English Professor Offers New Opportunity for Students

Students to Help Curate a Digital Exhibit in New Class Offering


Photo provided by Jane Greer

The class gives students the opportunity to help curate an online exhibit and help build their resumes and portfolios.

RobyLane Kelley, Staff Writer

  English professor Jane Greer is introducing an opportunity for students to be curators for a digital exhibit next semester at UMKC. 

  Greer’s class, Rhetoric of Public Memory, gives students hands-on experience curating a digital exhibit alongside Greer, who is the director of the office of undergraduate research and creative scholarship as well as the curators’ distinguished teaching professor. 

   “I think we’re going to learn to do something together, and we’re gonna point to something we’re really proud of at the end of the semester,” Greer said. 

  This class will give students a chance to be at the center of the research and creation of the digital exhibit. All students who contribute will be able to put the exhibit on their resumes or in their portfolios. 

  The topics of research for next semester are letters written by the Donnelly Garment Factory Company workers in 1937 in opposition to unionizing. The garment factory was right here in Kansas City and stood the test of time against external forces such as The Great Depression. 

  Nelly Donnelly herself is a woman who sparks Greer’s curiosity. Donnelly lived in the Kansas City area and ran her own garment factory before her death in 1991. She provided women with safe and sanitary work along with stable pay during The Great Depression, and without an external union changing the way she ran her company. 

  “I think Nelly Don’s story as a woman entrepreneur in the early 20th century is super important. It’s a unique story,” Greer said. “The fact that we can also amplify the voices of the women who worked for her is such a rare opportunity.” 

  Besides just reading letters, students will listen to oral interviews conducted in the 1980s. Working in diverse teams, students will put together their research and tag exhibits so they are easier to find for the generations to come. 

  Greer says that learning how to conduct research is “such an important skill.” She looks forward to having fun and learning together with her students. 

  Among Greer’s diverse team is Mēgan Oliver, head of digital projects at UMKC. This is Oliver’s first year at the university and she notices that projects at UMKC have more student involvement than at other universities where she worked. 

  “As I’ve experienced here, a lot of the work is driven by what students are able to work with their professors on,” Oliver said. “So a professor might have an idea, but the students make it happen.” 

  Greer’s redesigned course will start in Spring, listed as English 309WI: Rhetorics of Public Memory and will count as an English writing intensive class.

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