Resources for students and teachers from the QuakeBox Canterbury earthquake stories

Lynn Clarke, of UC's NZ Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour, will be presenting a paper at the upcoming NZ Linguistics Society conference, on 23-25 November.  The paper showcases the QuakeBox project and explains how QuakeBox recordings in CEISMIC can be used in teaching. 


Resources for students and teachers from the QuakeBox Canterbury earthquake stories

Lynn Clark and Helen MacGougan
University of Canterbury

In the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011, everyone who had experienced the quakes had a story to tell.   In the months following the quakes, people would tell their 'Earthquake story' often.  The UC QuakeBox project was formed to record these stories.  The QuakeBox, a shipping container converted into a mobile recording studio, was positioned at various locations in and around Christchurch and collected 722 earthquake stories from members of the public. These recordings have now been carefully transcribed and time-aligned, and 576 stories are available publicly on the UC CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive website.   

In the first part of this paper, we demonstrate the breadth of the QuakeBox archive and show how it can be a useful resource in the undergraduate linguistics classroom.  For instance, the QuakeBox archive is a collection of monologues, so it is uniquely suited to exploring within-speaker variation in a sociolinguistics class.  Also, due to the nature of the topic, the speakers are unusually engaged in the monologues. It is perhaps the ideal sociolinguistic corpus – a collection of ‘danger-of-death’ stories (cf Labov 1972). It may be a useful tool in teaching discourse analysis too as it is a corpus of oral narratives with accompanying transcripts.  Finally, many of the stories were also filmed which means that, unlike other linguistic corpora, this also provides students (and researchers) with a way of exploring the relationship between linguistic variation and gesture. 

This accessible and freely-available resource of diverse and often dramatic stories has the potential to be used in multiple cross-disciplinary applications. In particular, it can also be used as a teaching resource in the high school
curriculum.  In the second part of this paper, we present the results of a collaborative endeavour between an academic and high school teacher to develop modules and lesson plans showing teachers how the QuakeBox stories can be used as resources in the English, Media Studies and Drama classroom. 


We're excited to see the CEISMIC archive used as a teaching resource, allowing students not only to learn about earthquakes, but to enhance their learning in other areas of the curriculum as well.