If we want the humanities to be more than academic—if we want them to make a difference in the world—we need to change the way we work. We need to rethink some of the traditional assumptions of the humanities. I suggest here seven rules of thumb for doing public humanities.
(Distributed August 29, 2014)
Program Series Launching in September 2014: Bringing Guantánamo Home
Last June, I interviewed a former resident of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (or GTMO). In the oddly formal setting of the downstairs sitting room at the public humanities center, she shared memories of high school, friends and the close-knit community at the base. For her, GTMO epitomized the post-WWII all-American small town. It represented what is best about this country.
In his feedback on my final project for Digital Storytelling (AMST 2699) my teacher Tyler Denmead, PhD, wrote, “Your discovery of PowerPoint’s potential has obviously been transformative for you this semester.” Wow, that made me stop and think. “Transformative” is a very powerful word. Falling in love is transformative. Having a baby is transformative. Was PowerPoint really transforming me? And wouldn’t it be a little sad if it was?
Since its creation in 1848 as City Hall Park, Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence has undergone continuous, rapid, and significant change. It has served as a transportation hub for horses, carriages, trolleys, and buses. Buildings have been built up, torn down, abandoned and renovated. Audiences have watched Houdini perform feats of magic, John F. Kennedy speak, and the aerial performers of Bandaloop dance on the side of a building.
On Thursday, April 25, The Center for Public Humanities is co-sponsoring the 2013 Senator Pell Lecture on Arts and Humanities, titled, Now is the Time!: Expanding Access to Arts Opportunities in the Creative Capital.
A panel conversation features experts from Hartford, the Bronx, and Boston, who will discuss how their respective initiatives have made great strides in redressing the decline of arts and humanities opportunities for urban children and young people.
What do Rhode Island’s official state bird, a Revolutionary War Battle, and kitschy 1970s comedian and game show stalwart Charles Nelson Reilly have in common? Their stories will be included on a new mobile smartphone application called Sakonnet Historical, developed through collaboration between the Tiverton Public Library, the Little Compton Historical Society, and students from the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities.