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 and their students.

Lots of good questions and discussion after the talk. Some of the things I’m still thinking about…  What’s the role of the state in this, either in the guise of state universities, or federal agencies, or more generally? How do undergraduates fit into this work? What’s the right balance of practical job skills and bigger-picture concerns? What role does activism play in the public humanities? And how to balance community heritage, on the one hand, with the difficult, hard to discuss questions that arise between communities. Thank you to all who attended, and asked good questions.

On a side note: I was particularly pleased to speak at Mt. Holyoke because it gave me the chance to see the Joseph ALlen Skinner Museum. One of the few eclectic everything-some-guy-collected museums at an American university, it’s got great opportunities for teaching – but also, of course, some real challenges.

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