Research Project

This semester-long project will allow you to demonstrate your skills as a historian by researching any aspect of modern Brazilian history and culture. How you frame your historical question and the approach you take are up to you. Whether you analyze Tropicália and Brazilian music during the dictatorship, Sócrates and the 1982 Brazilian National Team, race and gender in Brazilian soap operas, Gisele Bundchen and Brazilian aesthetic ideals, Getulio Vargas and the expansion of urban labor rights, or slave resistance on sugar plantations, the goal is for you to bring your own intellectual curiosity to our collective consideration of Brazil and its history.  This assignment will allow you to show your appreciation of the diversities of cultures and historical experiences in Brazil.  You’ll share your research in a 4-6 minute movie (audio slideshow) created using iMovie.

Student Learning Outcomes (based on the AHA Tuning Project):

Students will:

    • identify a significant research question about Brazilian history
    • demonstrate their skills of historical research in finding primary and secondary sources
    • produce an effective narrative that describes and analyzes the past to make a sophisticated interpretive argument.
    • understand the complex nature of the historical record by considering primary texts with very different perspectives.
    • use sound, images, and narrative to craft a compelling, sophisticated piece of digital storytelling

A few dates to keep in mind:

  • First three weeks of class: come to my office hours to discuss topic ideas.
  • Tuesday, February 13: Research Project Blog Post 4-5 paragraph post that describes your research question, explains its historical significance, and identifies relevant, high-quality sources (4-5 scholarly sources, and 3-4 primary sources).
  • Friday, March 9 upload Research Prospectus (abstract and annotated bibliography) to Moodle by 4pm.
  • Friday, April 6 Rough Draft of iMovie Storyboard.  In addition to the images you plan to use, you will present a full draft of your audio script.  This will be 4-6 minutes long, so about 500-700 words.  Upload to Moodle by noon.
  • Monday, April 9 Peer Review of iMovie Storyboards
  • Thursday, April 19 iMovie Work Day.  Come to the lab with your working materials saved on a usb/thumb drive.  You should have an audio recording of your script, ideas for music/sound effects, and image files.  If you use a Macbook, please bring it to the workshop.
  • Wednesday, May 9: Final iMovie (audio slideshow) is due by noon.  Post the link your YouTube video to Moodle.  You are welcome to make your video “unlisted” or “public” but not “private”, or we won’t be able to see it!

Research Prospectus (10%)

Your prospectus has two parts:

  1. a 200-300 word abstract that explains your research question, central historical argument, use of sources, and larger implications
  2. an annotated bibliography with at least four scholarly sources and two primary sources related to your research.

Audio Slideshow/iMovie (20%)

This project is an exercise in digital storytelling.  Your audio slideshow will combine a voiceover analysis of your material culture object with images that enhance your argument. Each student will create a five to six minute audio slideshow using iMovie.  You’ll upload your final project to YouTube to share it with the class.

Think about the attributes of a compelling audio slideshow:

  • Descriptive, vivid language
  • Clear argument supported by concrete examples
  • Logical transitions and a clear link between slides and audio
  • Interesting images that support your argument
  • Images from a variety of sources, perspectives, and mediums

More tips:

  • You can plan out your storyboard using an online tool like StoryboardThat or in a word processing program in Word or Google.
  • Draft a script for your slideshow that provides a contextual introduction to your project. Think carefully about how the medium (in this case, an audio file) should inform your composition. Make sure that you have a clear argument, that you vary sentence length and structure, and that you favor active verbs and descriptive language. Your audio should be at least four minutes long, but no more than six.
  • Think about how to use visuals creatively to enhance your argument.
  • Plan the timing of your slideshow carefully. Consider how much time to allow between images, and how to sync the images and text. Too many images passing by quickly frustrate your viewer because they don’t have time to process the information. Try to aim for at least five seconds screen time for most slides (It is ok to have a few exceptions.) Too long on a single image can be dull. One strategy is to look for different views of the same image, or multiple images to show your point.
  • Edit, revise, and refine your storyboard carefully.
  • Strive for visual uniformity in your presentation. Most professional audio slideshows use black backgrounds because it streamlines the visual effect.
  • You are designing for a computer screen rather than a projection, so you don’t need to use huge fonts that can be seen from the back of the room. Be consistent with your font choice, size, and basic layout.
  • Make sure that you crop your images to best make your point.
  • Don’t blow up an image so much that it becomes pixilated or illegible.
  • No clip art. Please. It is not cute or funny.
  • Don’t use slide transitions. Simple is best.
  • Make sure you include the source for all source images and audio in a final “sources” slide. Follow Chicago bibliography style.

Modern Brazil Audio Slideshow Rubric SP18

Every step of this process takes time and cannot be rushed! It will be impossible to create an acceptable presentation at the last minute.

Image Sources (licensed for educational use with attribution)

Archive of Early American Images, John Carter Brown Library

New York Public Library Open Images Digital Gallery

World Images Database

Library of Congress

Smithsonian Gallery of Images

Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

American Museum of Natural History, South American Ethnographic Collection

American Museum of Natural History, Mexico & Central American Collection

Audio Slideshow Resources

Free and Open Media Resources

Using Audacity for Recording

Digital Studio

iMovie Workshop Resources and Agenda, Ed Tech