Framing the Material Past

In CB51: Making the Middle Ages, the teaching staff, consisting of Professor Dan Smail and TFs Rowan Dorin, Zoe Silverman, Joey McMullen, and Rena Lauer, had students choose objects and create a class gallery using Zeega in order to engage with medieval artifacts and experience the process of gallery curation.  This project built on an annotated object bibliography and an object biography that the students had previously done.


The following description comes from digital history@harvard:   

"For one of the class projects in CB51: Making the Middle Ages, each student was asked to select an object from a Harvard collection to study in greater depth. Each section then competed against the others to 'curate' the chosen objects into a coherent and compelling imaginary gallery. The students used Zeega, an online digital storytelling platform developed with the support of several Harvard partners, to visualize their galleries.The primary goals of this project were:

  1. To introduce students to the process of curating a gallery
  2. To have students consider the role of spatial and sequential groupings in shaping viewer response

Zeega was chosen because it allows viewers to pursue their own paths through the gallery within an overall structure determined by the curators, thus approximating an actual gallery experience. It is also quite user-friendly and permits images, sounds, and videos to be easily integrated into the virtual gallery. The Zeega platform proved quite popular with the students, many of whom incorporated it into the final projects for the class."


Here are the instructions from the course website:

"For this project, each student will contribute to a collective virtual gallery of objects from Harvard's collections.  During Module 1, the course staff will post a list of medieval objects available in various repositories at Harvard. Each student will then identify one or two objects of interest and inform their TF of their choice by 17 September. Collections staff will then pull the object and make it available to students.  Students will need to arrange themselves into groups of 3-5 and arrange to visit the appropriate repository before October 25.

NB: Those students working at the Sackler Museum or the HAM Repository in Somerville will also have a chance to consult the object files associated with their objects. However, the object files are often very thin, and students must anticipate this.

After writing a Tombstone [basic information] and Chat [interesting facts a curator might share] for their chosen object..., each student will then have one minute to present their object to the class during lecture on October 25.

In section, students will organize all of the class objects into separate "rooms" within a virtual "gallery" (using the Zeega platform) and also create appropriate wall texts to contextualize the objects in each room."


For the Zeega class demo, which also provides a brief description of the course modules, click here.  The assignment descriptions for the annotated bibliography and object biography are below.

assignment_1_-_guide.pdf397 KB
assignment_2_-_guide.pdf350 KB