Surf, Chat, Share: Digital Storytelling and Indigenous New Media

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Sophie McCall, Department of English

Project team: Deanna Reder, First Nations Studies/Department of English, David Gaertner, First Nation Studies/Critical Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia, and Tamara Hansen, research assistant

Timeframe: June 2018 to January 2020

Funding: $12,000 (Two-phase project)

Course addressed: English 844 – Studies in Aboriginal Literature

Description: Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island, published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2017, is the first critical reader of Indigenous literature that spans “Turtle Island” or North America, including Canada, the US, and Mexico. The goal of the reader is to transform literary method in the field of critical Indigenous literary studies. Firmly grounded in Indigenous research methods, the book explores core concepts at the heart of Indigenous literary criticism, such as the relations between land, language, identity and community; the variety of narrative forms in Indigenous literature; and the continuities between oral and written forms of expression.

For this project, we plan to build a website that contains examples of Indigenous New Media and Digital Storytelling, Indigenous Literature Guides, additional resources for students, and pedagogical material for teachers to accompany Read, Listen, Tell. The book is designed for teaching first and second year Indigenous literature courses, using literary methods that build on and extend two decades of scholarly work to centre Indigenous knowledges, perspectives, and approaches in the field of Indigenous literary studies. The website will help students grapple with these questions in self-reflexive and exploratory ways. Thus the website will contain innovative pedagogical features, including suggestions for research projects, discussion questions, personal reflection prompts, and low-stakes writing questions. An important part of the website is videos of author interviews. These interviews bring the voices and perspectives of the Indigenous writers into the classroom. These interviews will be accompanied by questions that link the interviews to the authors’ stories, and help the students understand the personal and social contexts surrounding the stories. These highly interactive and widely appealing materials are meant for students to explore, write about, and research further.

Questions addressed:

  • Is the website usable and easily navigated?
  • What do students think about the usefulness and quality of the various resources made available on the website?
  • What is the potential of the website for centreing Indigenous knowledges, perspectives, and approaches in the field of Indigenous literary studies?
  • How can the materials, interviews, and discussion questions encourage students to self-reflect on their own positions and points of views?

Knowledge sharing: The website will be published through Wilfrid Laurier University Press’ online site. In addition, I will facilitate a discussion of how the website and Indigenous Literature Guides can supplement classroom learning and present my plans for the website at a lunch time or late afternoon presentation in my department.

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