Crossing Campus Boundaries: Using Classical Mythology and Digital Storytelling to Connect Honors Colleges

By Navarre, Joan; Kayser, Maddie et al. | Honors in Practice, Annual 2019 | Go to article overview

Crossing Campus Boundaries: Using Classical Mythology and Digital Storytelling to Connect Honors Colleges


Navarre, Joan, Kayser, Maddie, Pass, Dylan, Bisch, Marilyn, Smith, Catherine, Williamson, Andrew, Honors in Practice


In spring 2018, two honors colleges--at Indiana State University (ISU) and University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout)--came together to create a cross-institutional collaboration blurring the boundaries between campuses This project connected first-year honors students in a coordinated core curriculum of two geographically separated honors colleges. Building upon their studies of Classical mythology, ISU honors students in GH 101 Classical Cultures of Greece and Rome reviewed, advised, and critiqued screenplays composed by UW-Stout students in ENGL 113 Honors English. This coordinated project led to the production of short films that premiered at ISU's Spring Classics Fest and were submitted for competition at UW-Stout's 4:51 Short Film Festival and Exhibition. Both events took place on 6 April 2018. Drawing on our 2018 NCHC panel presentation in Boston, we highlight here the value of cross-institutional collaborations for honors students, teachers, and programs. The collaborative process advanced skills in critical reading, critical writing, and literary analysis; engaged students and teachers in the scholarship of teaching and learning; and contributed to curricular innovation. Examples of assignments, interim results, and student-created short films, along with students' assessments of the value of crossing campus boundaries, indicate the success of this kind of collaboration.

The first-year UW-Stout students took the lead. The students divided into six teams with approximately five students per team: Team Arachne & Athena; Team Cyclops & Odysseus; Team Icarus; Team Medusa; Team Prometheus; and Team Pygmalion & Galatea. Each team selected and studied an episode from the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome to adapt into a modern short film (4 minutes 51 seconds or less). The primary reference text was Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, a compilation of summaries of important Classical myths. Hamilton translates each story for modern readers, drawing details from ancient sources. The students created a plot diagram illustrating their understanding of Hamilton's translation; they participated in a short oral presentation; they shared their plot summary with the entire class; and they were evaluated on their overall comprehension of course readings.

Next, the UW-Stout students created a plot diagram illustrating their intention for their short film adaptation, their purpose being to tell a story about the current relevance of Classical mythology to an audience of university students interested in learning about Classical mythology. The film adaptation assignment consisted of three phases:

Phase #1: Team Update in Preparation for Rough Cut

PowerPoint Presentation (5-7 minutes):

* The Classical myth

* Team members and roles

* Plot diagram: beginning, middle, and end (Consider: Is there a recognition and reversal?)

* Storyboard: beginning, middle, and end (9-12 frames total)

* Screenplay: presentation of a portion of the completed screenplay, with the entire screenplay submitted to an online dropbox

* List of camera angles described in conjunction with each frame of the storyboard

Phase #2: Cross-Institutional Collaborations with Classical Cultures Honors Students at Indiana State University

* Screenplay submitted to ISU (via email), with feedback received based on Aristotle's basic elements from the Poetics

* Reflection

* Revision based on feedback and reflection

Phase #3: Submit Film Adaptation

* ISU's Spring Classics Fest

* UW-Stout's 4:51 Short Film Festival and Exhibition

The first step for ISU students was to learn as much as possible about the myths chosen by their UW-Stout colleagues. Building on their fundamental studies of Classical mythology, they began by reading and summarizing the myths as retold by Hamilton, focusing on the essentials. …

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