By TERRY LEE
Terry Lee is an Associate Professor of English, with a specialization in journalism, at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. With a background in journalism, as well as a Ph.D. in British literature, Terry developed a documentary studies class in which students spend the semester working with an elder throughout the semester, documenting his or her stories and life in video, photography or narrative prose. He has lately become quite interested in aging, publishing recently in The Journal of Aging, Humanities and Arts and in Gerontology and Geriatrics Education. Turning 60 this year may have had something to do with it.
Jessica* just can’t muster the courage to visit the adult daycare center she has chosen to work in. At the midterm, her documentary studies professor warns her, as well as a few others, that more than half of the course grade is based on a project in which students visit elders throughout the semester, documenting their stories and lives in prose and video. This means visiting in homes, churches, and joining in any activity that a student documentarian may be welcome. The assignment requires students to venture into the community and to get to know an elder and his or her life story as well as they can in fourteen weeks and produce a documentary story that will be published online. By the midterm, Jessica should have already made several visits. Continue reading