I really liked Stephanie’s idea for her project. It’s based on one of her old essays so she already has a good understanding of the topic. Her main idea is to create a website where she will inform people about the Psychiatric Survivor Movement and educate them about what it stands for and what it means. I think that this is a great idea for a topic and is something that should be talked about and explored because I had never heard of this movement before, and it is such a serious topic that needs more awareness. Stephanie also mentioned how she would be linking visitors out to some current movements that are working to raise awareness for mental illnesses such as the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. This is a great idea because hopefully when people are reading the information on her website they will be interested in doing what they can to help, and providing links to places where they can is a good way to bring even more awareness to these causes.
In her presentation Stephanie also mentioned that there is a website that has digitized copies of the “Phoenix Rising” journal that were written in the 1960s-1980s. These journals were written by former patients of mental illness and give a unique perspective into the topic of how these patients were treated. She plans to display these journals on her website and to use them to map out the growth of the Psychiatric Survivor Movement across Canada and the United States. I think that this is a good way to show how the movement grew, as more and more people came forward with their stories which are outlined in these journals. Mapping out the spread of this movement using some of the tools discussed in class would be a very interesting way to portray this information. She also mentioned her plans to record audio reading out ex-patient testimonies of the abuses they faced in these mental institutions. I think this is a good idea for two main reasons, the first being simply because it gives an extra bit of accessibility for her audience, and the second reason being that I think it would make these people’s stories resonate with the audience more, hearing it being read to them rather than reading off of a screen.
Stephanie’s topic reminded me of a class I took last year about the history of criminal punishment, and one week we looked at mental institutions and the conditions that the inmates were forced to live in. We watched a film called “Titicut Follies” a documentary about the conditions at a mental illness institution in the 1960’s that was pretty hard to watch. I’m not sure if that film would be helpful for her topic, but it may be something worth looking at. In all, I liked the idea for her project and her plans for incorporating digital humanities tools, and am excited to see how it all turns out.