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Remixing great words with new power

For quite some time I’ve been thinking about the power of remixing to inspire new understandings of great speeches and documents, of giving learners opportunities for creatively reinterpreting great works and ideas in modern contexts.

Our Hamlet Remixed (VoiceThread) project was highly successful.  But this morning I was completely blown away by Adam Gault’s remix of the Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.  (Design and animation by Adam Gault and Stefanie Augustine. Sound design by Chris Villepigue.  Additional animation by Carlo Vega.)

While a production of this professional quality may not possible for every student, it serves to demonstrate how we might rethink our teaching and project around great works and primary sources.  We have what seems like a limitless supply of remixing and digital storytelling tools.

What if Susan B. Anthony had Final Cut Pro to share her passion On Women’s Right to Vote?  What if Patrick Henry had GarageBand to convey his powerful Give Me Liberty or Give me Death?  What if Chief Tecumseh could share his distrust of a people who believed their could sell a country (“Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?”) using any of the scores of powerful new digital storytelling tools?  How would it look?  Would the remixes reach new audiences?  Would they evoke greater understanding and empathy?

(Note:  Adam Gault’s production truly puts to shame my own old remix of Gettysburg, inspired by the Peter Norvig’s parody Gettysburg Address PowerPoint,  which aimed to expose how presenters were using the tool and losing any beauty and power in their rhetoric.)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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