Creation

Giving Voice grew out of a Public Humanities graduate course offered by the English department of the University of Rhode Island in Spring 2017.
This project was made possible through collaboration with Syamantakshobhan Basu of Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India and a grant from the URI Center for the Humanities.
It was created and produced by Catherine Winters.

The goal of Giving Voice is to bring The Lowland to life in its settings and offer greater insight through the combination of physical location and narrated passages.

From the original grant application: “The diversity of lived experiences at URI, such as Gauri’s, are often inaccessible to the majority of the campus community. With growing unease and distrust of immigrants and minorities across the U.S. today, projects to cultivate empathy seem more important than ever. The walk throughout campus while listening to the voice of another will allow participants to consider how their perspective is not shared by all and offer the chance to empathize and create a place for the people like Gauri at URI.”

Giving Voice began with just the portion at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus. After a grant was secured from the Center for the Humanities, Dr. Ryan Trimm helped me find a collaborator in Kolkata, India:  Syamantakshobhan Basu of Jadavpur University. With the help of Syamantak., it was possible to map locations in Kolkata to offer a companion tour. 

The tour was originally created to be hosted on GeoTourist, after weighing different delivery options. This offered an app, without requiring building a one-time use application, as well as web access.

After the passages were identified by re-reading the text and marking excerpts that had a clear link to a location, gave a sense of Guari’s emotional state, and offered some idea of the plot, a route was created. There was also research into the history, including historical maps, to make sure that the locations mentioned could be tied to current buildings.

Audio was then recorded using the Recording/Audio Lab at URI and images were found in Distinctive Collections at Robert L. Carothers Library, URI. Once the materials were gathered, everything was uploaded to GeoTourist for the initial kick-off.

After this, surveys were collected from about 150 undergraduate students and used to improve the tours. This website is also the result of such surveys, as students frequently noted that the wifi at URI did not work well with the app.

You can read a presentation Catherine gave as part of the Library Faculty Development Series at URI.

If you would like to get in touch about this project, please email at winters_ca@uri.edu