On October 12, 2018, Dr. Victoria J. Gallagher presented the 2018-19 lecture “The Virtual Martin Luther King (vMLK) Project: Crafting a Necessary (Digital) Space to Explore Rhetorical Leadership and Civic Transformation,” complete with a virtual reality component assisted by UWM’s Campus Technology Support. Professor Gallagher is co-director of the vMLK project, which was competitively selected to be featured in the ACCelerate Festival of Creativity and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in October of 2017.
The vMLK Project is an immersive, ambient recreation, including sound and visual renderings, of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1960 “Fill Up the Jails” speech delivered in Durham, NC, of which no known recordings survive. A product of interdisciplinary collaboration using digital technologies to engage students, scholars, and the public, vMLK challenges how we think about rhetorical leadership, public address, and public memory.
In this talk, Gallagher discussed some provocations and problems that arise from work at the juncture of rhetoric and digital humanities. Her goal was to extend scholarly conversations in these areas by describing the ways in which the vMLK project puts the digital humanities into practice, how rhetorical theory guides the production of this digital humanities project, and, reciprocally, how the making of different digital projects might engage contemporary modes of civic life in provocative ways.
Dr. Gallagher is Professor of Communication at North Carolina State University. Her specialty is rhetorical criticism of visual and material culture. Her scholarship appears in journals including Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and the Journal of Visual Literacy.