Bell fund award supports new Web site on mystic women


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Garay, Wesley, Ryder, McKay, Woolf, Jeay”]A substantial award from the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund will enable professors in McMaster's Faculty of Humanities and a local production company to create both a Web site and a television series on Mystic Women in the Middle Ages.

Redcanoe Productions of Hamilton has won a $240,000 Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund award to help produce a six-part series for Vision TV and the Women's Television Network, and to establish a cutting-edge, broadband Web site. Redcanoe will use a portion of the award, $75,000, for the TV series. The remainder, $165,000, will go toward the creation of a Web site to be developed by humanities faculty at McMaster.

“The Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund awards are granted to innovative and exciting new media products that present new ways of communicating, learning, entertaining and interacting,” says Andra Sheffer, executive director, Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund. “We are pleased to provide this funding to Redcanoe and to support its partnership with McMaster University.”

“This funding brings the private and public sectors together to market new learning opportunities, to provide new materials to be used as teaching tools in universities, and to develop new television programming which both interests the public and prompts viewers and Web users to learn more,” says David Wesley of Redcanoe. “This project demonstrates McMaster's leadership in making learning accessible through new media and the film and television industries.”

“This partnership between the private sector, namely Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund and Redcanoe, and McMaster University's Faculty of Humanities points to a bright and exciting future for the liberal arts in today's technological world. We hope this is just the beginning of many such collaborations,” says dean of humanities Daniel Woolf.

The television series includes an examination of the lives of the southern French mystic Douceline de Digne, the Italian Clare of Assisi and Margery Kempe, the fourteenth-century English mystic and mother of 14 children.

The interactive Web site will recreate the sights, sounds and traditions of the Middle Ages with a focus on women and spirituality. Users will be given the opportunity to explore and discover this medieval period through the adventures of Christine, a fifteen-year-old girl living in the 15th century. Through interactive graphics, games, video, sound and music, visitors will experience first hand the choices available to a young girl growing up in the Middles Ages. Along the way, they can build a cathedral, visit a nunnery or entertain at the royal court.

Educational material for the Web site and the television series will be developed by the site producer, Kathy Garay, of the McMaster Working Group on the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and associate producer Madeleine Jeay, also a member of the Working Group and Department of French. Anne Savage and Bernice Kacynski, also members of the Working Group, will be contributing additional content. Marvin Ryder, assistant vice-president, Information Services & Technology, is executive producer and Muriel McKay, analyst, Computing & Information Services, is technical producer for the Web site.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring the Middle Ages and, particularly, the lives, experiences and spirituality of the remarkable women who lived during this period, to a wider audience. The Web site will be designed to capture all of the colour, excitement and mystery of the Middle Ages. We hope to entice users to explore and discover a distant world,” says Kathy Garay. The site timeline will cover more than a thousand years of history (450-1500), from the end of the ancient world to the end of the Middle Ages.

The Web site will be launched in October 2000 to coincide with the first showing of the television series.