The New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Requests for Proposals. These are competitive seed grants for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium.
Curation at a Distance
Curating at a Distance is a working group composed of curators at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Tufts University Art Galleries, and Colby College Museum of Art that will research and pilot innovative solutions for presenting artworks and virtual exhibitions online that go beyond digital renderings of physical exhibitions. Through the convening of technical experts in the field and the gathering of ideas from museum colleagues, faculty, academic educators, and artists, the group will develop creative and collaborative pedagogical tools that will become resources for the NEHC.
The group’s convenings will result in a set of guidelines to create cross-institutional virtual exhibitions and meaningful engagement with artworks that speak to contemporary issues relevant to students today. Participating curators will develop a model for the co-creation of valuable teaching resources with input from humanities faculty and will create content collaboratively that will implement the group’s findings.
- Lisa Crossman, Curator of American Art and Arts of the Americas, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
- Dina Deitsch, Director and Chief Curator, Tufts University Art Galleries, Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Medford and Boston, MA
- David E. Little, John Wieland 1958 Director and Chief Curator, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
- Diana Tuite, Katz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Colby College Museum of Art, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Shade: Labor Diasporas, Tobacco, Mobility, and the Urban Nexus
Shade: Labor Migration, Tobacco, Mobility and the Urban Nexus is an interdisciplinary collective of humanities scholars investigating the ways that U.S. imperialism, colonization, corporate industry, and white settler normativity have evolved and matured in the Connecticut River Valley. The Shade Collective engages interdisciplinary collaborations to center the history and culture of the region’s local communities and global labor diasporas. While migration and labor histories associated with the valley’s tobacco industry remain politically invisible, laborers continue to shape the rural and urban spaces of the region in the course of giving their life meaning. Tobacco laborers attached their own meaning of place and space to their memories and their imaginations of the Connecticut River Valley.
The 2021 summer seminar “Undisciplining Performance” investigates the role that performance theory and practice play in troubling disciplinary boundaries that perpetuate hierarchies of value around bodies of knowledge and their attendant social formations. Researchers will conduct a 20-day seminar that combines “distance” and “face-to-face” collaboration. The seminar has three missions: the first is to support our interdisciplinary research and teaching, the second is to foster and strengthen intellectual and pedagogical collaboration across consortium member institutions, and the third is to build a regional conversation about the critical role of performance studies for the future of the humanities. As junior faculty from Colby, Tufts, and URI, we are eager to build on the NEHC mission and model of exchange and collaboration to further humanist knowledge of history and theory using performance.
Journal of a Plague Year
A Journal of a Plague Year is a crowdsourced digital archive that aims to create a lasting historical record of the global experience of COVID-19. This archive is an open repository: anyone can explore its holdings, gather and add items, or curate exhibits, maps, and stories based on its collections. The archive is committed to preserving diverse voices in order to represent the breadth and depth of experiences during this uncertain time. Victoria Cain, in association with Natali Valdez, will create course modules designed to help faculty and students use the archive. These modules will promote primary source literacy, an inclusive understanding of local history and narrative, and more sophisticated understandings of ethical archiving and data-inflected storytelling. Students will contribute to the archives in meaningful ways, ensuring the stories of all people, including underrepresented communities, are heard now and in the future.
Maintaining Accessibility and Developing Resources for Keeping It 101: A Killjoy’s Introduction to Religion Podcast
Keeping it 101: A Killjoy’s Introduction to Religion is the podcast that helps listeners make sense of religion. Why religion? Well, if you read the news, have a body, exist in public, or think about race, gender, class, ability, or sexuality, you likely also think about religion — even if you don’t know it yet. Hosted by Megan Goodwin and Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, two professors whose research and teaching intersect around race, gender, nationalism, imperialism, and religion, Keeping it 101 shows listeners why religion is both a lot more important and a little easier to understand than you might think. Each episode has a topic: a core idea we’re trying to get the audience to think through. We’ve got critique on critique, gender, race, sexuality, and imperial theory. Also jokes. Many jokes.
Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of the Native and African American Presence on Block Island
Our team grant will support fieldwork and planning that will lead to the development of a temporary, traveling exhibition, opening in July 2022, titled “Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of the Native and African American Presence on Block Island.” In collaboration with members of the Gobern family of Block Island and East Providence, scholars at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and University of Connecticut (UConn) are working with the Tomaquag Museum and a number of local museums with an interest in hosting this exhibit, which will include audiovisual content created by award-winning documentarian, Kendall Moore, Native and colonial cultural artifacts, archival and contemporary photographs and images, written records, and interpretive materials designed to provoke audience engagement and reflection. After its initial display at a number of regional museums, the exhibit will eventually find a permanent residence at the Gobern family homestead on Block Island, the future site of a Manissean community center.
Reactivating and Reshaping Humanities Communities: Collaborative Humanistic Inquiry inNineteenth-Century Britain and Today
“Reactivating and Reshaping Humanities Communities: Collaborative Humanistic Inquiry in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Today” takes nineteenth-century communities of humanistic inquirers (working men’s clubs, libraries, natural history museums, the first mass distance learning program, the Boy Scouts) as inspiration to rethink humanities education. What institutions, in the nineteenth-century and today, complicate or help to redefine the function of the humanities? How might public humanities projects, specifically those engaged with nineteenth-century Britain, reactivate learning communities within and beyond the university: on campus, in local organizations, and online? What humanistic projects do participants want to pursue? What histories of humanistic inquiry might we find in the records of our communities? Building to a Spring 2021 symposium, the project involves identifying colleagues and partners across NEHC institutions who can guest lecture in classes (sharing expertise and bringing in new definitions of the humanities) and collaborating with off-campus partners to broaden definitions of humanities social impact.