of the YouTube videos to role-play via Twitter and their own YouTube videos, filling out the fictional town of Sanditon with “real” citizens. As testament to its brilliance, LBD won a 2013 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. LBD not only translated Pride and Prejudice into the modern world, it did so through Internet-based transliteracy.

I wonder how many LBD viewers have never read P&P. There were certainly such viewers present. So what makes LBD so much more entertaining than its progenitor that even non-readers will follow it? Maybe that transliterate storytelling makes for better stories?

Or maybe “we” just expect transliterate storytelling. The Internet generation (those of us who have been raised with technology like television, computers and video games readily available) is used to transliterate entertainment. Movies give us both visual and aural stimulation. Video games give us both of those, plus interaction. LBD and similar Internet storytelling make the stories multimodal and interactive (although with potentially less effort than a video game. Since you have to “beat the game” to move to the next part of the story in video games).

So how does a school media specialist, employing transliteracy, re-interest her (or his) students in books? One final example of Internet storytelling raises a fascinating possibility.

Pottermore. The official Harry Potter website which offers interactive scenes that go along with the book chapters, as well as opportunities to be a fictional Hogwarts student. Join a house, discover your wand, brew potions, and duel. All of these, and at the same time make friends with other HP fans from around the world. In a sense, it immerses users in the world of Harry Potter. Unlike LBD, however, Rowling intends the site to function alongside the books, encouraging site users to move through the scenes as they read the novels.

Most picture books and novels don’t have such a website (they are becoming more common though­– John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice has a similar, though less complex site). But perhaps the school media specialist can guide students in interacting with their reading. When a story takes place in another country, find that country on GoogleMaps and explore it. If the author describes an unknown plant or animal, find a picture. Older students (perhaps younger students, to a lesser extent) could create playlists that go along with favorite novels. Using Internet resources to supplement hard-copy books offers a wide range of possibilities in storytelling and retelling.

Come to think of it, transliterate storytelling along these lines would actually be a “learning experience” as well as entertainment. And that relates rather well to my essential question.

Thomas, Sue, et al. “Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.” First Monday 12, no. 12 (December 3, 2007).

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