Our Pressing Public Issues Project (by steps)

During this semester we are going to create and build a digital storytelling  project. This project will be exhibited temporarily at the James Gallery at the Graduate Center in late May-early June and, it will also have a permanent online presence. In addition, and as part of this project, we have the opportunity to work with  Ryan Seslow who will help us design some type of visual public facing arts project (make sure to check his site/work!).

For ELL 101, Introduction to Language, our starting point is going to be the linguistic landscape of Jackson Heights, Queens. For the purpose of this project, we will discover and learn about the linguistic diversity in Jackson Heights and how languages shape this public sphere. We will investigate and analyze what and how language(s) are displayed in different public spaces within this neighborhood, and how these displays inform us about social, political, and identity issues. Our digital storytelling is going to have two (2) components:

  • a digital/visual component (public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, among other public signs)
  • and an audio/oral history component (interviews, music, background conversations).

You will be exploring and researching the neighborhood, talking to people, taking pictures, working with images, and so on. I know this freedom could may be intimidating, but we will make decisions along the way in order to shape this project and decide how the final product is going to look like.

In order to train ourselves in the digital and oral history components needed for this digital storytelling, we experiment with conducting a similar project our LaGuardia Community as a pilot. We will get to know each other and learn about our linguistic backgrounds and how our language/linguistic practices impact our lives and daily spaces. We will also research and examine the linguistic landscape of LaGuardia as an institution. Once that we have familiarized ourselves with the basic skills and techniques for this project, we will conduct our storytelling project in Jackson Heights.