About Dene Grigar

Dene Grigar is Director and Professor of the CMDC Program. She specializes in electronic literature, emerging technologies and cognition, and ephemera.

Coding Up the App

We are at the final stages of the development of “A Villager’s Tale.”  Grace and Jason have created a new map by kludging three maps with poor resolution together.  We found that we can indeed make the AR that we had hoped to create.  The videos are in the process of being compressed for mobile media delivery.  And the diary entries are written and ready to be recorded.  We plan to show the media at the upcoming arsTechnologika to get feedback from an audience.  What a journey!


Fort Vancouverville Game for the “Grand Emporium of the West” App

CMDC students, Mark Van Tassel and Greg Philbrook, have been working to develop the web version of the game, Fort Vancouverville, for the Grand Emporium of the West app that Brett Oppegaard and I are developing for the NEH EDSITEment project. 6-8th graders playing the game will take on the personae of James, an apprentice blacksmith who is new to the fort, and learn about the hard work it took to survive in the mid 1800s at the Village. Here are some screen shots of the blacksmith shop and James’ home, the two locations in which the game takes place, that Mark created by hand for the project.

Greg taught himself javascripting so that he could code the project for the app. Today we were able to see a proof of concept of the game and work with Greg to fine tune the storyline.view of the blacksmith shop in the Fort Vancouverville Game

view of the home found in the Fort Vancouverville Game

Treasure Trove of Information about Fort Vancouver

image from A Villager's TaleWhile vacationing in Steamboat with my female friends, I got to know a cousin of one of these women, a man collects first edition books about the West. He allowed me to sniff around his collection and pull out texts that contained information about Fort Vancouver and the Village. And since I am prone to insomnia, I was able to spend quite a bit of time making copious notes for the Fort Vancouver Mobile project.

I have added my notes to the “Scholarship” page of this site. A special thank you to Bill Harrison for this information.

Contextualizing History

Dene Ringing the Fort's Bell

Dene Grigar rings the bells at the Fort in preparation of recording its sound for the Fort Vancouver Mobile app

Members of the FVM team––Grace, Vern, and I––spent the morning at the Fort and Village shooting photos of household and personal objects the villagers would have used in their everyday lives. We began with a series of shots with the objects laid on the table as an artifact, with the catalog number showing. We then worked with the Fort’s archivist by having her move these objects to House 2 where we photographed them again in context to their use. In other words, the rum bottle was shot on the small wooden table in the house, the toy hatchet on a tree stump, etc. In “A Villager’s Tale,” 10 of these items will appear in the episode entitled “Home at the Village.” In “The Grand Emporium of the West,” which is the special app we are making for 6-8th graders as part of the Verizon-NEH project, they will be part of the “lost and found” game.

Later in the afternoon, we captured the sound of the bell tolling. This sound was part of the Villager’s daily life in that the bell called them to work, to lunch, to home each day. So, visitors to the Village using the FVM app will hear them when they reach the episode entitled, “Our Normal Work Day.”

Next up: The photomontage series for each of the four episodes. . .

Filming at the Village for “A Villager’s Tale”

We spent the day filming “A Villager’s Tale.”  This is the module about women and domestic life during the Fur Trade period at the Village at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The module is part of the Fort Vancouver Mobile project, an app for mobile devices that provides historical and interpretative stories about the Fort.  “A Villager’s Life” will launch this fall.

Because records about women at the Fort during this period are sparse, I decided to tell the story as a double narrative:  The first story is a metanarrative, presented as a series of videos in which Cassie Anderson, Park Ranger and Historic Programs Coordinator at the Fort talks about life in the Village from a historical perspective.  The second is a literary interpretation that parallels the historical information; this story centers on a Métisse woman of Cree and French-Canadian heritage who comes to the Village with her fur-trapper husband. Her story unfolds as sound files, a series of photomontage, and maps. Unlike Cassie who is able to identify herself in her metanarrative, the ficitonal character of this story remains nameless and faceless throughout, reflecting the general anonymity of women during this period.

Both stories unfold in four episodes.  These episodes center on Home, Family, Food, and Work and highlight major aspects of daily life at the Village.  They also provide a narrative flow in that there is rising and falling action related to the hardships of life at the Village.  The turning point occurs with a canoe accident involving our character and her children.

Welcome to Fort Vancouver Mobile, Phase 2

The logo for the FVM“Fort Vancouver Mobile” (FVM) brings together a team of 18 scholars and storytellers from throughout the digital humanities field––including historians and archaeologists as well as experts in literature, rhetoric, and writing––to create digital content for mobile phones that can be accessed by visitors to the The Village at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, in Vancouver, WA.  Phase 1 developed “apps” for mobile phones that delivers nonfiction narrative content about the lives of Hawaiian workers of the Fort.  It has resulted in the “proof of concept” for the larger project.  Phase 2, the project chronicled in this site, focuses on women and domestic issues whose presence at the Fort until recently has not garnered much public attention.  At the end of our project we will have a series of digital stories, told through video, sound files, and other media, able to be delivered by smart phones to Fort Vancouver visitors.

I, along with my colleague Brett Oppegaard also from The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV), are heading up this phase of FVM. We received a Start Up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as a 2011 Historical Promotion grant from Clark County, and a 2011 Research Mini-Grant from WSUV.  Phase 1 was seeded originally with a 2010 Historic Promotion Grant led by Oppegaard.

We are using this website to document our work as we produce the project. The main site for the Fort Vancouver Project is managed by Oppegaard.  Please visit it for more information about our work.

You can download the app for both Android and Apple.