Sandra Stelts, Linda Friend, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, and Carlos Rosas (Penn State University)
We propose to demonstrate the genesis of an animated, interactive, Web-based archive of selected 17th- to 19th-century moveable books by and for children on the theme of transformation (http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/digital/flapbooks.html or http://sites.psu.edu/play/). These rare, fragile, little-documented metamorphic books, combining aspects of books, prints, and toys, illustrate how children’s literature moved from “instruction to delight” by making use of play. The digital innovation enables viewers to simulate the experience of playing with these illustrated texts by virtual touch. The site is a research hub that makes use of faculty expertise to describe metamorphoses in historical context and includes a searchable catalog of all known metamorphoses as well as examples from partner libraries.
Our ongoing project, initially funded by an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant awarded to Professor Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, with the University Libraries as Co-Investigator partner, has been a collaborative effort to create a resource for scholars and teachers, at the university level for the study of early children’s culture, and at the primary-school level for art education. We undertook the creation of the site using undergraduate interns and then expanded the role of students by aligning ourselves with Professor Carlos Rosas, who assigned undergraduate projects in a Creative Collaboration Studio course in the Interdisciplinary Digital Studio program, using a 3D game engine (Unity) for educational purposes rather than entertainment. Students animated 18-century metamorphoses and also created their own virtual flapbooks as a 4-week, team-based media project, giving them opportunities to brainstorm, research, and design models, proofs, and prototypes. Dr. Reid-Walsh has also prototyped the pedagogical concept of creating flapbooks in instructional settings, using graduate-student researchers and elementary-school students.