Event Title

The Birth of Zero at the Washington Park Zoo

Mentor 1

Amanda Seligman

Start Date

16-4-2021 12:00 AM

Description

In the fall of 2021, History 450 students will study Milwaukee history around the theme of the Washington Park Zoo, where the first polar bear birth in captivity took place in 1919. Students will present on primary sources and participate in a live Twitter re-enactment of the polar bear birth. Students will conduct their own primary source research, develop characters both historical and fictional, and create tweets based on research of their selected characters. Our aim is to provide students with a solid foundation for their research with a comprehensive collection of primary sources. In order to compile these sources, we will conduct primary source and archival research, creating bibliographic citations for a list of potential characters. The sources will cover key historical figures relevant to the zoo, as well as provide political, cultural, and historical context to Milwaukee in the late 1910s and early 1920s. This should allow students to develop real and fictionalized characters, using the primary sources to curate tweets that accurately reflect their subjects. This project will create a useful bibliographic resource for students on Milwaukee and the Washington Park Zoo. But perhaps most important is its contribution to a relatively new form of historical reenactment on social media, Twitter in particular. Virtual spaces allow for unique participation and observation of historical reenactment, and our work contributes to a relatively new mode of student learning and creation. Students must creatively portray their characters, finding ways to convey key moments and character traits, and find ways to share primary sources, all while working within the restrictions of Twitter’s character limit. By the time the reenactment is over, students have participated in a novel public-facing project, but also created a public record on social media, accessible to the public but also to instructors and future history students.

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Apr 16th, 12:00 AM

The Birth of Zero at the Washington Park Zoo

In the fall of 2021, History 450 students will study Milwaukee history around the theme of the Washington Park Zoo, where the first polar bear birth in captivity took place in 1919. Students will present on primary sources and participate in a live Twitter re-enactment of the polar bear birth. Students will conduct their own primary source research, develop characters both historical and fictional, and create tweets based on research of their selected characters. Our aim is to provide students with a solid foundation for their research with a comprehensive collection of primary sources. In order to compile these sources, we will conduct primary source and archival research, creating bibliographic citations for a list of potential characters. The sources will cover key historical figures relevant to the zoo, as well as provide political, cultural, and historical context to Milwaukee in the late 1910s and early 1920s. This should allow students to develop real and fictionalized characters, using the primary sources to curate tweets that accurately reflect their subjects. This project will create a useful bibliographic resource for students on Milwaukee and the Washington Park Zoo. But perhaps most important is its contribution to a relatively new form of historical reenactment on social media, Twitter in particular. Virtual spaces allow for unique participation and observation of historical reenactment, and our work contributes to a relatively new mode of student learning and creation. Students must creatively portray their characters, finding ways to convey key moments and character traits, and find ways to share primary sources, all while working within the restrictions of Twitter’s character limit. By the time the reenactment is over, students have participated in a novel public-facing project, but also created a public record on social media, accessible to the public but also to instructors and future history students.