As I gear up for a new semester of teaching, I’m revising and looking back over materials from last year (in truth much less than a year due to a COVID-delayed start to teaching).
It is always a pleasure to look back over student work, in particular from the creative-critical module I teach on transmedia storytelling. Last year my students produced three transmedia stories, in an unusually short time frame. In groups students are tasked with telling a variety of different stories in different media, framed within the same universe or around the same set of characters. Students also have to think about the ‘why’ of the story, and how it is driven by a particular cause or project. This year’s projects included themes of anti-colonialism, cross-cultural education, and building body confidence.
One of these transmedial stories, Guarding the Love, was developed in the course of the year by students Su Cong, Chen Zhao, Li Yunjia, Pan Zichun, Mai Yingying, and Chen Yiwen, and aims to teach Chinese language skills and cultural knowledge through storytelling.
Guarding the Love tells the story of Houyi, a hero from Chinese mythology. From the project website:
Once upon a time there were 10 golden birds in the sky.
They constantly radiated heat and light from the clouds’ end and the mortals on earth called them “the suns”.
The suns never went down, and eventually led to a horrifying drought across the entire land.
Crops died, rivers evaporated, the whole world was burning in inferno.
A hero named HOUYI showed up with his incomparable skill as an archer, he swore to shoot the suns down…
The story is told across four different media: writing, video, comics, and a board game, and it was featured as part of the huge variety of online events and activities at Southampton’s annual Festival of Arts and Humanities.