... how participation in an online virtual community has impacted one teacher's understanding of history, and how that has been reflected in actual classroom instruction.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
20 January 2013: Reaching into the Past
A watercolor painting of Eltville am Rhein, where I lived from 1989-91.
My profile in SL goes something like this:
In the 1920s Berlin Project, I am Augusta Carolina Maria von Nassau-Weilburg, the teacher at the Hindenburg Schule, the namesake of an actual RL member of Hesse's noble family.
I had researched a historical identity before coming to Berlin, in response to the way RP was being played out in Versailles in SL. I wanted to be able to relate to the character more, so I looked for a real individual from a section of Germany that I am familiar with. That would be Hessen, in the Rheingau region in central Germany.
Who I found was Augusta Carolina Maria of Nassau-Weilburg. She was born in the Hague (5 February 1764) and died in Weilburg (25 January 1802) at age 38. She was the eldest daughter of Karl Christian, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg and Princess Carolina of Orange and Nassau-Dietz (making her the granddaughter of William IV of the Netherlands and great-granddaughter of King George II of England; her mother was briefly the regent of the Stadtholder of the Netherlands when Augusta was very young). Augusta was a princess, known as Prinzessin Maria to her family, and the third of 15 children.
There is not much more information about the Prinzessin that is readily available, except for the fact that she became a nun. This fact made her more interesting as a subject of role play, as her family was more obscure and her life would be more open for development in RP, especially in Versailles. She would have been exactly the right age for the end of the French monarchy. However, I did not remain in Versailles, and although I pulled the identity with me to Romanov Russia, that sim did not last (although it has returned).*
Herzogin Augusta Carolina Maria von Nassau-Weilburg
at Unter den Linden on a spring afternoon.
So since I was already using the name in SL when I went to Berlin, I kept it. But now, I had to pull the identity forward into the 1920s as best I could. Fortunately, the Nassau-Weilburg family eventually moved to Biebrich, which is where Augusta calls home. I can't tell you how many times I have driven past Schloss Biebrich, the residence of this family, when living in Eltville! Restructured under Napoleon, Nassau-Weilburg became a duchy, which makes my character in the 1920s Berlin Project a noble: Herzogin Augusta Carolina Maria of Nassau-Weilburg. Descendents of the Nassau-Weilburg line are now the rulers of the Grandduchy of Luxembourg.
This has made my RP as Augusta very interesting. The point of the sim is to portray reality, but here I was, with a very interesting personality to undertake. I needed to take what I had created and place her into a believeable historical context for Berlin in the late 1920s. So I took the next logical step. I looked at the information that I was teaching to my RL students.
*Ironically, it was at the opening of the St. Petersburg sim in January 2012 that I ran into the King Willem of Orange-Nassau! I will occasionally attend formal gatherings as the niece of the king of the Netherlands, which is a delightful change (although he is actually the Prinzessin's cousin historically).