VideoPoetry: Integrating Video, Poetry and History in the Classroom

By James Armstrong, Peter Lutze and Laura Woodworth-Ney.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

VideoPoetry integrates video and poetry to explore historical or geographic subjects. VideoPoetry is both a process and a product. This paper will use a short VideoPoem, “Mary Hallock Foote at Stone House,” to demonstrate how students of all educational levels can become engaged in creating VideoPoetry. Each VideoPoem offers students a cross-disciplinary experience that involves research, analysis of information, imaginative writing and video composition leading to a classroom presentation of the final product.

As a process VideoPoetry requires the investigation of a subject, in this case, Mary Hallock Foote, artist and illustrator of the Western United States. Based on the historical research including her published reminiscences, one of the authors wrote a narrative poem imagining Foote’s reflections on her life at Stone House. The poem evoked mental images which we brought into the video through historical photographs, Foote’s woodblock drawings and present-day video footage of the landscape. Spoken by a woman narrator, the poem along with appropriate sound effects became the soundtrack and structuring element for the VideoPoem. Preceding the VideoPoem is an introduction which uses an objective voice to establish the historical context. As a product, this VideoPoem expresses an interpretation of the life and thoughts of an historical person and the place where she lived. The pictures both illustrate the poem and extend its evocative quality.

As such “Mary Hallock Foote at Stone House” is an example of Imaginative Writing, an instructional strategy that encourages students to use their imaginations to create valid contexts in which historical figures lived and acted. For viewers, VideoPoetry conveys both historical information and a sense of what it was like to live in another era. VideoPoetry expands the possibilities of studying history by providing a multi-media and multi-sensory experience.

Keywords: Digital Media Arts and Education, Creative Arts in the Humanities, Video, Poetry, Cross-disciplinary Projects, Interdisciplinary Projects

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp.53-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.343MB).

Dr. James Armstrong

Professor, College of Education, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA

Jamie Armstrong is a professor in the Department of Literacy at Boise State University where he teaches courses in reading education as well as reading and study strategies. He has written two textbooks, Reading Tools for College Study and Patterns and Connections, and two books of poetry, Landscapes of Epiphany and Moon Haiku. Jamie collaborated with Peter Lutze on a previous VideoPoetry project: Mountain Seasons.

Dr. Peter Lutze

Professor, Department of Communication, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA

Peter Lutze grew up in Oklahoma where his father served as pastor to black parishes. After graduating from Valparaiso University, he obtained an M.F.A. in Filmmaking and a J.D. at the University of Wisconsin, where he also completed his doctoral dissertation on the German film director and social theorist, Alexander Kluge. Since 1990 he has taught at Boise State University, where he has also served as Director of University Television Productions. He was a founder and served for several years as Chair of Treasure Valley Public Access Television. He has produced numerous films and videos.

Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney

Professor, Department of History, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho, USA

Laura Woodworth-Ney is an associate professor of history and former co-director of women’s studies at Idaho State University. She currently serves as Chair of the Department of History. Dr. Woodworth-Ney is also editor of the state history journal Idaho Yesterdays and is author of the book Mapping Identity: The Creation of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, 1805-1902 (University Press of Colorado, 2004).

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