Sei sulla pagina 1di 6

AMST2650 : Introductio n to Public Humanities Fall 2015 Steven Lubar

Class: Wednesday 3:00 - 5:3 0, Nightingale - Brown House Office Hours: Monday 2 - 4 or by appointment

Course Description

This graduate seminar considers some of the big questions in the public hu manities, providing a background that will help students understand the choices made in preserving, interpreting, and presenting art, his tory and culture. We address the se issues by reading theory and discussing case studies to see how theory plays out in practice , and by considering contemporary projects in the light of both theory and historical examples .

The course is organized into four parts. Part 1 addresses the idea of the public . W ho are the “public s ” in public humanities? What is the relationship that we, as professionals, should have with them? How might we best work with them? P art 2 considers the subject of much of our work: “the other ” ; what is our relationship with the objects of our interpretations? Part 3 focuses one kind of “other” : the pas t . How do es society decide what’s worth remembering? What role do we, as public humanities professionals, play in shaping , sharing, and interpreting public memories ? And finally, we end the course by considering ourselves, the “experts.” What is the nature of public humanities work? How does the work we do shape us?

How the course works: there’s a book, or several articles, to read each week. You should also keep up with contemporary writing on the web and in popular and professional media. In e ach class, we’ll discuss the reading , and consider contemporary issues that raise some of the same questions.

The point of this course is not to critique the literature, but to learn from it. Our goal is to understand the issues in working with culture, and with th e public. As you read, and in class discussions, try to come up with a set of rules, concerns, techniques, and considerations for public humanities work. How might what we read be applied to exhibits, collections, performance, in preserving the build envir onment, and interpreting the world around us? How do these authors, and the public and professionals they write about, think about culture, the public, the past, and the institutions in which they work?

Course Prerequisites

This course is designed for gra duate students interested in work in public humanities institutions.

Required and Optional Texts and Materials

All of the readings for the course are available online through Canvas an d the Brown University Library, or available for purchase at the bookst ore and on reserve at the Library and the Public Humanities Center. Canvas includes a range of additional readings. Note that there are many related books and article on reserve in the library , on Canvas, and in the JNBC library , and I’ll add more as the c ourse progresses . Additional readings (including books and articles considered for the class but not in the syllabus) are available at my Zotero page, ms/collectionKey/Q94R2F6R .

Course policies

Attendance: Please try to attend every class, but if there are other engagements at class time that will also be useful to your education and professional development , it’s up to you to make the call on which is more likely to be valuable. Please let me know if you’re not able to make the c lass.

Participation: The class only works if you participate. Please read the readings, read further in areas of interest, write on the blog and on Twitter, and come to class prepared to discuss what you’ve read and thought about . Participation is evaluated by the quality of your comments: I’m interested not so much in critique, or your opinions of the readings, as in what useful approaches and techniques you can gain from them . Be constructive:

refer to the readings, present new information from your experience and from outside readings, and suggest new ideas. Participation should be a dialog, building on my remarks, and other students’ contributions, as part of a conversation. You should speak up when you have something to say; in general, that should be more than once in each class. Continue the conversation beyond class, through Twitter or other social media

Late work and make up: I would rather see an excellent paper than a less - good one turned in on time. Exceptions are when we are working with an outside organization or on group projects: in those cases, meeting deadlines is essential. As long as you turn in all of your work by the end of the course you’ll get credit for it . I’m happy to read preliminary drafts of any assignment, or a second, improved, version. And email or come talk to me if you’d like to discuss your assignments as you’re working on them, or after you’ve turned them in.

Field trips: Plan to attend the t rip to New York City November 20 .

Student responsibilities


Read assigned work. Note: Read strategically, to get what you need out of the book. On ho w to read for graduate seminars see, for example, Miriam Sweeney’s or Larry Cebula’s blog posts.

Read, throughout the semester, newspapers, journals and websites that address issues related t o the class, for example, the New York Times, Art in America,, Museum News, The Public Historian , CRM , , , , , or . Browse the books in the Center for Public Humanities library. You should also follow and browse my blog and the Cente r for Public Humanities blog occasionally. Follow appropriate Twitter feeds. Keeping up with the literature, online and in print, is a professional responsibility.

Read the class blog each week before class .

Discussion (20 percent of grade)

Participate in class discussion. Good discussion requires everyone to contribute . C ome to class prepared with interesting things to say. L isten to what other students say . B uild on what’s been said before.

Participate in out - of - class discussion, online. P ost links an d comments on Twitter, using the hashtag

#amst2 65 0. Note interesting bits in the class reading. Call our attention to events, exhibits, programs, and writings that you think will be of interest. O n twitter, follow @lubar, @publichumans, and others in the c lass.

Interview with a graduate of the Public Humanities program (10 percent of grade)

Interview an alumnus/alumna of the public humanities program about “life after the M.A.” The interview should focus on the work that individual now does and how it relates to the larger field of public humanities. You can present your interview in whatever way you like: a short essay, a photo essay, or an audio, video, or multimedia presentation suitable for posting on the Center’s website. D raft due October 8 , final pr oduct due Oc tober 22 . Submit via Canvas.

Blog writing assignment s (20 percent of grade)

By Tuesday before each class, post to the blog ( - 2650 - s01/ ) a short ( 5 0 - 2 00 word) ess ay related to the reading for that week. (Do at least ten of these.) For example, you might post some theoretical or historiographical background, a critique of the argument, a summary of some aspect of the reading, or a related case study. We’ll use these to help guide our class discussion. NOTE:

the blog is open to the public.

Here ’s what makes a good blog post. The first sentence, or perhaps the first paragraph, should make it clear what you’re writing about and your point of view. Consider your audien ce: the main audience for this writing is the rest of the class, so you can assume a good bit of knowledge and background. Make an argument. Use words like “I think” or “I suggest .” Use images when possible. Be sure to give you blog entry categories and ta gs.

Lead a class discussion on a practical topic related to one week’s reading ( 20 percent of grade)

The issues we address in this course have real - world, political, practical implications, and we’ll spend an hour or so of each class addressing them. Sig n up to take responsibility for one week’s practical conversation. Pick a topic from the news or from the world of public humanities institutions, meet with me to discuss it, and share with the class some readings on the topic the Monday before class. In c lass, we’ll consider the ways that public humanities professionals might deal with the challenges of the topic.

Two l ong er writing assignment s ( 15 percent of grade each )

Write two paper s, each about 1000 - 2000 words, on any topic of interest to you and app ropriate to the class. For example: you might write a case study of a public humanities project or institution, either historical or contemporary , based on research in the library or interviews ; a comparative study of several projects or institutions; a th eoretical exploration; or something else. Your paper might suggest considerations and guidelines for institutions doing this kind of work.

Here’s what I think makes a good short paper: Tell a story. Make an argument. Connect to class readings and discussi ons. Use a range of examples. First - person is fine . A memorandum is fine. You can write for me, or for a different audience , for example, the director of the organization you’re writing about, or the general public ; let me know.

Your writing should be you r original work , based on class work, your reading, experience, and conversations . Footnote anything you use from books, articles, interviews, or the web. Note ideas that came from other people. Failure to do so ca n result in failing the class.

I’m open to other formats of presentation : video, audio, websites, exhibits, whatever writing your paper in an open, on - line format, for example Medium .

C onsider

Submit your paper via Canvas. In addition to my review, your paper will b e peer - reviewed (Canvas will randomly assign another student to read and comment on it). Paper 1 is due October 23. Paper 2 is due December 15.

Class Schedule


We ek 1 (September 9 ) Introductions Intr oductions, explanations, etc. What is publ ic humanities ? ” Curating an exhibition:

“What is Public Humanities? A History” Rewriting the Wikipedia page on Public Humanities. Introducing the “interview a public human” project .

Part 1: The Public

Week 2 (September 1 6 ) The Public Sphere Jennifer Barre tt , Museums and the Public Sphere (20 11)

Week 3 (September 23) Connecting with the Public Hilde Heine, Public Art: Thinking Museums Differently ( 2006)

Week 4 (Septem ber 30 ) – Sharing authority Pew Center for Art and Culture, Push Me, Pull You: Questions of Co - authorship

Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, Laura Koloski, Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User - Generated World (2011) , introduction and pp. 68 - 123 and 206 -


Claire Bishop, “ The social turn: collaboration and its discontents ,” Art Forum, February 2006, pp. 179 - 185

Part 2: The Other

Week 5 (October 7 ) – Contact Zones James Clifford “Museums as Contact Zones” in Routes: Travel and Transl ation in the Late Twentieth Century, 1997.

Steven Conn, “Whose Objects? Whose Culture? The Contexts of Repatriations,” in Conn, Do Museums Still Need Objects ? , pp. 58 - 85.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Whose Culture is it?” in the New York Review of Books , Vo l. 53, No. 2, Feb. 9, 2006.

“Introduction,” in Richard Kurin, Reflections of a Culture Broker (1997)

“Introduction to Cultural Appropriation: A Framework for Analysis,” introduction to Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation

Week 6 ( October 14 ) - Collecting and displaying the exotic Sally Price , Paris Primitive: Jacques Chirac's Museum on the Quai Branly (2007)

Paula Heredia and Coco Fusco, “The couple in the cage” video (through Canvas)

Week 7 (October 21 ) Working with community Glenn Wharton, The Painted King: Art, Activism, and Authenticity in Hawaii

The Past

Week 8 (October 2 8 ) – Past and present Michel - Rolph Trouillot , Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History


Week 9 ( November 4 ) – Communities, past and present Stephanie E. Yuhl, A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston


Blain Robert and Ethan J. Kytle , “Looking The Things in the Face: Slavery, Race, and the Commemorative Landscape in Charleston, South Carolina, 1865-2010,” Journal of Southern History 78, no. 3 (August 2012): 639 – 84.

Week 1 0 ( November 11 ) - Remembering the past Sanford Levison, Written in stone: public monuments in changing societies (1998)

David Glassberg, "Public History and the study of memory." The Public Historian . 19, no. Spring 1996 (Mar 1996 )

Responses to Glassberg article: The Public Historian , Vol. 19, No. 2, Spr ing, 1997

Week 11 (November 1 8 ) – Remembering 9/11 Erika Doss, Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010)

---------- >November 20 : Field trip to New York Adam Gopnik, Stones a nd Bones: Visiting the 9/11 memorial and museum , New Yorker , July 7, 2014

Rick Beard, “Exhibit Review: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum,” The Public Historian Vol. 37 No. 1, February 201 5

---------- > November 25 : Holiday - No Class


Week 1 2 (December 2 ) Working the Past Amy M. Tyson, The Wages of History: Emotional Labor o n Public History’s Front Lines (2013)

“Ask a Sl ave” and Interpreting Race on Public History’s Front Line,” interview with Azie Mira Dungey , The Public Historian 36:1, February 2014

Wee k 1 3 (December 9 ) Last week : Your role in public humanities Filene, Benjamin, “ Passionate Histories: ‘ Outsider ’ Histor y - Makers and What They Teach Us , ” The Public Historian , 34 (2012), 11 – 33