Grinnell College Immersive Experiences Lab (GCIEL)
Author: Sam Nakahira
Sam Nakahira ‘19 is a History major with a concentration in American Studies. She is the team subject-matter expert who researches the sugar plantation and its cultural history. In addition, Sam hopes to incorporate the digital humanities in her own research as a Mellon Mays fellow.
During our research trip to Louisiana, I was struck by the differences in narratives we heard at our tours to various sugar plantations. One tour was from the perspective of slaves. A different tour centered around the life of one owner on the plantation who opposed slavery. Unfortunately, one tour was solely about the plantation owners who lived in the manor and covered nothing about the harsh reality of slavery.
Hearing all these different approaches gave our group good ideas for what we want to accomplish in our project as well as examples on what not to do. Additionally, the tours gave me more insight into how history is constructed. After experiencing the different tours, I realize that the story of Louisiana sugar plantations changes when you shift focuses between the different people who lived on the plantations. Continue reading “Constructing history and interdisciplinary work”
After looking through our secondary and primary sources, our team has decided to create a virtual reality experience of sugar production on the Uncle Sam Plantation, possibly during the 1860s or 1870s. I began research on the sugar making process and learned more in depth information such as how the cut sugarcane was fed into the sugarhouse’s machinery, which ground the cane into liquid. I also reviewed details about the boiling process, which took place in four kettles. I looked for images and photos of the sugarhouse machinery and floor plans. No doubt, the turning of wheels and rollers, the hissing and steam from the boiling process, and the sounds of the machinery grinding the cane will have engaging visual and sensory effects for our GCIEL team to incorporate in the project. Continue reading “Reference images for the sugarhouse”
Last week, I travelled to Louisiana State University from Grinnell to study the Uncle Sam Plantation Papers from their special collections library. It was first time in Louisiana and I was not expecting the humid weather. But I did not have to suffer too much as I spent most of my time in the Hilltop Memorial Library, where it was always nice and cool. The Hill library is so spacious and beautiful. Furthermore, the librarians and staff at the Library were all extremely helpful and friendly; it was easy to see they enjoyed their jobs and liked to see visitors come view the special collections. I had the best environment to work in. Continue reading “Summer research in Louisiana”