Two History Department faculty members presented digital media projects at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2019. Associate Professor of History Robert Cassanello presented the “Jones High School Digital History exhibit,” and Associate Professor of History Yovanna Pineda presented “The Middle Passage: Virtual Reality Experience.”
Cassanello and students worked with the Jones High Historical Society to digitize the school’s on-campus history exhibits and collections. Most of these collections relate to the school’s history at its current building. Cassanello and his students researched the school’s earlier history at various buildings and with different names, and combined their findings with the historical society’s collections to create the digital exhibit. The exhibit allows for researchers and students around the globe to access material related to the history of Jones High, previously available only to students and faculty at the school.
Pineda, along with Emily Johnson, assistant professor in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, and Amy Giroux, associate director of the UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research, collaborated with computer science students to create a virtual reality experience of the Middle Passage, the transatlantic journey of Africans who were forcibly taken from their homeland. VR participants experienced challenges of the seven-week voyage from Africa to South America. The stories in the virtual experience are based on various archival material, visual depictions, and primary source accounts. The project is intended to encourage visitors to empathize with the captives trafficked across the Atlantic.