On Tuesday, I attend Professor Johnson’s talk, which discussed how slavery was an effective economic system and a particular slave story through digital medias.
When writing this post, I contemplated on how to approach my frustration with the talk. Although Professor Johnson’s topic was interesting, she did not catch my attention as I had hope. I felt she danced around the idea that this digitalized way of viewing slavery and different slave stories allows for an audience to empathize with the slaves and their conditions. Even today, it is hard to grasp the pain slavery caused, one of the worst crimes in humanity, and the numerous traumatic experiences or flashbacks by slaves and their descendants. We hear this pain through the first song Johnson plays during her talk. The song intrigued me; but as the talk continued, I felt that a tie was missing between this single example and general ideas of what to take away from these original musical compositions. How does this single song or entire album contribute to the narrative of slavery?
Another point I felt Johnson should have made explicitly is that digital media also makes these stories come to life. These digital media representations, whether it be a slave’s story or a coming of age story, are live books. The chapters of the story are more than words divided in a book or data collected over time. It may be a dialogue heard in a podcast, musical chapters off an album, several videos of personal discoveries, or a presentation of images that flow. Even the use of twitter stories or essays offers another way to bring these stories to life to a board audience. The beauty is each media offers an exciting way to explore a subject with an interactive approach. Digital media offers a faster way to offer feedback and creates new conversations .
I wish I had time to stay for the Q&A session, but prior obligations prevented me from such. But please, if anyone else attended the talk, I would love for you to comment on things you enjoyed, agreed, or disagreed with. What questions do you have that you wish she addressed in her presentation or during the Q&A? Did she address any of my concerns during the Q&A?