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VideoPoetry integrates video and poetry to explore historical or geographic subjects. VideoPoetry is both a process and a product. This paper will use a short VideoPoem, "Mary Hallock Foote at Stone House," to demonstrate how students of all educational levels can become engaged in creating VideoPoetry. Each VideoPoem offers students a cross-disciplinary experience that involves research, analysis of information, imaginative writing and video composition leading to a classroom presentation of the final product.

As a process VideoPoetry requires the investigation of a subject, in this case, Mary Hallock Foote, artist and illustrator of the Western United States. Based on the historical research including her published reminiscences, one of the authors wrote a narrative poem imagining Foote's reflections on her life at Stone House. The poem evoked mental images which we brought into the video through historical photographs, Foote's woodblock drawings and present-day video footage of the landscape. Spoken by a woman narrator, the poem along with appropriate sound effects became the soundtrack and structuring element for the VideoPoem. Preceding the VideoPoem is an introduction which uses an objective voice to establish the historical context. As a product, this VideoPoem expresses an interpretation of the life and thoughts of an historical person and the place where she lived. The pictures both illustrate the poem and extend its evocative quality.

As such "Mary Hallock Foote at Stone House" is an example of Imaginative Writing, an instructional strategy that encourages students to use their imaginations to create valid contexts in which historical figures lived and acted. For viewers, VideoPoetry conveys both historical information and a sense of what it was like to live in another era. VideoPoetry expands the possibilities of studying history by providing a multi-media and multi-sensory experience.

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This document was originally published by Common Ground in International Journal of the Arts in Society. Readers must contact Common Ground for permission to reproduce this article.

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