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Category: Public humanities

Course for the fall: Introduction to Public Humanities

Course for the fall: Introduction to Public Humanities

It’s that more-than-half-way through the summer inflection point when suddenly it seems that school starts too soon. It’s time to think about fall semester. One of my courses this fall is my usual Introduction to Public Humanities, the seminar for new MA students in the public humanities program, along with a few others who seem to have interesting things to say. At the end of last year’s course I asked the students to fill out a survey on the course. They graded each…

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Writing about the past, thinking about the future: National Museum of American History

Writing about the past, thinking about the future: National Museum of American History

My article on the history and philosophy of collecting at the National Museum of American History has been published in the Federal History Journal. The issue is freely available, here, and my essay is here. It’s a good issue: I especially recommend the article by Margo Anderson, “Public Management of Big Data: Historical Lessons from the 1940s.” My essay was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the NMAH. I used to work there, and a former colleague asked me to write something. The director was…

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Joint Statement from Museum Bloggers and Colleagues on Ferguson and related events

Joint Statement from Museum Bloggers and Colleagues on Ferguson and related events

I am pleased to join a group of distinguished museum folks in this statement about the role of museums in addressing contemporary issues. The public humanities puts community at the center of its theory and asks: How might cultural institutions be useful to community? The recent events help to focus that question. We should ask not what we should do now, but what should we have been doing all along to build the community connections we need to be useful now?…

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Public and Digital Humanities

Public and Digital Humanities

I enjoyed speaking with Melissa Rayner as part of Gale/Cengage’s GaleGeeks webcasts. You can enjoy a recording here. (For those of you who listened closely and noted that I couldn’t remember the name of my favorite tool for visualizing collections: it’s viewshare, at http://viewshare.org/.)

My talk at Mt. Holyoke: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

My talk at Mt. Holyoke: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Here are my slides and my notes from a talk I gave at Mt. Holyoke College for the (long name!) Five Colleges, Inc. / Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Bridging Initiative in the Public and Applied Humanities. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity, both because writing the talk allowed me to look back over the past decade of the public humanities program at Brown, and also because it’s great to see smart people thinking through how public humanities might work for them…

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Beautiful Data

Beautiful Data

I spent the last two weeks of June at Beautiful Data, a workshop funded by the Getty Foundation and run by Harvard’s MetaLab. I’m not sure why the name, “Beautiful Data”: but it seems fair, given that the workshop address both data about beautiful things and data made beautiful by its utility. The question for the workshop was what we might do with the newly available data about the collections in art museums. The workshop was pretty intense. Twenty two…

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Seven Rules for Public Humanists

Seven Rules for Public Humanists

  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. 1. It’s 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…

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Applied? Translational? Open? Digital? Public? New models for the humanities

Applied? Translational? Open? Digital? Public? New models for the humanities

How do the humanities change when we take engaged public scholarship seriously? Considering five adjectives that are being put in front of the word “humanities”—applied, translational, open, digital, and public humanities—helps us consider the possibilities of humanities beyond the academy. This essay considers the way these adjectives modify the humanities. It considers their history, the different emphases they bring to bear. How much are they about new kinds of outreach for traditional work, how much about changing the nature of…

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