Jessica: Final Reflections

I knew what I wanted my exhibit to be about on the first day of class. As we were going through the syllabus, I saw that we would be creating an exhibit about whatever aspect of the Women’s March interested us. As I do with most of my class projects, I immediately thought of ways that I could focus on clothing or costumes. From that class forward, I kept a word document with ideas and relevant quotes that came up throughout the semester. The questions that drove me from the beginning were: “What do you wear to a protest? Who does or doesn’t display their messages on their body? What do those messages convey?” Over the last few months, those questions have evolved into the finished exhibit “What They Wore.” Our class did a successful job of walking us through all the necessary steps for me to go from an idea about protest clothing to a finished online exhibit with oral histories to back it up. The beginning of the semester was a little slow, as we mostly focused on academic articles about archives and oral histories. While it was important that we gained the background about these methods of gathering and storing information, it became slightly repetitive. The best part of our course was being so hands on; we got to work on our projects and discuss them in class. This was possible due to our small class size, but I think that we lost out on scope because there were only five of us. I wish that we could have focused more on protest on Muhlenberg’s campus, because it more directly relevant to a Muhlenberg-based archive. While we were aware that our oral history subjects were not very diverse, we did not have enough time to conduct more interviews with a wider range of narrators.

I leave this class wondering if our research will be used in the future. Maybe if our archive is advertised widely with the rest of Muhlenberg’s online archive, students and faculty will start using it as a resource for research. When I personally start research, I do it through the subject guides that are linked on the library’s website, instead of on the actual library’s website. I don’t know how many studies will be done on specifically the Women’s March of 2017, but hopefully all the effort that we put into learning these processes and compiling our work will be useful to others. I enjoyed the oral history aspect of this project, but I still feel it is slightly outdated. Even though we read articles about how important these recordings are, I still have that small part of my brain that thinks of them as an old-fashioned way to collect information. I need to work to counteract these thoughts, because I appreciate that they can give those without a platform a way to be heard and remembered. In general, I am glad to be leaving my exhibit behind when I graduate, because it is a project I wouldn’t have expected of myself, since it came from a Media and Communications course instead of a Theatre one.

 

Jessica: Omeka Reflections

Over the course of the semester, I have become more comfortable using different platforms online. We learned how to use WordPress to make this blog, so I became comfortable navigating that setup in order to make posts. I have struggled the most in formatting in WordPress, especially as I also am trying to make an online portfolio with the main page of my website. In comparison, Omeka is slightly more straightforward because there are fewer options for theme. I like that when adding a block of text or an item, it gives you a few options about how to orient that section. Also, I have not had to deal with picking a theme and formatting it, because we picked one that runs across all pages for our class. The hardest part about Omeka is uploading items. It is a time consuming process to figure out and input as much metadata as possible, and I still don’t feel like I got a complete grasp on Dublin Core’s categories. However, I am comfortable with a few categories, because they do not change from item to item or are straightforward, like repository and creator. Another small obstacle is the glitch we have had with photos uploading sideways. It therefore becomes a more time consuming process to use those items, because we have to reformat the image so that it stays in its correct orientation. The biggest obstacle I had when creating my exhibit did not have to do with Omeka at all. It was my schedule. The show that I was costume designing went into tech as we were working on this project, and then I had a final due first that took precedence. Therefore I have had a hard time working on my exhibit outside of class. Now that both of those things are done (and that the due date was pushed back), I will have more time to focus on making my exhibit the best that it can be.