MMLC News

Telling Refugee Stories

Project Profile: Notunterkunft

Last spring a group of twelve Weinberg students traveled to a refugee shelter in Berlin to conduct research at the Notunterkunft Wilmersdorf, a World War II-era government building repurposed to accommodate the influx of displaced families from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. The students were enrolled in an advanced German course taught by Franziska Lys, who challenged them to inquire into lives almost unimaginably different than their own.

“Students need to know about diversity all over the world,” Lys said. “They need to understand their own backyard, but they need to contribute to that diversity in a more global sense.” Students interviewed refugees in German, English and Arabic. They also volunteered at the shelter, assisting with childcare and custodial chores.

One compelling outcome of that experience is Notunterkunft, a bilingual collection of digital stories, which Lys and her students assembled in collaboration with the Media and Design Studio. These stories are derived from a combination of interviews and immersion research, and take multiple forms that go beyond the page. Students crafted essays enhanced with sound and image, short documentaries, even a collection of plays.

What these stories depict is, at times, harrowing.

In a graphic memoir by Courtney Chatterton, a Syrian child regards a sturdy structure made of Legos as something invariably ruined, with lives cut short. Yet the Notunterkunft project is not without some room for hope. In a podcast produced by Maya Daiter, entitled “A New Life,” we meet Hayat, a Syrian woman expecting her first child. As she receives prenatal care at the shelter, there is no mistaking her determination to build a better life.

To realize this multiform digital project, the Media and Design Studio supplied equipment for students to document their experiences, including field recorders, lights, cameras and other gear. We also sent our instructional technologist, Cecile-Anne Sison, to Berlin, to provide project-specific training and logistical support. Cecile shot and produced this video, which, in addition to serving as a mosaic of student experiences at the Notunterkunft, rather wonderfully complicates one’s definition of the word refugee. Lastly, MAD Studio developer Sergei Kalugin conceived and developed the Notunterkunft website with assistance from Lys and her students, ultimately delivering a sensory-rich and intellectually rewarding record of this era-defining story.

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Write-On Surfaces in the MAD Studio

Many of you know that both you and your students can reserve small meeting spaces in the Studio for tutoring, group study, or team meetings. But did you know that you can now write on most of the wall surfaces?  Over break, we painted several walls with “Activity Paint.” These vast writing surfaces allow for highly creative and collaborative diagrams, think maps, grammar explanations, or any other impromptu drawing. For those who don’t have dry erase markers handy, we offer them for check-out at the front desk.

MMLC’s New Student Employees

The MMLC’s student employees currently occupy positions from lab aide to developer. Some have a knowledge of the equipment and how it runs, while others use their knowledge of coding to develop projects going on within the MMLC. Cecile-Anne Sison, who hires most of the MMLC student employees, explains how the center integrates this youth in the workplace. Full Post

MMLC Welcomes Visitors to Open House

With the start of a new year comes the advent of new technology, or in the case of the MMLC, new facilities. The MMLC recently held an open house, debuting its range of technology and new collaborative spaces. With nearly 100 people in attendance, the MMLC staff welcomed faculty from varying departments, some MMLC student alumni and the Dean of Weinberg himself, Adrian Randolph, to explore its new space in Kresge Hall. Full Post

Excitement About our Move

As the Spring 2016 term closes, we celebrate another great year of creative and scholarly pursuits by our team, the faculty who call upon us, and, most of all, the students whose classes and projects often take shape in our labs and studios, including:

  • Developing a virtual walking tour of Ancient Rome in Chicagoincluding in-depth video explorations of various sites
  • Learning how to research and author online maps to chart Shakespeare’s Circuits around the globe
  • Honing skills to ‘write’ audio essays, including one on Tom Dooley which won the History Department’s annual Joseph Barton Essay Award
  • Adding 84 new entries to the WildWords dictionary
  • Taking one of the 1,965 online language placement tests processed this year
  • Being in a group of 597 fellow students who perfected and evaluated their language pronunciation using DiLL in our computer classrooms

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Students Produce Virtual Walking Tour of Ancient Rome in Chicago

Students of a recent course taught by Classics Professor Francesca Tataranni titled “Ancient Rome in Chicago” have completed an impressive virtual walking tour that explores how the city showcases its engagement with the classical past through its streets, buildings, and monuments.

A student-produced virtual walking tour highlights ways in which the classical world is memorialized in Chicago. The virtual tour uses StoryMapJS from the Northwestern University Knight Lab.

The 300-level research seminar course was designed to allow students to take ownership of their learning through knowledge creation, and to explore the nature of the humanities in the digital age. Full Post

One Stop for Media Requests

Starting this fall, all media requests can be made via a single Course Reserve form that can be found within Canvas. Prior to this change, certain types of requests needed to be sent separately to either the Library or the MMLC, causing confusion.

Through a new streamlined process, completed Course Reserve requests are first sent to the Library, where they are carefully reviewed and then fulfilled by the Library or forwarded to the MMLC based on the keywords and information found in the request.

For every request, streaming video is made available to students through the new Library Media tool within Canvas. This tool is replacing both the old video streaming systems of the Library and the MMLC. Faculty still using older URL links to video and audio items should expect these links to stop working and plan to use the Course Reserve form to request new versions of the items.

A notable difference with the new Library Media tool is that access to the reserve items are made accessible only for the duration of the current course and term. Previously, course reserve links worked indefinitely. Now, each quarter, faculty must explicitly request media items again using the Course Reserve system.
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Open Door Archive Launches

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.06.50 AMThe MMLC is pleased to announce the launch of the Open Door Archive, an exciting new digital repository of poetry and print culture in and beyond the United States. The project is led by Northwestern English Professor Harris Feinsod, working with a large collaborative a large team of scholars, poets, librarians, students, and technologists.

Development of The Open Door Archive follows earlier planning and prototyping made possible by the Arthur Vining Davis Digital Humanities Summer Faculty Workshop, co-organized by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, University Library, and the Weinberg College during the summer of 2014.

John Bresland to Serve as Interim Director in 2015-2016

Starting in September 2015, MMLC Director Katrin Völkner will begin a one-year sabbatical leave in Germany. John Bresland from the Department of English, a frequent MMLC faculty collaborator and leader in the field of video essay, will serve as Interim Faculty Director during Winter and Spring Quarters.

While we wait to welcome John into this exciting new role, I will remain the acting head of the unit. Please continue to email me, Matthew Taylor, via email with any inquiries. I welcome your thoughts and input on the MMLC and look forward to joining everyone for the start of another great academic year.