UNC Buildings and the Names They Bear: The Big Picture

Fifty-fve percent (55%) of your graded work for this course will entail working as part of a class “team of the whole” to build an experimental new, online interpretive exhibit related to the ongoing conversation at Carolina about how history is represented on our campus landscape.

The subject of our exhibit will be UNC Buildings and the Names They Bear: The Big Picture.  We’ll pick up the campus conversation that has been going on about Saunders/Carolina Hall and expand it to look at the larger landscape of the histories encoded in the names of buildings across the campus.  I see this as an effort to contribute to the larger project of “contextualizing” and creating educational materials about our campus buildings and monuments.

This page provides an overview of the UNC Campus Buildings project, but the specific instructions and links to templates, forms, and other building blocks of our work will be linked from our main class Trello board we’ll be using to keep track of all of the moving pieces of the class work and this large undertaking.

What We’re Building

We are basically building an interpretive website that has conventional narrative pages as well as a “visualization” component that will let us see larger patterns in the commemorative landscape of building names at UNC.  The visualization will invite users to explore primary sources — documents, images, newspaper articles, etc. — related to the history of each building and its namesake.

We are going to build our exhibit in a WordPress environment, using a tool, DH Press, (soon to be renamed Prospect, with a new version released) created by Carolina’s Digital Innovation Lab, to create the embedded visualization of parts of our narrative.  In the process, we be working our way through the process of turning historical evidence, digitized materials, and stories into “data” that can be well represented in a spatial/digital interpretive environment.

For this be successful, we’ll have to work together to identify what’s important in the stories we want to tell and how we would like to organize the information behind them.   What items that we’ve discovered will be interesting for our publics to see, too?  How would we like our our visitors to navigate the materials? How should the final interface look?  Ideally, we’ll move from idea to full-fledged digital public history exhibit in just 14 weeks!

For an example of what we are headed towards, see the Fall 2013 History 671 WordPress/ DH Press project, The Unbuilt Blue Ridge Parkway.

The final project website will be debuted in a public forum in Wilson Library during our final exam hour on Monday, December 7, 2015.

How We’re Working

We’ll be working as a group of the whole, with each person having responsibility for discrete pieces of the project built around (probably) two buildings — one “primary” and one “secondary” — chosen from a list of about thirty (30) that our RA, Charlotte Fryar, and I have selected.  You’ll do deep research and develop a long (approximately 2500 word) historical narrative about your primary building, while gathering more limited information about your secondary one.

We are fortunate this fall to have Charlotte with us as the project coordinator.  She is a graduate student in American Studies who as part of her digital humanities certificate will be doing some additional project work behind the scenes to get our underlying project infrastructure in place.

As noted above, we’ll be using our Trello board to keep the project tasks organized.  But below you will find a general schedule of deadlines.

**Please note (8/30/2015): Research resources collected to help you get started on the project are all linked from the Project Instructions and Resources card on the left side of our Trello Master Board for the class.  These include:

Graded Components and Deadlines

We will be having a project meeting during every class period.  Sometimes this will involve some advance reading that we will discuss, an in-class activity or tutorial,  a guest speaker, and, on five occasions prior to Fall Break, direct reports from you on your own research progress.  The graded research reports will be calculated 80% on your own report and 20% on your in-class contributions to making suggestions for other students’ work as we discuss the reports in class.

More detail on what is to be done at each of these points will be forthcoming.

  • September 9:  Research Report — Focus on Basic Building Stats and Facts;  Promising Resources for Both Buildings (5%)
  • September 16:  Research Report— Focus on Building Origins, Construction, Naming Moment  (5%)
  • September 23: Research Report — Focus on Significant Uses, Transitions, Controversies (5%)
  • September 30: Research Report — Focus on Person Named For  (5%)
  • October 7:  Formal Research Summary (10%)
  • October 21:  Main Building 2500-Word Narrative Draft Due (10%)
  • November 11 October 28: First Round Data Entry (Buildings) Due (5%)
  • [Added 10/7] November 4: Second Round Data Entry (People) Due (5%)
  • December 2: Final Data Entry Final Project Narrative Due (5%)
  • December 7: Final Exam Portion (Public Presentation & Reflection; worth 15%, over and above the 55% included in the components above)


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