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The Role of the Scholarly Voice-Over (SVO)

SVO Collaboration Page
General Information: The Role of the Scholarly Voice-Over (SVO)

Nine key clips from the film have been isolated and presented within the CD-rom as interactive, annotated filmstrips. Certain frames or shots from these nine clips trigger detailed analyses by way of "scholarly voice-overs." For instance, a series of shots of a white Union captain leading several African-American soldiers into a Southern home might trigger a scholarly voice-over in any one of our four categories of analysis. In the area of Historical Re-creation, a discussion of domestic raids in the latter part of the Civil War and of the inaccuracy of Griffith's depiction of a home raid as one of the war's kick-off event might ensue. In the area of Film Technique, a film historian might discuss the use of parallel editing in this particular scene. An African American Studies scholar might discuss how the scene's racist visual representation of the armed soldiers, thereby fitting into the Racial Representation category. Or, in the area of Literary Origins, a Southern literature scholar might compare this incident's role in the novels from which the film was derived. Each of the four categories has a color designation, allowing students of a certain discipline to initially target for study the scholarly voice-overs of a single category of analysis, before moving on to the other categories for a deeper understanding.

When a scholarly voice-over opportunity is triggered by the appearance of a certain shot within the clip, the student has the chance to follow this link, which will bring her to a separate screen dedicated entirely to the scholarly voice-over. Information about the scholar's organizational affiliation and field will remain on screen, while other documents move on screen, temporarily being placed centerstage before moving on to a more marginal position on the screen. Such documents, with particular lines highlighted, for instance, are timed to the content of the voice-over. After the voice-over, these documents can be accessed for further investigation on the part of the student. Many of these documents may contain some type of rollover interactivity, which breaks the possible passivity encouraged by a primarily presentational format. For instance, a discussion of minstrelsy might be accompanied by images of well-known blackface actors of the period. A rollover action on the part of the user would trigger a switchout of the image, replacing the photo of the actor in costume with an image of the actor without blackface make-up. Similarly, a frame from the shot associated with the scholarly voice-over may be available on screen but would remain static until the user rested the cursor over the image, causing the shot to play in a looped form.

In addition to primary documents such as letters, photographs, government records, and engravings, two other types of documents might be available during the scholarly voice-over:

  • THEME CARDS. Theme cards draw connections between clips and provide the student with a way to move from one voice-over to another in pursuit of an understanding of this theme. For instance, a theme card on the representation of mulattos might connect two scholar's discussion of different mulatto characters seen in multiple separate clips.

  • QUOTE CARDS. In a written essay, a scholar might draw on the research of others, integrating quotes and citations. These references to other works are quite valuable for the student deciding to further pursue a subject. Since such references may be cumbersome in a spoken format, quote cards – visually represented as 3 by 5 cards with typed quotes and bibliographic citations – fill this role.

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  • Ellen Strain last edited on 11 February 2000 at 6:26 pm by