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Public Humanities

Looking Back and Looking Ahead




Public Humanities

Calling all public humanists
past, present, and future!

Are you a student looking to apply your skills as
a humanities major into a careerlike
programming, outreach, and education;
community cultural work; historic preservation;
arts and nonprofit administration; museum
education, interpretation and curatorial work; or
cultural planningand seeking more
information about the public humanities?

Are you a professor or local professional trying
to kick-start humanities courses, programs or
programming at your college or organization?

Have you experience in the public humanities
and want to join in the conversation?

All are invited to join Steven Lubar, professor of
American Studies and History at Brown
University, former curator at the Smithsonian
Museum, and until this past June, director of the
John Nicholas Brown Center for Public
Humanities and Cultural Heritage, as he
discusses his decade-long tenure at the helm of
Browns public humanities program.

I learned a little about how teachers teach and students
learn, how universities work, and don't, why I like doing
projects, and just how confusing the job market is.
-Lubar, 2014

Sponsored by
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, UMass Amherst Public History Program
and the Five Colleges, Inc./Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Bridging Initiative in
the Public and Applied Humanities

Lecture Open to the Public

When: Monday, October 27, 2014
5:30pm
Where: Gamble Auditorium/ Mount
Holyoke College Art Museum

Please join us!






A presentation by Professor
Steven Lubar

The yer for the talk. The audience was students and faculty at UMass-Amherst and surrounding schools
interested in attending or setting up a program.
1
Public Humanities:
Looking back, looking
around, and looking ahead
Steven Lubar
Brown University
2
Overview and some history
Browns public humanities program: MA
program, engaged scholarship, community work
What Ive learned
What Im thinking about
Ive just stopped being director of the Brown public humanities program, which gives me a bit of distance.
Rather than worry about day to day administration, I can step back and think about it. Where did that ten years
go? What would I do if I were starting from scratch today? Thats the looking back and looking ahead for this
talk.
The audience for this talk is, Im told, three groups - students interested in public humanities, faculty thinking
about teaching public humanities, local institutions. I hope theyll be something here for all of you.
3
Looking back...
fff
4
Our changing logos. Of interest for more than just the history of graphic design First one about a beautiful
building. Blue one tried to put it in background, but still informed the design. The next one hid it: our gate, and
NEH H. Last one: pure abstraction: were about overlap. (Its also very similar to the UNESCO cultural diversity
logo.)
Of course, I may be the only one who sees these meanings
5
Mission Statement, 2004
The John Nicholas Brown Center at
Brown University is dedicated to
advancing scholarship and education
in American civilization by
managing, preserving, and providing
access to the Nightingale-Brown
House and the Brown family
archives. The Center serves to
promote scholarly and educational
activities at Brown University and
among people and institutions within
and beyond the region.
When I started: Wonderful house, open as a historic house museum, and a narrow mission: about house and
Brown family. A fellowship program mostly for New England history. (Build in highlighting)
6
Mission Statement, 2005
The John Nicholas Brown Center is
Brown Universitys center for the
public humanities. It supports
students and faculty who connect the
public to history, art, and culture,
and sponsors programs that consider
the ways in which the humanities
enrich everyday life.



The John Nicholas Brown Center
is Brown Universitys center for
the public humanities.
We support students and faculty
that connect the public to
history, art, and culture, and
sponsor programs that consider
the ways in which the
humanities enrich everyday life.
JNBC Programs

M.A. in Public Humanities
Beginning in Fall 2005, Brown's
Department of American Civilization will
offer a new Masters program in the Public
Humanities. This two-year program,
centered at the JNBC, will draw on the
resources of Brown and local museums
and community organizations to train
students for careers in museums, historic
preservation, community cultural
organizations, and other organizations that
connect the public with history, art, ideas
and culture.

Think tank for public humanities
The JNBC will become a think tank for the
public humanities. Through conferences,
seminars, and publications, we hope to
address issues of history and memory,
history and its publics, and the changing
nature of the public sphere.

Continuing education programs
for public humanities professionals
The JNBC sponsors summer, semester,
and shorter programs. Summer 2005
programs are Whats it worth and Why?
The changing meanings of value in
Museums, and New Approaches to Race,
Class and Gender for Museum
Professionals.

Brown University Public
Humanities Grants
The JNBC supports public humanities
programs at Brown University. Small
grants are available for faculty/student
projects in public humanities. Recent
projects include:
FreedomNow! An Archival Project of
Brown University and Tougaloo
College
Perry Visits Japan: A Visual History
Underground Rhode Island album
Bracero community history program
(with the Smithsonian National
Museum of American History)
Not your classroom, onWBSR radio
Olneyville oral history program

Gallery Spaces
Three exhibition spaces are available for
student projects and public presentation.
Period rooms, furnished with a small but
significant collection of decorative arts,
show the house as it appeared when John
and Anne S.K. Brown lived there. The
Carriage House Gallery hosts changing
exhibitions curated by Brown students and
designed by RISD students. Projects
underway include:
Intimacy and Isolation in Providence:
Oral Histories of Artists and
Institution-Builders
From Coachella to Providence: The
Fight for Bilingual Education
The Debate over Modern Art in the
pages of The New Age
A second Carriage House space hosts
installation art projects by Brown visual
arts students.

Archives
The JNBC maintains some 700 linear feet
of archives created by members of the
Brown family spanning the period from the
late nineteenth century to the late

twentieth century. Together, with Brown
family papers at the John Carter Brown
Library and the Rhode Island Historical
Society, these comprise one of the most
complete archival records of any American
family.

And more
The JNBC is a work in progress. Were
eager for suggestions and advice. What
does the world of public humanities need?
Contact us at Box 1880, Brown University,
Providence RI 02912, 401-863-1177, or
jnbc@brown.edu. www.brown.edu/JNBC




The John Nicholas Brown Center
is located at 357 Benefit Street in
the 1792 Nightingale-Brown
house, a National Historic
Landmark on the Brown
University campus. Created in
memory of John Nicholas Brown
in 1979 by his widow and
children, it became a part of
Brown University in 1995.
Text
First step to to change it to public humanities - but here the thing to notice is the focus on students and faculty
connecting to public.
7
Current Mission Statement
The John Nicholas Brown Center for
Public Humanities and Cultural
Heritages innovative MA program,
engaged research, and professional
development workshops help
students, practitioners and
communities make the humanities
meaningful and accessible.
Weve been through a variety of mission statements - its a good class project to rewrite the Centers mission
statement. Now - our programs are all about communities making the humanities meaningful - not about
university. This is key: weve gone from being about us to being about them. Not, well teach you, the
community, about things that we academics know and you should know, but: well help you do the work thats
useful to you.
8
Original Mission Statement
The John Nicholas Brown Center
at Brown University is dedicated to
advancing scholarship and
education in American civilization
by managing, preserving, and
providing access to the
Nightingale-Brown House and the
Brown family archives. The Center
serves to promote scholarly and
educational activities at Brown
University and among people and
institutions within and beyond the
region.
Current Mission Statement
The John Nicholas Brown Center
for Public Humanities and
Cultural Heritages innovative
MA program, engaged research,
and professional development
workshops help students,
practitioners and communities
make the humanities meaningful
and accessible.
A comparison of our rst and current mission statement. Shorter, which is always better.
Ill briey describe our MA program, engaged research, and professional development workshops.
9
MA in Public Humanities
Our major program has been the MA in public humanities. We were the rst to give such a degree - a few
others have come about in the last decade.
Some history: a replacement for the MA in museum studies. An American studies rethink of public history:
public humanities is to American studies as public history is to history.
10
Brown Universitys Public Humanities program trains
students to become interpreters of the humanities to the
public. It provides the knowledge and skills needed for
jobs in museums, historical societies, state and federal
humanities and cultural resource agencies, and historic
preservation and community cultural development
organizations. The graduates of this program bridge the
gap between the university and the community, sharing
and merging the expertise, experience and ways of
knowing of humanities scholars and the public to build
a new, broadly based understanding of culture and
community. They will become leaders of the
organizations that steward our culture.
2007
An early version of what we offered students. This captures the programs early balance between university
and the public - we were most interested in connecting the public to academic humanities and what happened
at universities. You can see the tension in this toward the end: sharing and merging.
11
PUBLIC HUMANITIES
JOIN THEM!
THE
DEFINE OUR STUDENTS
WWW.BROWN.EDU/JNBC
A poster from a few years ago. Students sometimes think that its hard to dene the public humanities and
thats a problem, in looking for jobs. I say yes, its hard, and thats an opportunity! In this yer, we address that
directly!
Part about the program upside down ip it over:
12
PUBLIC HUMANITIES
JOIN THEM!
THE
DEFINE OUR STUDENTS
WWW.BROWN.EDU/JNBC
A poster from a few years ago. Students sometimes think that its hard to dene the public humanities and
thats a problem, in looking for jobs. I say yes, its hard, and thats an opportunity! In this yer, we address that
directly!
Part about the program upside down ip it over:
12
Our graduates are poised to innovate, collaborate, and
lead in the public forums where communities explore
art, history, and culture. Students develop
knowledge of the history, theory, and methods of the
public humanities
expertise in academic subjects appropriate to their
professional goals, and
the practical skills to conduct oral history interviews,
undertake historic preservation projects, manage cultural
programs, curate museum collections, and create exhibits
and Web sites.
the three ways students learn in the program - more detail later.
13
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Our most recent brochure: university not mentioned. Students help communities connect.
14
MA Program
2 required courses, 12 courses total
2 practicums
Other courses balancing practical skills, theory,
and academic content
10-12 students a year, mostly full time
Required: Intro and Method. Strongly recommended: nonprot management.
Our basic program has stayed remarkably consistent. But its time to rethink it - a lot has changed around us in
ten years.
Practicums: one in summer, one during second year. Projects can replace practicums.
15
MA for Ph.D. students
2 required public humanities courses
1 practicum
Public humanities as part of a preliminary eld
or elds
0-3 students a year, out of 3-8 Ph.D. students
16
The graduate program
Dedication to collaborative, applied, and experiential learning
Close working relationships with accomplished faculty and
experienced professionals
A strong curriculum that combines advanced study in arts,
humanities and social sciences, as well as in methods and
technique
Hands-on and skills-based learning
A wide selection of classes that can be congured to meet
students individual learning goals
Projects in partnership with community organizations
This is our ofcial line, and its pretty much true. Challenge: how you balance practical skills and a broader
view - one necessary for immediate jobs, one for longer term.
Mention use of professionals in the eld as adjuncts, workshops, projects.
17
Basic Courses
Introduction to
Public Humanities
This graduate seminar
considers some of the big
questions in the public
humanities, providing a
background that will help
students understand the
choices made in
preserving, interpreting,
and presenting art, history
and culture.
Methods in
Public Humanities
A survey of public
humanities work, including
cultural heritage
preservation and
interpretation, museum
collecting and exhibition,
informal education, and
community cultural
development and their
context in nonprot
organizations
Introduction: Seminar: big questions addressed using theory and case studies. This years big questions: the
public, heritage, and memory. In past: community, culture, curation Readings: from Museums and the Public
Sphere to A Golden Haze of Memory.
Methods: lecture/ seminar: often one or several large projects, usually exhibit projects.
18
AMST 1903H: Space and
Place: Geographies of the
Black Atlantic
AMST 1903Z Shrine House
or Home? Rethinking the
House Museum Paradigm
AMST 2650: Introduction to
Public Humanities
AMST 2653: Public Art,
Theory and Practice
AMST 2656: Cultural Policy
Planning
RISD GRAD 015G01 The
Artist and the Museum
AMST 1903G, Oral History
and Community Memory
AMST 1903J, Art and
Anthropology
AMST 2540: Methods in
Public Humanities
AMST 2690: Management of
Cultural Institutions
AMST 2691: Poetry in service
to schools and the community
Public humanities courses 2013-14
Some co-sponsored with RISD. Some taught by adjuncts, staff and postdocs.
19
Other departments
Africana Studies
American
Studies
Anthropology
Archaeology
Education
English
Ethnic Studies
History of Art
& Architecture
History
Latin American
Studies
Literary Arts
Modern
Culture &
Media
Music
Public Policy
Sociology
Theatre &
Performance
Studies
Urban Studies
Students have taken courses in these departments , among others- this list gives a pretty good sense of our
topics. Note: archaeology and cultural heritage; public policy, education and sociology overlap with nonprots;
urban studies and heritage, cultural policy; music and ethnomusicology; performance studies and community
work.
20
Spring 2014 Workshops
Exhibit Design
Power Tools
Exhibition Development
Basics of Fundraising
Brand Strategy and Market
research
Job Searching Strategies
Self Presentation in the Job
Search
Representations of Slavery in
Museums (co-sponsored w JCBL
and CSSJ)
Alumni Panel
Fellows Chat with Hilda Lorens
Public Speaking
RI Mobile Historical
Arlene Goldbard - Pell Lecture
and community workshops
Oral History, Dance, and
Memory
But we cant teach everything in courses, and so we offer workshops, and also pay for students to take
workshops beyond Brown. In recent years, these have become more practical: job hunting, public speaking.
21
Summer practicums, 2014
Center for Digital Storytelling
(CA)
Great Salt Lake Institute/
Spiral Jetty
Berkman Center for Internet
and Society, Harvard
Whitney Museum of American
Art
Experience Design (RI)
National Museum of
American History
Mildreds Lane (PA)
Dudley Square Neighborhood
Initiative (MA)
Lower East Side Tenement
Museum
Artist Proof Studio
Johannesburg, South Africa)
International Institute of
Rhode Island
Newport Historical Society
And on-job training essential to the eld. Last summers practicums. We have a complicated system of
agreements, writing assignments. Most of these work, but not all.
22
Alumni Careers (2012 survey)
Most frequent areas of employment are: communications
(8); arts managers and other administrators (7); program
directors (3), curatorial (2); interpretation (2); collections
(1); education (1); development (2); research (1); and
positions outside the eld.
The skills that most cite as most valuable in their current
work include: project management (12); communication
and writing (12); public engagement methods (10);
research and specic subject area expertise (9);
collaboration (8).
Institution types: universities (7); government (6); and
museums/galleries (5).
23
Engaged Research
Engaged Research or engaged scholarship is a buzzword that I wrestle with
Overlaps with service-learning, community based research, and public scholarship.
My focus is on reciprocal work with community and integration of teaching, research, and service.
I also think that its about community groups, not just individuals in the community.
In some ways, very much like the old notion of land-grant schools: research for community good. Thats not
necessarily the same thing as social change or social justice or activism- will get to this later.
24
=
Mashapaug Pond Project
Annie Valk, until this summer the Centers deputy director, was the master of this work. Her Fox Point history
and Mashapaug Pond histories are based on new research both archives and from talking to people, sharing
what she learned with the community, and aimed at making the area better. Also worked with artists, and
community groups.
25
Mashapug pond website
26
Fox Point Photo History
Engaged research has different outputs than does regular academic research. This Flickr site, with more than
20,000 photographs, and an accompanying oral history site, are engaged research. Community choices, our
assistance.
27
Fox Point Oral Histories
Interesting to compare the pictures that the community adds to their website and the ones chosen by us for the
oral history website. We have a different sense of what history is, a different set of categories.
28
American Dance
Legacy Initiative
ADLI does research in dance as a way of understanding American history and then gives it back to a wide
range of people - works with local high schools to teach dance and dance history
29
Community work
30
Community Jobs
Action Speaks Radio
American Dance Legacy Initiative
Bell Gallery
Bell Street Chapel
Benet Street Arsenal
Center for the Study of Slavery
and Justice
City of Providence Dept. of Arts,
Culture + Tourism
Class Action Network
Community Music Works
Environmental Justice League of
RI
FirstWorks
"I Was There" at Vartan
Gregorian Elementary School
John Carter Brown Library
Knight Memorial Library
Little Compton Historical Society
Living History 14th Rhode Island
Our students work in the community (and in the university) - the program pays them to work with local
organizations. Some of the recent jobs listed here.
31
Advising and Consulting
Steve:
American Precision
Museum
Boston National
Historical Park
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Brooklyn Historical
Society
Connecticut Humanities
Council
Little Compton Historical
Society
Lockwood-Matthews
Mansion
National Museum of
American History
New Bedford Whaling
Museum
Rhode Island Council for
the Humanities
Annie:
Community Partnership
Center, Roger Williams
University
Providence Public
Library
Little Compton
Historical Society
Broad Street Synagogue
RiverzEdge Arts Project
Forbes House Museum
Friends of Providence
Parks
Barrington Public
Library
Living on the Edge
Project, Roy
Carpenters Beach
Urban Pond Procession
Rhodi Project, RIHS
Ron:
Little Compton
Historical Society
Governor Stephen
Hopkins House
Museum
Westport Historical
Society
Preserve Rhode Island
Governor Henry Lippitt
House Museum
Tiverton Public Library
Benet Street Arsenal
New Bedford Whaling
Museum
Museum staff also does work for local organizations - sometimes getting students involved.
32
Public Humanities Clinic - inspired by Natalie Jeremijenkos Environmental Health Clinic at NYU (http://
www.nyu.edu/projects/xdesign/clinic/)
Never took off - but still worth pursuing.
With that overview of the program, Id like to turn to another way of thinking about the public humanities. That
was what weve done. Next, what Ive learned.
33
What Ive Learned
Seven rules for public humanists
34
What Ive Learned
Seven Rules for Public Humanists
Seven rules for public humanists
34
1. Its not about you.
Start not by looking at what you, your discipline, or the university needs and wants, but by what individuals and
communities outside the university need and want. Its not, were from the university, and were here to help,
but, What are you doing already, and how can we participate? How can we be useful? Its not about telling
people facts. Its about a dialogue, a sharing of authority, knowledge, expertise.
35
Vartan Gregorian
Elementary School,
Fox Point
Back to Fox Point and a class project there. We went into this with one idea about what was important, based
on what seems important to historians. Talk to the kids at the elementary school, and you get a very different
sense of what history seems important.
36
At the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School
37
University Historic
House Museums Project
A recent student project was to try to understand how university-owned historic house museums can be useful.
This was done as consulting work for the Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University in New Jersey. One of the
things we learned was the importance of understanding all of the intersecting communities around historic
house museums.
http://www.brown.edu/academics/public-humanities/news/2014-07/university-afliated-historic-house-
museums
38
...And Heritage for A||!
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~ At a wor|d Heritage Site
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A lecture series sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown
Center Public Humanities Program and the Joukowsky
Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.
This series will explore the problems and practice of
cultural, or heritage, tourism, from many disciplinary
angles and in a cross-cultural context.
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For more information, please contact the John Nicholas Brown
Center at 401 863-1177 or publichumanities@brown.edu.
Monday, November 12, 2007 5:30 p.m.

Cultural? Heritage?
Tourism?
lecture series
None of this will come as a surprise to those of you who look at issues of cultural heritage. Thinking about who
your work is for is central to cultural heritage work, and to public humanities work.
39
Cultural? Heritage?
Tourism?
lecture series
Imagine Providence website
Use tools to let others be heard.
40
StoryCorps, Providence
Another example of using tools to let others tell their story
StoryCorps is the perfect example of the challenge of it not being about us. Oral historians had problems with
StoryCorps; it cuts the experts out. The Public Humanities Center sponsored StoryCorps in Providence.
And its a good transition to Rule #2: Youre not always the expert.
41
2. Be a facilitator and
translator as well as
an expert
Shared authority is complicated. In exhibits, its often an invitation to the subject and to the visitor to provide
their stories, and points of view, and to share in setting the rules. Its using oral history in historical projects and
exhibits. Its web 2.0 methods of opening up online conversations. Having that conversation is not easy.
Finding the right balance is tricky. The humanist needs to be not only an expert, but also a facilitator, and a
translator. Seeking that balance is part of the work of every project.
42
WELCOME TO THE JOHN NICHOLAS BROWN CENTER
C
oc
k
tails
and C
onversation
How to mix a cocktail party? All you
need to provide is a stage for the
extroverts, an excuse for the heavy
drinkers, girls for the boys - and let
the potato chips fall where they may.
Helen Markel, How to mix a cocktail
party, The New York Times, Nov. 2, 1958
The cocktail party revolutionized
entertaining in the 1950s. The hour of
the cocktail ritualized the transition
between the strict codes of the
workplace and the unabashed gaiety
of playtime throughout the twentieth
century. During the 1950s in particular,
cocktail consumption became the
popular means of expressing and
experiencing the new social construct
of the century, the pursuit of leisure.
For both men and women, hosting a
cocktail party was as much about social
organization and position as it was
about entertaining.
The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design
is planning the exhibition Cocktail Culture for 2010. The
exhibition will explore the cultural and social signicance
of cocktails in the twentieth century as manifested through
fashion and design. The language invented for and by the
cocktail culture of the twentieth century will be illustrated
by the glamour and sophistication of Christian Dior and
Chanel, the kitsch and whimsy of the Tiki lounge, examples of
furniture, barware, fashion, graphic arts, and even table linens
produced solely for the purpose of consuming cocktails.
Christian Dior, Cocktail Dress, Fall/Winter 1954. Gift of Ronald and Lillian Dick. Photography by Erik Gould, courtesy of Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
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Program with
RISD Museum
Not only a fun project: but perhaps being a host at a cocktail party is a model for public humanities. Youre a
facilitator, you help others make connections. Not about you, but youre a catalyst to help interact better.
43
Broad Street
Synagogue
A student project to try to nd new uses for this building. Complicated process: students were involved in
making connections between the new community who lives in the area and the former members of the
synagogue, and the group that owns the building today.
44
3. Scholarship starts
with public
engagement
The work of public engagement comes not after the scholarship, but as part of the scholarship. I dont like the
implications of applied or translational; those terms suggest we do our work, in our normal way, and that it is
then converted into something for the public. Theres a model here in the transformation of public art. In the
1970s, public art was all too often an art project sprung on a community by a government agency. It came from
the artist, doing his own work, responding to his own community. Public art has moved to a model of
community interaction. Its not just for the public; it comes from the public. What would humanities scholarship
look like if it too developed out of a conversation? What if a humanities department was a hub of a community
of artists, educators, scholars and the public?
45
Educating Change: Latina Activism and
the Struggle for Educational Equity
Matt Garcia project: based on his research, student research, community engagement. Undergraduates and
MA students involved. Worked with community to both tell their story and to give them tools to tell their own
story.
http://www.brown.edu/Research/Coachella/
46
Chinese Food
Weve done a lot with food studies in the program. This was reected in an exhibition, and two graduate
students in the program took work they had done talking with restaurant owners and published papers in
Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader
47
4. Communities
dene community
Community is important, and hard to dene. Were fascinated by the relationship of community and culture.
But community is complicated, and best dened by the community, not by academics looking in. And so, in my
experience, its better to work with existing organizations than to try to invent them. Public humanities
programs acknowledge that there already exist community organizations, institutions, and leaders, and try to
work with them, rather than come in and try to create programs that we think the communities need.
48
Mashapaugs Neighbors project
I already mentioned Mashapaug Pond projects: oral history, cell phone tours, working with local schools,
Urban Pond Procession.
49
Underground
Rhode Island
50
Cape Verdean Fox Point was a vibrant, close-knit community
that was displaced by urban renewal, gentrication, and
the expansion of Brown University. But the community lives
on in former residents memories, and in the photographs,
archives, and artifacts so many residents saved. Their
memories and stories come alive in this exhibit.
May 11October 16, 2009
MondayFriday, 14 p.m.
John Nicholas Brown Center
357 Benet Street, Providence, RI
www.brown.edu/jnbc
Remember the Old Times: Cape Verdean Community in Fox Point, 19201945
is a student-curated and executed exhibition that tells the story of the history and culture
of the Cape Verdean community that lived in the Fox Point neighborhood.
C
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Remember the
Old Times Fox
Point exhibit
Already mentioned the Fox Point project - this was a class exhibition. One of the things the students learned
was just how hard it is to dene community. So many ways people dene themselves, so many different
groups within communities: by gender, neighborhood, family
51
The Fox Point exhibit welcomed many Fox Pointers
52
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead altar, a student exhibit at the Haffenreffer Museum, working with local teen groups
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Tejela: Weaving Stories,
Weaving Lives
A series of student exhibition projects on Guatemalan textiles. Worked with the Haffenreffer Museum of
Anthropology, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and a local co-op of Guatemalan weavers in New Bedford.
http://www.whalingmuseum.org/explore/exhibitions/tejela-weaving-stories-weaving-lives-2013
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Tejela: Weaving Stories,
Weaving Lives
Worked with local weavers, who demonstrated crafts.
This leads to my next rule: work with artists.
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5. Collaborate with
artists
Calling something art rather than scholarship is a very freeing move. You have more exibility. But working with
artists to both perform and understand culture at the same time is best. You become part of the community
culture, you support it, and you help a larger public appreciate it.
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A student project that looked at our historic house in a new way: letting artists be inspired by its history
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Ben Katchors The
Insomniacs Mansion
Fortunate to have faculty interested in art as a kind of scholarship. Paul Buhle brought us some amazing
contacts with artists he had worked with.
Its been an interesting way for faculty to expand their work. Not all of this is directly public humanities, but its
a form of academic connection with a wider public.
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Worked with RISD student to design this one
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5PCN5CPED BY THE BPCWN UNIVEP5ITY CPEATIVE APT5 CCUNCIL, THE JCHN NICHCLA5 BPCWN CENTEP
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A SYMPOSIUM AND EXHIBITION
Jews and American
COMICS
Jews and
American
Comics
Another Paul Buhle project
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Los Bros Hernandez exhibition - brought by Prof. Ralph Rodriguez
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Stih & Schnock
A project by two German artists on memorials, with Prof. Beverly Havilland.
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Cora Marshall,
Emancipated
Memories
A student-curated exhibition of paintings based on runaway slave advertisements
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Cora Marshall
Fox Point Comics
Artist: Alec Thibodeau
Artist Alec Thibodeau working with the Fox Point oral history project, making oral history work available in a
new way.
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The Lost Museum
Finally, our most recent work, with artist Mark Dion. A re-collection of Browns lost Jenks Museum of Natural
History.
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6. Think Digital
The digital opens up new opportunities for outreach, of course. But it is important to go beyond the digital as
outreach to take advantage of digitals promise of a new kind of openness, a chance to share not just the
output of a project, but every step along the way. And it opens up the opportunity for many voices, many ways
of telling a story.
Not the same as digital humanities - not so much digital as a tool for analysis, more as a tool for connections -
And not something weve done as well as we should.
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Fox Point Photo History Project
Fox Point Flickr, from some time ago, still seems the most interesting. How can we use free public tools to
make public humanities projects?
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Rhode
Tour
Working with the RI Council for the Humanities: student project (courses and jobs), many community partners.
Based on Curatescape.
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Another Curatescape project
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Call of Lovecraft
augmented reality app
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7. Humanists need
practical skills
Doing public humanities takes specic practical skills, and universities should teach them. That means
changing PhD programs, and providing new training for faculty. We shouldnt assume that working with
communities is a skill that comes along with a traditional humanities Ph.D. Practical, hands-on skills,
everything from oral history to reading balance sheets, is essential to the work of the public humanities.
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Project Management
From project management to research to exhibition design and implementation
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The Museum of
Westminster Street
to research skills:
From The Museum of Westminster Street - research every object on the street. (Credit to Lyra Monteiro for
this project)
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Guantanamo Public
Memory Project
To teaching-to the public skills
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A.A. TO ZOUAVE
COLLECTI ONS AT BROWN F
R
O
M
An exhibition honoring
the treasures of Brown
Universitys collections.
From the coffee pot that
launched a thousand
Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings to a hand-knit
cap from a Civil War
Zouave regiment, see
what Browns libraries,
museums, and galleries
have to offer.
Curated by students
in American Civilizations
Methods in Public
Humanities course.
DECEMBER 11, 2007 MAY 30, 2008
Monday Friday, 1 5 p.m.
ANNMARY BROWN MEMORIAL
21 Brown Street , Providence, Rhode Island
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
For more information, please contact the John Nicholas Brown
Center at 401-863-1177 or publichumanities@brown.edu.
Sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center Public Humanities
Program and the Brown University Librar y.
A.A. To Zouave exhibition
Student projects have been a key part of the program. Many exhibitions, but also programs and other events.
Content, project management, and public work. Some are class projects, some not.
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A-Z Exhibit
To knowing how to hang banners on the side of buildings
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Pulp Uncovered
to organizing events
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Sexual Education in the 20th Century
BEYOND
the Birds and the Bees
Beyond the Birds
and the Bees
...to talking about difcult topics
So there are seven rules based on what Ive learned. But like all good rules, they just open up new questions.
The last part of this talk: Future: some big questions.
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Future Big Questions
Big questions or [click] some of the things Im worrying about now, issues that I think the eld needs to
consider.
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Future Big Questions
Or, what Im worrying about
Big questions or [click] some of the things Im worrying about now, issues that I think the eld needs to
consider.
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Public humanities
and
social change
Is public humanities about describing or about
changing society and culture?
The one my students are most interested in: is public humanities about social change? Three related issues -
social change, politics, social entrepreneurship.
Social change - almost every museum and nonprot describes their work this way now. And certainly public
humanities can work for social change. Id argue that it doesnt necessarily have to do so. Sometimes its
enough to just describe. Indeed, describing, and letting others draw conclusions, seems to me a very public
humanities way to work.
An example I like: Temple Universitys Art Gallery Funeral for a Home
82
Public humanities
and
social change
Is public humanities about describing or about
changing society and culture?
The one my students are most interested in: is public humanities about social change? Three related issues -
social change, politics, social entrepreneurship.
Social change - almost every museum and nonprot describes their work this way now. And certainly public
humanities can work for social change. Id argue that it doesnt necessarily have to do so. Sometimes its
enough to just describe. Indeed, describing, and letting others draw conclusions, seems to me a very public
humanities way to work.
An example I like: Temple Universitys Art Gallery Funeral for a Home
82
Public humanities
and
activism
How about public humanities and social
justice? How political is the eld?
Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown, spoke Friday at the opening of the new Center for the Study of
Slavery and Justice. The Providence paper reported she said it should not be a hub for activism - what she
said was more nuanced, about it being a place for research and debate - which to her is a kind of activism
Public humanities is more than research and debate, but maybe less than activism.
Could we invent a radical public humanities? One might look at an old form of labor activism here - before Taft-
Hartley, when unions did cultural activities, whether the Wobblies or the Old Left. Or today, at whats being
called alt-labor - non-union workers groups. (My thanks to Kate Dietrich for her discussions on this topic.)
One might look at the way in which ethnic studies, in many universities, is tied to activism. Or at many kinds of
social practice art.
83
Public humanities
and
social entrepreneurship
Is there a non-non-prot public humanities?
Can public humanities make you rich?
Social entrepreneurship is the buzzword of the modern university, and public humanities programs need to
gure out how to incorporate it. The basic idea of social entrepreneurship is doing things that were once done
by non-prots, for prot: socially useful businesses. I must admit it stumps me; we need more organizational
expertise, less entrepreneurial expertise. More precisely: we need people who can be entrepreneurial inside of
organizations, rather than being entrepreneurial by setting up new organizations.
Best example of the for-prot public humanities - the original Folkways Records.
84
Public humanities
and
social entrepreneurship
Is there a non-non-prot public humanities?
Can public humanities make you rich?
Social entrepreneurship is the buzzword of the modern university, and public humanities programs need to
gure out how to incorporate it. The basic idea of social entrepreneurship is doing things that were once done
by non-prots, for prot: socially useful businesses. I must admit it stumps me; we need more organizational
expertise, less entrepreneurial expertise. More precisely: we need people who can be entrepreneurial inside of
organizations, rather than being entrepreneurial by setting up new organizations.
Best example of the for-prot public humanities - the original Folkways Records.
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Public humanities
and
technology
Digital humanities is one approach, because
the digital is easily public - but that doesnt
mean that it is accessible. But theres many
other technologies we should think about.
Digital humanities has many meanings.
An example of the high-tech social entrepreneurship: The Civic Media Lab at MIT - shown is one of their data
murals -- Contratados - what my student Kate Dietrich calls Yelp for migrant workers.
85
Public humanities
and
technology
Digital humanities is one approach, because
the digital is easily public - but that doesnt
mean that it is accessible. But theres many
other technologies we should think about.
Digital humanities has many meanings.
An example of the high-tech social entrepreneurship: The Civic Media Lab at MIT - shown is one of their data
murals -- Contratados - what my student Kate Dietrich calls Yelp for migrant workers.
85
Public humanities
and
technology
Digital humanities is one approach, because
the digital is easily public - but that doesnt
mean that it is accessible. But theres many
other technologies we should think about.
Digital humanities has many meanings.
An example of the high-tech social entrepreneurship: The Civic Media Lab at MIT - shown is one of their data
murals -- Contratados - what my student Kate Dietrich calls Yelp for migrant workers.
85
Public humanities
and
the humanities crisis
Only if you dene the humanities narrowly
the humanities is what humanities professors
dois there a crisis.
A next group of questions about public humanities at the university.
The humanities crisis is really a crisis of denition if you dene the humanities as what humanities
professors and grad students do, or want to do, theres a crisis. If you dene it as people performing their
culture, and understanding their roots, and making community, and creating things based on tradition and
innovation the humanities are going strong.
What that suggests to me is that the way to cure the humanities crisis is to broaden the denition of the
humanities.
But there is a crisis of the humanities - add one word to this title.
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Public humanities
and
the humanities crisis
jobs
^
Only if you dene the humanities narrowly
the humanities is what humanities professors
dois there a crisis.
But there is a crisis in the humanities in the university. At the graduate level, most of that is connected to the
lack of good, tenure-track jobs for PhDs, and the universitys resistance for reasons having to do with
teaching needs and the nature of disciplines for cutting the size and number of PhD programs.
That brings me to ways to change the phd.
87
Public humanities
and
the Ph.D.
Should you get a Ph.D to do public
humanities? Should all Ph.D students do
public humanities? How should the Ph.D
change to make it more useful?
The Ph.D. Is a vocational degree, designed to train professors at research universities. As its designed now,
its not good training for almost anything else.
It could be. I believe that the Ph.D. should change to include public humanities: practical skills, working with
communities, etc. I am taken with the idea of a professional humanities doctorate, along the lines of a J.D. or
an M.D. - a four year, research and practiced base course aimed not at teaching but at the real world. (See
proposal by Johann Neem in October in Inside Higher Education.)
88
Public humanities
and
undergraduates
If the public humanities is professional
training, is that appropriate for
undergraduates?
I see public humanities as a profession, and Im old fashioned in thinking that undergraduate studies should
not be professional.
However, I think that theres much useful in public humanities work as a piece of a humanities undergraduate
degree: talking to a wider audience, getting out to the community
Browns American studies junior seminar is one approach: the public dened as each professor sees useful,
some about the public, some working with the public.
Next: three worries, beyond the university.
89
Public humanities
and
undergraduates
If the public humanities is professional
training, is that appropriate for
undergraduates?
I see public humanities as a profession, and Im old fashioned in thinking that undergraduate studies should
not be professional.
However, I think that theres much useful in public humanities work as a piece of a humanities undergraduate
degree: talking to a wider audience, getting out to the community
Browns American studies junior seminar is one approach: the public dened as each professor sees useful,
some about the public, some working with the public.
Next: three worries, beyond the university.
89
Public humanities
and
public intellectuals
Is there a new online kind of public
intellectual that connects academics
scholarship, big ideas, and politics?
I dont see how we can train students to become public intellectuals. to compete with the likes of Te-Nehasi
Coates in The Atlantic?
I think we can train students to write well, and blog well, and to be public with their work.
90
Public humanities
and
public intellectuals
Is there a new online kind of public
intellectual that connects academics
scholarship, big ideas, and politics?
I dont see how we can train students to become public intellectuals. to compete with the likes of Te-Nehasi
Coates in The Atlantic?
I think we can train students to write well, and blog well, and to be public with their work.
90
Public humanities
and
the nonprots jobs crisis
Were training students to do great work, but
who will pay them for it?
The bubble of museum studies and public
history programs
This worries me more than the university job crisis I dont have an answer for it. Weve dened this work as
91
Public humanities:
the personal and the
professional
How to separate the visceral from the
intellectual, but keep the connection. Caring,
but being professional.
End with this one - is a very important question. Yes, you want to be able to separate the visceral from the
intellectual - but to keep that connection when you need it. It's a source of power, and engagement. You want
to care deeply about your work - but also, when it's necessary, switch into professional engagement mode.
People talk about code-switching - ipping between languages, cultures. Maybe there's something like that for
public humanities. You're in the business because you care deeply. But at the same time, you bring more than
just caring; you bring a set of professional skills. How and when you use each, and combine them, is one of
the challenges of the work.
The personal is what makes this work so appealing - the professional is necessary to do it well - the challenge
is to nd the right combination
92
Thank you.
End with this one - is a very important question. Yes, you want to be able to separate the visceral from the
intellectual - but to keep that connection when you need it. It's a source of power, and engagement. You want
to care deeply about your work - but also, when it's necessary, switch into professional engagement mode.
People talk about code-switching - ipping between languages, cultures. Maybe there's something like that for
public humanities. You're in the business because you care deeply. But at the same time, you bring more than
just caring; you bring a set of professional skills. How and when you use each, and combine them, is one of
the challenges of the work.
The personal is what makes this work so appealing - the professional is necessary to do it well - the challenge
is to nd the right combination
93