Stepping outside the Circle

“Draw a circle around yourself.  Don’t step out and don’t let anyone or anything in.”  This advice greeted me when I arrived for orientation to my PhD program in history.   Offered by one of the most senior professors in the department, these words were intended to help the arriving cohort successfully navigate the demands of graduate study.  Our priority for the next several years, we quickly learned, must be our individual mastery of scholarship in our fields; if we prevailed and became faculty members, as intended, this separation from the cares of the world shou

(Distributed September 4, 2013)

Sakonnet Historical and the GPS Humanities Revolution

In the final months of his presidency, William Clinton ordered the United States military to unscramble the satellite signal it uses for global positioning, increasing the accuracy of civilian GPS from a 100-yard margin of error in the year 2000, to about 10 feet today. Immediate benefits included improved navigation for boaters and hikers, accuracy of systems utilized by emergency responders, and resolution of U.S. Geological Survey topographical quad maps. The Clinton administration also foresaw a boom in GPS-related industry and profits.

(Distributed August 27, 2013)

The Call of Lovecraft

My summer practicum has been spent, in part, at WaterFire Providence. A much-beloved Providence institution for nearly 20 years, WaterFire is, "an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy."

(Distributed August 13, 2013)

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.

(Distributed July 18, 2013)

The Value of Digital Storytelling for Small Museums: or, How PowerPoint 2013 Transformed My Life

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?

(Distributed July 10, 2013)

Brown History Exhibition

Brown’s 250th anniversary is 2014, and the Public Humanities Center will participate in many ways. Students in AMST1550, Methods in Public Humanities, took the lead. Here’s the assignment: 

(Distributed July 1, 2013)

Reflecting Change: City. Plaza. People.

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.

(Distributed June 17, 2013)
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