Digital Pedagogy: Omeka Medieval London
 

Title

Digital Medievalist article on Omeka and the Medieval Object Report Assignment

Disciplines

Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Architectural History and Criticism | Digital Humanities | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Medieval History | Medieval Studies

Abstract

This article discusses how digital projects can be employed to encourage undergraduates to think across disciplinary divides, to integrate field and online research, and to confront methodological issues in a more direct way. One of these projects draws on an open-source, web-publishing platform called Omeka and was designed for an interdisciplinary course on the archaeology and history of medieval London offered at Fordham University’s London Centre. The project aimed to give students first-hand experience with the material culture of a medieval city and consisted of two parts. The first, an Object Report, required each student to research and write a short essay on a single medieval object on display at the Museum of London, highlighting the significance of the object within the context of civic, religious, and domestic life in medieval London. In addition, students uploaded images and found illustrations of their objects in medieval manuscripts. The second part, a Site Report, required a visit to a medieval London location– a church, a monastery, or cemetery, for example– to research its significance in the middle ages. Students also uploaded images of their site, which they photographed themselves, and identified the site’s location on a (preferably medieval) map of London. Another similar project was designed using the Weebly web-editing platform for students taking Western Tradition I at Marymount California University, which does not have access to Omeka. Both the Omeka and Weebly projects allowed students to grapple with larger questions about integrating material objects into pre-modern history, but they were especially valuable for teaching students about the importance of being a responsible researcher since students contributed to a digital humanities project that made their research available to a wide public.

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