The Virtual Harlem Project is a virtual representation of Harlem, NY as it existed during the 1920s Jazz Age. This project is one of the earliest full virtual reality environments created for use in the humanities and certainly one of the first for use in an African American literature course. Originally conceived while completing my doctoral tudies at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UCM), Virtual Harlem has both grown and matured over the years. In 1996, a newsletter distributed to the faculty, staff and graduate teaching assistants at the university called for proposals to make use of a new technology called Virtual Reality. Of the hundreds of faculty at UCM, only two submitted proposals along with mine describing my vision for Virtual Harlem.
The project was originally proposed as a representation of a portion of Harlem, NY as it existed during the Harlem Renaissance/Jazz Age. The digital environment contains iconic locations like the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, Marshalls Hotel, museums, art galleries and libraries. In addition to these famous locations, there are also be interactive elements, collaborative possibilities, music of the period and opportunities for students to create projects related to the period and to role play.
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