Literary Dreamscapes Made "Real" via Virtual Reality
During the Spring 2018 semester, Visiting Assistant Professor of Literature Nhora Lucía Serrano incorporated virtual reality(VR) technologies and assignments into her interdisciplinary “Dream a Little Dream: Virtual Realities & Literature” course. Designed to introduce students to the representation of virtual worlds in literature, the course explored emerging technologies such as Story Maps, 3D virtual objects, and 3D virtual realities.
Taking an analytical and digital humanities methodological approach, the course examined how literature can represent the relationship between the so-called real world and the dreamscape one. Students created virtual reality environments inspired by scenes and passages from the literary texts read throughout the semester.
The course culminated with a presentation of these virtual worlds to the Hamilton community on May 7. According to Serrano, this unique approach to teaching a humanities course with digital technology allowed students to be producers, not just consumers, of technology.
To teach students the basics of VR development, Serrano teamed up with Instructional Designer and 3d Technology Specialist Ben Salzman, who provided multiple workshops for the course teaching Unity, Tinkercad and Screen Recording Software. Throughout the semester, students utilized Salzman’s expertise, along with templates and assets, to create immersive environments. Working in groups of three to four, the students developed and refined their skills in reading, critical thinking, creativity, and literary analysis via digital humanities, digital arts and technology.