By Nicole Soto, Lissette Espinoza
We began with a debriefing, a chance to create a physical exhibit in Santa Clara University’s library. Professor Leuner introduced us students to this opportunity and soon after we began to familiarize ourselves with the subjects. Our goal was to create a physical exhibit housing various related and remade editions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; but first we ourselves had to get to know the books.
Thus, in our first visit to the archives room of our school library, we wandered around the books, learning about them, their details and their differences. Briefly we acquainted ourselves with these various versions and their future places on the window displays next door. Each student was then tasked to choose a version they found most interesting, also familiarizing ourselves with the way to handle the fragile and old, rare books to properly preserve them. It may have been because of the differences in illustration or of textual variations, but like minded individuals naturally formed groups and chose for themselves which book to analyze and interpret for the exhibit to begin this endeavor.
The Digital Blog
Once decided and formed in our groups, it was time to begin some work on our blogs. In our self-gathered teams we were asked to write a blog that would define the main unique features of our chosen books. We needed to know what exactly made these books special and stand out from all the other Frankenstein reprints. Nadia Nasr, the head of SCU’s Archives and Special Collections, started us off by introducing us to what a blog could be as well as what our blog was ultimately leading up to, and that each group had a unique task at hand with our book collection and the various forms each edition took. Some of us looked at historical time frame, publication information, illustrator profiles, whiles others attempted to gather information by asking the “why”s of their book’s production. What influenced publishers to reprint these books in different and unique ways? With our leads in mind we researched answers to these inquiries, ultimately devising a main focus for each book. Using that focus and its research we wrote blog posts summarizing our findings and providing the foundation for our next step.
Narrowing It Down: The “Big Idea”
This “Big Idea” was to be the unifier of all of our separate books and research. It was a thesis meant to synthesize the similarities of our subjects while posing them into a short, but engaging theme for our exhibit. We shared our blog posts during one period, summarizing the main points and taking note of any overarching themes or similarities. We then put this brainstorm to white board, largely writing out our ideas for our exhibit and what we noted were the re-occurring words or phrases that related to how the Frankenstein and its relatives changed or adapted throughout time. From there it was only the issue of refining the idea. Individually we were told to attempt this task, and through an elimination process we chose the best phrase, later improved with additions from other versions and our professor’s final tweak. This big idea would be the finalized concept made from reworking a unifying subject, an associated verb and the “what’s the point”.
Narrowed Further: Captions
Once we had a thesis or “Big Idea” to guide the structure of our exhibit, the next step towards the end was completing captions or labels for our book displays. We needed the viewers to be able to glance and understand the importance of the book and its relation to the theme while still being engaging. So back to the archives we went to spend more time with our books and consider our possibilities once again as groups. We brainstormed ideas after receiving instructions and took that time to produce a rough draft that would pull in the viewer. Complete, we posted the drafts in a shared document to be critiqued and improved upon by our peers until finally we were satisfied. These captions would then be displayed with our physical exhibit to guide the viewers’ understanding.
Putting It All Together
By now the majority of the exhibit had been planned and written. Exhibit dates were taken care of by lead professors and the theme and most associated writings had already been decided. What was left was to finish up the final touches on the website and setting up the physical display. Using pictures taken throughout the quarter we updated the website, finally posting our finished captions and blogs as well as committee group tasks. These groups were created to work on the remaining pages for the website including the introduction page, contributor bios of the students who worked on this exhibit, and this very same methods page. They were also tasked with the actual physical setup of labels and captions and designing interactive games for the viewers. Together the website would be completed in compliment to the exhibit and left for viewers to enjoy.