In progress ... full project archive coming soon!

In the meantime, visit the archive of our former FHI site (while on the Duke network or using VPN) to view past Story+ projects here.

You can also visit the Internet Archive documentation of past Story+ projects here.

 

50 Days of Kindness: Sharing Wisdom Learned During Incarceration

Overview: 50 Days of Kindness is a public storytelling project that highlights the creativity and wisdom of people who have experienced incarceration. Difficult experiences often lead to the greatest wisdom; people experiencing incarceration can be profound wisdom teachers. This project celebrates the collective wisdom learned during incarceration, which is at the heart of Human Kindness Foundation’s work. For close to 50 years, Human Kindness Foundation has promoted spirituality, mindfulness, and wellness for people experiencing incarceration and their families. In the run-up to our 50th anniversary in December 2023, we will release 50 daily mindfulness reflections that draw from the wisdom and experiences of currently or formerly incarcerated people and their families. These will include mindfulness practices, short essays and quotes, poems, brief interviews and artwork. Much of this content already exists in our archive of five decades of books, newsletters, letters and artwork.

Project Sponsor: Dr. Erin Parish, Executive Director, Human Kindness Foundation

American Predatory Lending Podcasts

Overview: Over the past three years, a Duke Bass Connections team conducted oral history interviews about the developments in state-level residential mortgage markets that set the stage for economic turmoil in 2007-08 and beyond. Interviewees include legislators and policy-makers, advocates for borrowers, and actors in the real estate and financial markets. Drawing on these interviews, the American Predatory Lending (APL) Story+ team will begin the process of developing a set of 20- to 30-minute podcasts that explore key themes in that history, such as: the evolution of information technology and embrace of financial deregulation that transformed local mortgage origination, expanding sub-prime lending and opening the door to abusive lending practices; and the contending accounts of the causes of the financial crisis, as well as its lessons for policy-makers. Read more about the ongoing American Predatory Lending project.

Project Sponsor: Ed Balleisen, Professor of History and Public Policy

Category Is…Hoopskirt Extravaganza: Femme Drag, Ballrooms, and Southern Belle Realness

Overview: This project interrogates the hoopskirt as an artefact of racist, sexist, and heteronormative practices since the antebellum era that have persisted under the guise of “white Southern” heritage and Confederate nostalgia. However, the historic iconography of the hoopskirt and its representative ideologies are being contested through BIPOC, Queer, and Trans performances of femme drag in contemporary culture. In 2019, Tony award-winning actor and trans-rights activist Billy Porter appeared on the red carpet of the 91st Academy Awards wearing a custom Christian Siriano tuxedo complete with a full hoopskirt gown. This iconic moment represents a shift in our collective awareness elevating BIPOC, Queer, and Trans bodies through a performance of class, wealth, and even royalty by literally taking up more space through a politic of fashion, fabrics, and hoops. Porter’s transgressive performance against social and fashion norms is a continuation of a lineage of “men in dresses” that can be traced from the female impersonators of 19th century blackface minstrelsy to the “final looks” on RuPaul’s Drag Race today. In this STORY+ project, participants will engage in both traditional and creative research methodologies for generating and sharing their findings.

Project Sponsor: Johann R Montozzi-Wood, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Theater Studies

Commemorating Duke: 100 Years

Overview: Be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event! Students tell the story of Duke University in the upcoming Duke Centennial exhibit. As part of the team in University Archives, the students will select 100 items that highlight the many stories that make up the campus and the community. Students will select materials from the Archives--this could be anything from top hats to student snapshots to historic films—and then will write exhibit labels and design the layout of the exhibit. The exhibit will run for the entirety of 2024, and will be mounted in the Chappell Gallery, the large exhibition space directly inside the main doors to Perkins Library. Working with archivists, exhibits librarians, technologists, and others, students will be directly engaged in uniquely marking Duke’s first 100 years.

Project Sponsor(s): Meg Brown, Head, Exhibition Services and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian, Duke University Libraries; Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist, Rubenstein Library; Ani Karagianis, Research Services Librarian for University Archives, Rubenstein Library

Duke Campus Farm: Growing Histories

Overview: The Duke Campus Farm (DCF) seeks a team of people to help its plants tell their stories. Erlene’s Green Cotton, Brightleaf tobacco, Queen Anne crowder peas – these are some of the crops we grow that hold rich stories tied to indigenous histories, to the transatlantic slave trade, to the founding of Duke University, to the culinary and medicinal traditions of many communities, and to DCF’s legacy as part of a former plantation. Hairy vetch, hügelkultur, and hot composting – these are practices that embody some of the ways DCF is working to repair the harm to human and more-than-human communities that took place on the land that we now steward, and to create a more resilient agriculture in the face of new challenges posed by climate change. Story+ participants will research and share the ecological, cultural, and agricultural histories of some of the plants that we grow, and the regenerative practices that we use on our farm. This work will help build our living archive, “Growing Histories,” an interactive, self-guided tour that helps visitors to understand more deeply who and what they encounter at the Duke Campus Farm.

Project Sponsor: Saskia Cornes, Assistant Professor of the Practice, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and Director of the Duke Campus Farm

Healthy Women Post-Roe v. Wade

Overview: After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, OBGYNs and family medicine practitioners in states with bans or severe restrictions on abortion realized within days that their ability to provide the nationwide “standard of care” for women of reproductive age took a sudden turn for the worse. In addition to abortion, this ruling has affected multiple aspects of women’s reproductive care that the Supreme Court and lower courts did not intend. This Story+ Project asks undergraduates to create short social media and podcast pieces using interview excerpts from the Post-Roe Women's Reproductive Health Archive (WRHA) created by undergraduates interviewing Duke OBGYNs and family practitioners in Wesley Hogan’s Spring 2023 course, Documenting US Women’s Health Post-Roe v. Wade. Story+ participants will be expected to use their creativity, ethical compass, and humanities, media, and arts backgrounds to delve into the Post-Roe Women's Reproductive Health Archive and create clear, accessible, research-informed stories about the post-Roe medical landscape, and its ethical, social and economic consequences. What was the pre-Roe standard of care possible prior to the June 2022 Dobbs decision, and specifically how has it changed since that time? These stories aim to impact the future of legal decision-making, policy decision-making, and an informed citizenry.

Project Sponsor(s): Dr. Wesley Hogan, PhD, Research Professor, Franklin Humanities Institute and History; Dr. Beverly Gray, MD, Residency Director, Division Director Women's Community and Population Health, Associate Professor Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center; Dr. Jonas Swartz, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical Director of Family Planning, Duke University Medical Center

Art as Relation and Repair Across Disabled Ecologies and Histories

 

 

Overview: If we understand that “carbon” is only a symptom of the ecological crisis whose root cause is the broken relations between people, the earth, and each other, what stories and histories do we need to tell and illuminate, so that we can imagine ourselves into the future, living otherwise?

Art as Relation and Repair across Disabled Ecologies and Histories will search for how to tell stories of deforestation across the United States as interwoven with the ongoing violence of settler colonialism, while centering environmental and disability justice. The ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest literary texts in the Western world, will serve as a narrative springboard to think through our culture's relationship to consciousness, mortality, and the living world.

The goal is to hone in on seven potent geographic areas across time that reveal the way the colonial imaginary (and the eugenic ableism within it) shaped behaviors and actions towards forest ecologies and human communities, and the way this reverberates into the present.

We will create a digital story-map that will begin to tell these stories to a broader public, and will spend time in local forests (including Duke Forest) with a leading historic-tree arborist so we can learn from, and with, the land. The research we accomplish in Story+ will support the development of a multi-year project of large-scale artistic installations that will tour to endangered forests across the country, and internationally. You can learn more about the long-term project through this article, “Animate Earth,” from the Winter 2021 issue of Orion Magazine, a publication focused on environmental and social justice.

Project Sponsor(s): Marina Tsaplina, Artist; Kienle Scholar in Medical Humanities; Kevin Caves, Clinical Associate in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences; Clinical Associate in the Department of Medicine, Instructor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Jules Odendahl-James, Dramaturg; Director of Academic Engagement, Arts & Humanities; Co-Director of Story+
Graduate Mentor: Jessica Orzulak, Ph.D. candidate in Art History
Undergraduates: Jaiyin (Joy) Liu, Kaley Sperling, Huiyin Zhou

Biocultural Sustainability in Madagascar

 

 

Overview: In this Story+ project, we will tackle diverse issues related to biodiversity conservation, humanitarian development, climate change, and international policies related to Madagascar. By highlighting the agency of local stakeholders in Madagascar, and working together with Malagasy collaborators, we will enable their voices to be heard. The goal is to transform the current narrative that demonizes farmers for their unsustainable practices to an inclusive narrative told by the farmers about their plight and how they are realizing their goals for a sustainable future.

The Story+ project will uncover the colonial and neocolonial roots of outdated narratives about deforestation in Madagascar and shift the framing to the perspective of local stakeholders. We will raise awareness on the challenges farmers face now more than ever due to decreasing crop yields, food insecurity, malnutrition, exploitative policies, and the clear effects of climate change. By attending to the voices of communities that are most marginalized by current conservation policy, the Story+ projects will lead the way towards a new narrative of hope and optimism for Madagascar conservation and development. Disseminating the outcomes of this project through narrative story telling in radio announcements, videos, and other media will allow us to share our project with a public audience, both in the US and in Madagascar.

The team will be based at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, but will integrate with peers in Madagascar virtually to gain deeper insights into the themes of the project. Each student should be prepared to conduct extensive literature review, learn methods to interpret focus group data, and create diverse media of their design, including but not limited to audio/visual media, websites, articles, blog posts, and more.

Outcome: Our Biocultural Sustainability team had 6 weeks to create a new narrative of conservation that values people for the land in Madagascar. We researched Madagascar more broadly and then narrowed our scope to the Northeast region of SAVA. Themes included land rights, environmental justice, food security, subsistence agriculture, gender disparities in land ownership, vanilla trade and risks, environmental education, conservation policy and community forest management. We asked in our research: who is responsible for conservation? Each stakeholder has a part to play in conservation, but to echo our Duke Lemur Center Malagasy collaborator Evrard Benasoavina, “we are all responsible for conservation.” 

Our outcomes were the following:  

  • Five interviews and collaborative design meetings with Duke Lemur Center and CURSA (SAVA university) students and staff  
  • Two feedback meetings with CURSA collaborators  
  • ArcGIS Story Map: People for the Land in Malagasy and English  
  • Dissemination campaign for Story Map to networks, conservation workers, Madagascar based organizations 
  • Final symposium video trailer
Project Sponsor: James Herrera, Research Scientist, Duke Lemur Center SAVA Conservation
Graduate Mentor: Bethany Old
Undergraduates: Lucinda Law, Susan Lin, Meghna Parameswaran

Collecting Oral Histories of Environmental Racism and Injustice in the American South

 

Overview: This project will document and communicate the history of racial inequities in the American South through an environmental justice lens. We aim to build a repository of oral histories that will provide evidence of the pervasiveness of environmental injustice and racism in this country, especially in rural Southern communities. This project builds upon an ongoing collaboration between the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts across rural communities in the American South.  As the pandemic continues, stories and memories of community elders and other first-hand observers of environmental injustice and racism are being lost.

Oral histories represent collective knowledge, and intergenerational wealth and these stories urgently need to be documented, archived, and passed down: for the communities themselves, on their own terms, as well as for scholars of the environment, humanities, medicine, and public policy advocates who seek to promote more equitable policies. This project will add a humanist and documentary perspective for communicating about critical environmental issues while advocating for just, equitable, and anti-racist solutions.

The project timeline is Sept 2021-May 2023. However, this timeline may be extended as additional partnerships and funding are secured. You can view the connected Bass Connections project here.

Outcome: Our team, “Collecting Oral Histories of Environmental Racism and Injustice in the American South,” set out this summer to tackle a methodological quandary: how can we prepare next fall’s Bass Connections students to conduct ethical oral histories? To answer this deceptively simple inquiry, the project’s undergraduate researchers addressed three related questions, which they would take apart, expand, simplify, and make their own over the course of the six weeks. Their research consisted of literature and website reviews along with expert interviews with people invested in environmental justice and oral history work, both around and beyond Duke. Once they became acquainted with the history of environmental justice as a social movement, they talked to these experts about their experiences, lessons learned, and recommendations for future researchers. Our Story+ team accomplished a feat that can bedevil even experienced researchers: they devoted six weeks to listening, learning, and thinking about research methods, all while centering humanistic values of community power and justice. Their intellectual labor ultimately produced accessible materials that will facilitate the Bass Connections team’s training in oral history, but we believe they can benefit anyone interested in approaches to ethical community engagement and environmental justice.

Tri Truong researched principles of non-extractive community engagement, examining oral history and community partnerships in other contexts to inform his understanding of justice-oriented research. His work culminated in a Story Map outlining approaches he synthesized to aid the Bass Connections team’s training. He identified community orientation, maintenance of trust, empathic understanding, community empowerment, and creative engagement as key principles; the Story Map suggests ways for the Bass Connections team to adhere to them. 

Ariel Chukwuma pursued the second question of project sustainability. Through her expert interviews and reading, she considered the best way to train student oral historians as well as how the project as a whole can fully replace extraction with collaboration. Her Story Map, another resource for the Bass Connections team, breaks down the process of collecting oral histories into steps students can take to protect and promote community ownership. She also created a workshop the team can use to help interested community members become oral historians themselves. 

Audrey Alexander answered the call to transcend simply documenting histories. Their work asked how the Environmental Justice Oral History Project might practically support the communities asked to share stories of their struggles. Audrey learned from interviews with researchers and activists that, while communities were educated and proactive about environmental concerns, they need better access to resources. Audrey created a repository for the state of North Carolina featuring a list of annotated, categorized online resources—everything from free water testing and pro bono legal services to affordable healthcare clinics and ways to get involved with local organizing. 

As a whole, this summer’s Story+ team accomplished our central task of helping to prepare the EJOHP researchers for the challenging yet invaluable work they’ll undertake this fall. You can view their work using the links below, or email Cameron Oglesby (cameron.oglesby@duke.edu) to learn about and contribute to the EJOHP’s upcoming activities.

Project Sponsor(s): Cameron Oglesby, MPP Candidate; Elizabeth Albright, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy; Margaret Lou Brown, Franklin Humanities Institute; Wesley Hogan, Franklin Humanities Institute; Miguel Rojas Sotelo, Center for International and Global Studies-Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Erika Weinthal, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
Graduate Mentor: Nikki Locklear, PhD student, History
Undergraduates: Audrey Alexander, Ariel Chukwuma, Tri Truong

Curating and Integrating New Visual and Sonic Experiences

 

Overview: Musical instruments are complex and historically revealing pieces of technology. They reflect both scientific knowledge and artistic practices of a given historical moment. The Duke University Musical Instrument Collections (DUMIC) comprise specialized collections and individual gifts of musical instruments. It was originally founded after the G. Norman and Ruth G. Eddy Collection of Musical Instruments was donated to Duke University in 2000.

While the Eddy Collection consists primarily of Western musical instruments—keyboards, wind, and brass—Duke’s de Hen-Bijl Collection includes over 200 musical instruments, 100 reel-to-reel field recordings, and 1000 slides of instruments from all over the world. Despite the treasures in DUMIC, the community of students and faculty at Duke are largely unaware of the collections or have been unable to visit in person. The aim of this project is to create new ways in which we can learn, appreciate, and benefit from the musical instruments in our care. We are seeking creatively minded students to find new ways to digitally link the musical instruments in DUMIC to their history. Our goal is to tell the story of the musical instruments in our collection and show how physical objects—in this case marvels both technologically and artistically speaking—can reveal complex webs of stories involving different kinds of people, places, and activities. We would like to trace the histories of our instruments using multi-media platforms which will allow them to 'speak' to our students and community in dynamic and interactive ways.

Outcome: The Curating and Integrating New Visual and Sonic Experiences Story+ Team spent 6 weeks curating, researching, and digitizing many of the musical instruments in the Duke University Musical Instrument Collections (DUMIC). Our goal was to tell the stories of the musical instruments in our collections and to show how physical objects can reveal complex webs of stories involving different kinds of people, places, and activities. The undergraduate students evaluated the instruments in the collection to determine which instruments they should feature in the museum space and on the website. The instruments on display before this project were mostly of Western origins, which led to the decision to majorly renovate the museum to better fit the goals of DUMIC and the work being done in the music department. By choosing to do this renovation, we faced questions such as: How do we display and position Western instruments with non-Western instruments ethically? What kinds of stories can we tell about the non-Western instruments when details of their specific histories are largely unknown? How do we approach aspects of those stories that have problematic details, such as its acquisition by anthropologists and the materials of which it was made? Once the instruments were chosen, we sought to find as much information on them as we could to educate the website viewer of its maker, social/historical context, and musical context. A large part of this work consisted of finding photos and videos of the instruments being played and making our own photos and recordings. When possible, we interviewed those who have interacted with the collections through donation, performance, or conservation for further understanding of a specific instrument or collection. These interviews with Professor Lex Silbiger, Professor R. Larry Todd, and Mr. John Watson are featured on the website as podcasts. Our website (https://sites.duke.edu/dumic/) showcases the instruments of the collections to give the Duke and Durham community a way to interact with and access the interesting instruments in our collections. We are hopeful that this insightful website will bring more awareness to DUMIC!
 
Project Sponsor: Roseen Giles, Assistant Professor of Music, Curator, Duke University Musical Instrument Collections
Graduate Mentor: Hannah Krall, PhD Candidate, Musicology
Undergraduates: Peter Petroff, Elaine Guo, Abby Johnson, David Tierney

From Stephen to C.B.: Tobacco, Race, & Duke Men's Basketball

 

Overview: This project seeks to examine and re-narrate the historical relationship of tobacco, race, and the Duke University Men’s Basketball program. This project will begin by looking specifically at the subjectivities of Stephen Slade, the enslaved Black man who discovered the “Brightleaf” curing method of tobacco, and Claudius Claiborne, Duke University’s first Black Men’s Basketball player. This project seeks to look at the growth of the tobacco industry over time, its relation to the development of intercollegiate basketball in Durham, including the racial segregation and the desegregation of Duke Men’s Basketball. Our team will critically explore how one enslaved Black man's stolen ingenuity traveled over time, leading to Claudius Claiborne becoming the university’s first Black player. Through archival research, textual analysis, and oral history, our team will interrogate both individuals' public representation and narration and look beneath the surface to unearth the underlying stories and issues omitted in the current master narrative. To explore these lines of inquiry, our team will engage questions including: How have Stephen Slade and Claudius Claiborne’s stories been represented in public? What "work" are these narratives doing within society? Who benefits from these narratives? What do these narratives reveal, and what do they hide? How is Black intelligence represented within these narratives? Students will use the collected data and public storytelling to create a counter-story in a public history exhibit (curatorial plan) and website, which offers a different truth.

Outcome: This summer, we spent six weeks investigating the lives, subjectivities, and connections of Stephen Slade and Dr. Claudius “C.B.” Claiborne, Duke’s first Black student-athlete and basketball player. Looking through the throughline of tobacco, we produced a website detailing their connections. Among the most significant relationships we unearthed through interviews with Dr. Claiborne, and site visits to the Duke Homestead were the communities formed during the segregation era. We learned about their integral connections to the growth of “Black basketball” and the intentional effort Black coaches and players used to eradicate Jim Crow policies from their lives. We exposed the silences in the narratives and the absence of public recognition of these important figures. Namely, we noticed the lack of any monument or general marker of CB Claiborne in Cameroon Indoor Stadium, the Duke Basketball Museum, or any other public campus area. Through our website, we demonstrated through write-ups and use of archival materials Dr. Claiborne’s life, activism on campus, and in larger communities, including his missing practice and games to participate in the Allen Building Takeover. We are hopeful this project will lead the university to recognize and memorialize Dr. Claiborne, which will serve the current and future Duke students and supporters. Website: https://sh6133.wixsite.com/duketobacco
 
Project Sponsor: Javier Wallace, PhD, Race and Sport Postdoctoral Associate, Duke African & African American Studies
Graduate Mentor: Damilare Bello, PhD candidate, Duke English
Undergraduates: Sophia Hanani and Hanrui Huang

Nuestra Historia, Nuestra Voz: Latinx at Duke

 
Overview: Over the past two years students in classes taught by Prof. Cecilia Márquez and Prof. Joan Munné have worked to create the first-of-its-kind exhibit in the Chappel Family Gallery in Perkins Library entitled “Nuestra Historia, Nuestra Voz: Latinx at Duke.” This exhibit documents the long history of Latinx students at Duke University. The Story+ team will continue the important work started by this exhibit. Together, the team will produce a pilot website that documents the physical exhibit and use materials within the exhibit to create new digital content. This website will be used in future courses and for future researchers. This project will weave together public humanities and digital humanities skills to produce a dynamic hub for the continued exploration of the rich history of Latinxs at Duke University and the region more broadly.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Cecilia Márquez, Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History; Joan Munné, Senior Lecturer of Romance Language
Graduate Mentor: Lucas da Silva Lopes, Ph.D. candidate in Romance Studies
Undergraduates: Megan Corey, Jamie Gonzalez, David Sardá

Our Day Out: A Story of Queer Resistance and Leadership in Durham

 

Overview: On April 12, 1981, four men sunbathing along the Little River in north Durham were assaulted by a group of men and women in what was quickly understood to be an anti-LGTBQ+ hate crime. One of the men—Ronald “Sonny” Antonevich—later died from the injuries he sustained that afternoon, leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the two men who killed him. In the weeks and months that followed, the Little River assault and subsequent trial inspired LGBTQ+ organizers in Durham to launch the Our Day Out protest, which was the most visible public demonstration for queer liberation in Durham to that point. The Our Day Out organizers advocated not just queer liberation, but also intersectional solidarity in resistance to anti-Black violence; resistance to state oppression in all forms, including the carceral state that imprisoned Antonevich’s killers; and a critique of US society in the late 1970s and early 1980s as beset by a resurgent tide of white supremacist violence.

Many stories about that day were told, each framed for a specific audience: a jury of Durham residents, a news-reading public in a conservative state and country that still criminalized homosexuality, and a queer community living under the daily threat of state and interpersonal violence. This Story+ project will use multi-media narrative to tell the story of the Little River assault and Our Day Out protest, in all its complexities, placing it in the context of LGBTQ+ organizing that had occurred in Durham since the early 1970s; investigating how this event shaped the Durham activists who responded and the lives of the individuals involved; and considering what the Our Day Out protests have to teach us now about organized resistance to hate-driven violence. Given the place-based nature of this investigation and the wealth of archival material available in Durham, this is a fully in-person Story+ project.

Through archival research at the North Carolina Collection at the Durham County Library, the LGBTQ+ Collection at Rubenstein Library, and the Southern Oral History Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as new oral histories, this project will interrogate how the story was told at the time; what was erased then and remains silenced now; what aspects of the story have been concealed over time and are ready to be reclaimed, including the discourse of reconciliation and restorative justice that some of the organizers advocated; and what modes of leadership were at work in the Our Day Out protest. This narrative historical inquiry employs methodologies of public humanities research to bring forward a story of resistance, mutual care, solidarity, and collective visioning for new forms of justice.

Project Sponsor: Andrew Nurkin, Hart Associate Professor of the Practice, Hart Leadership Program, Sanford School of Public Policy
Graduate Mentor: Hooper Schultz, Ph.D. candidate, in History at UNC-Chapel Hill
Undergraduates: Sophia Chimbanda, Adiv (Babu) Chatterjee, Staci Grimes

Race, Racism, and the History of Duke Sports

 

Overview: As part of a multi-year initiative to study Duke University’s racial history, this project will document path-breaking student athletes and coaches, revisit watershed sporting events, and seek to understand these key moments and individuals within the context of local, national, and international politics. The project will additionally examine the place of race and sports within powerful institutional debates over issues such as “merit” and black student admissions, campus activism, and the adoption of Title IX. Inasmuch as the project will narrate racial developments in Duke sports history, it will also use Duke sports history to shed new light on the racial landscape on campus and beyond.

Outcome: Throughout this summer three students focused on individual research projects that contribute to a larger effort to engage the history of Race, Racism, and the History of Duke Sports. The students focused on the intersections of the early years of integration in Duke Basketball, Football, and its overlaps with Title IX. In addition to doing digital archival work to document the gaps in the archives, students began conducting interviews with willing, able and alive members of Duke’s sporting history. Thematically, the students began to realize that there were gaps in the archives, and we used these gaps to explore broader historical and theoretical concerns about how archives are constructed and what they leave out. They found that when it came to sports coverage, there was a lot more information about white athletes available. Furthermore, when it came to Black women athletes in Duke’s history, there is a great deal of work to be done. The students hoped to lay a foundation for the future of research on the topic so that the next iteration of researches can start from where they left off.
 
Project Sponsor: H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr., Professor of Law, John Hope Franklin Research Scholar
Graduate Mentor: Hannah Borenstein, Ph.D. Candidate Cultural Anthropology
Undergraduates: Erin Blanding, Amira Axelle Miel, Daniel Bereket

The Sound of Monuments and Protest

 

Overview: Monuments commemorating politicians and soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War never stood silent. In our Story+ project, we will consider why people celebrate, protest, or decide to keep silent about aspects of our collective past by turning to sound. In particular, our goal is to research how people since the late nineteenth century have constituted, reclaimed, and contested commemorative practice around public sculptures through speeches given at dedications, public lectures, poetry, song, instrumental performances, and recorded sound. This expansive account of the ephemeral soundings and embodiment of performance will help us investigate why certain events in the past rather than others have been the object of commemoration; what these creations stood for originally; how their meanings have changed over time; the role race, gender, and sexuality play in commemorative culture; and the lessons, if any, these commemorative practices continue to teach us today.

In close consultation with the project sponsor and graduate student, you will select a national or local public monument to the Civil War whose sonic history you will research. Audio, visual, and textual archival material will be used to tell the story of this monument. You will conduct research in digital audiovisual archives at Rubenstein Special Collections, the Library of Congress, and in other online collections, which contain sheet music collections, illustrated covers for albums, typescripts of speeches, radio and television broadcasts, oral histories, and the silent traces of protest in print media and photographs. As you work with these materials, you will identify the ephemeral soundscapes that help constitute the public memorial you have chosen. How does sound inflect how monuments have occupied public space? How do spoken word and musical performance constitute the “soundtrack” when a statue was dedicated?

Moreover, this Story+ project will investigate how the participatory nature of public history opens us the potential for resistance. Many of you will ask how sonic interventions challenge the supremacist and universalizing perspective of commemorative aesthetics. What were the sounds that uplifted freedom movements protesting public memorials? What kinds of silences have persisted over the years that a public sculpture has stood? Whose voices were prohibited at these commemorative settings? Finally, you will reflect on the limitations of the audiovisual archives you have worked with. To what extent do these materials suppress and distort what commemorative culture sounded like and do not represent the people who shaped it? All of these findings, including audiovisual material will come together for you to tell a multimedia micro-history of the monument you have chosen.

Project Sponsor: Vance Byrd, Duke 2021 Humanities Unbounded Fellow, Presidential Associate Professor Germanic Languages and Literatures University of Pennsylvania
Graduate Mentor: Ellie Vilakazi, Ph.D. candidate in English
Undergraduates: Princess Jackson (NCCU), De’Ja Bunyan (NCCU), Morgan Chumney, Malynda Wollert

Unearthing Duke Forest

Overview: The ecological history of Duke Forest is embedded within the human history of plantation agriculture, fueled by violent chattel slavery. Hallmark insights about river ecology, biodiversity, community succession, and climate change have come from research in Duke Forest, but what are the conditions that have allowed such research to take place? How does the historical context of the land and people on it affect knowledge production? What stake do researchers have in that history?

Unearthing Duke Forest is an interdisciplinary endeavor begun in fall 2020 to investigate the broader historical conditions through which research in Duke Forest has been rendered possible. Through the creation of a public outdoors exhibit at the Robeson Mill site at Duke Forest, we hope to highlight those peoples that have been displaced, removed, or expunged from the Forest’s archive. This Story+ project will explore the intertwined histories of people, of land, and of scientific inquiry in Duke Forest. Over the course of the summer, students will engage with an archive of documents — ranging from censuses to plat surveys to scientific publications — as well as with the forest itself, a living archive. Students will synthesize their findings into a digital exhibit that will accompany future interpretive signage within Duke Forest.

Project Sponsor(s): Kathleen Donahue, Duke Biology; Christina Chia, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute
Graduate Mentor: Anita Simha, Ph.D. candidate in Biology
Undergraduates: Sara Norton, Madison Hill (MFA student), Destinee Mackey (NCCU)

Visualizing Philosophers' Networks with Project Vox

 

Overview: This Story+ project explores how Project Vox might visualize philosophers' networks: what could a network visualization look like, and how can it reflect the feminist mindset of the site? Over the course of its 2022-2023 project year, Project Vox will be re-centering its focus on the collective: from increasing the diversity of figures featured on the site (in ways that force us to rethink our approach to individual entries and how we define who is marginalized) to shifting attention to collective ideas rather than just individuals. This Story+ project will lay the foundation for that work, by focusing squarely on how we represent individuals and their ideas as part of a collective.

While we have long considered the possibility of creating network visualizations for our philosophers and developing these routinely going forward for new philosopher entries, we hesitated for several reasons. First, there are challenges involving technical details and sustainability: e.g., what visualization tool would introduce the least maintenance challenges? Second, there are methodological and representational questions: e.g., what would count as an intellectual connection, and would visualizations reinforce supposed certainty about connections and influence that our project has in principle been working against? Third, there are practical questions: e.g., how will this impact the research and production effort required for creating new philosopher entries, and who will use these visualizations? Finally, there are pedagogical concerns: e.g., how could these visualizations be used effectively by instructors? We've made piecemeal progress towards developing our approach to network visualization, namely by constructing preliminary visualizations for different philosophers using Kumu, documenting the workflow, and noting points of concern about how these visualizations effectively convey the collective formation of philosophical ideas and gaps in the historical research that they elide. This Story+ project will continue this work, interrogating what it means to create network visualizations using archival data and as part of a site focused on reforming a discipline by encouraging new ways of seeing and positioning the work of marginalized groups; and undertaking the work involved in constructing and incorporating network visualizations into this already public-facing and widely used resource.

You can see the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Project here: Project Vox: Training a New Generation of Collaborative Scholars (2021-2022). And previous Bass Connections work here: Project Vox (2018-2019); Project Vox (2019-2020); Project Vox: Recovering the World of Women Philosophers in Early Modern Europe (2020-2021).

Outcome: The Project Vox Story + students, Karen Nielson and Junyi Tao, systematically tackled the question posed to them by Project Vox this summer—how do we make a visualization of Project Vox research? The students first identified a workflow for data visualization: 1) establish a unique methodology for data collection based on a goal, question, or hypothesis, 2) create a template for the data and collect it, 3) import the data into a database management system (such as the graph database management system Neo4j), 4) work with the agility of the management system to learn from the data, 5) build a visualization from an interpretation of the data, and 6) maintain and evolve the database and visualization(s) over time. So far, the students have completed the workflow steps 1-4 on a project to visualize the entire known correspondence between philosophers Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes. Both Karen and Junyi will continue the work as their senior thesis, or signature work, for the 2022-2023 academic year. Additionally, Junyi Tao created a network visualization of philosopher entries published on Wikipedia, a remarkable work that highlights the marginalization of women philosophers through noted absences, such as the absence of noted connections to contemporaneous male philosophers. These very connections that Wikipedia seems to erase are present in Project Vox research, only further highlighting the need for Project Vox. Junyi continues to work toward publishing this project.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Dr. Andrew Janiak, Professor, Philosophy; Dr. Liz Milewicz, Librarian & Department Head, Duke Libraries
Graduate Mentor: Kelsey Brod, PhD student in Computational Media, Arts and Cultures (CMAC)
Undergraduates: Junyi Tao and Karen Nielsen

A Just and Equal Durham Audio Documentary Project

 

Overview: The Just and Equal Durham Project (JED) at the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice (PMC) is about history, accountability, and activism motivated by an evolving vision for our home community of Durham. Ten years ago, fifteen Durham community leaders, many of whom are still active social justice advocates, were asked to share their ideas about the power of story, specific and personally impactful stories of fairness and justice, and their vision for a just and equal Durham. This project will revisit those interviews and interviewees, inviting several of them to reflect on how Durham’s has or has not advanced in its journey toward justice and how their vision for a just Durham has changed.

The archival and newly created audio material will be shaped into several short audio documentaries, 2-4 minutes in length, that will be uploaded to the PMC website and shared via social media. This work advances the mission of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice documents to lift up stories from historically marginalized communities and puts them in service to advancing justice and equity for all.

Project Sponsor(s): Barbara Lau, Former Director of the Pauli Murray Project, Duke Human Rights Center at FHI; Former Executive Director of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice
Project Manager: Sophia Ross-Hurtado, Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice
Undergraduates: Cate Knothe, Mia Miranda, Ava Navarro

Camera Digita: Portraits of AI’s Role in the Futures of All

 

Overview: This is a project of inclusion, representation, and empowerment. Camera Digita: Portraits of AI’s Role in the Futures of All will address the core issue of how digital technologies—especially emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—are bringing about massive social changes, while at the same time many of the most impacted communities have limited voice in the development of the technologies or related law and policy. This project integrates arts and creative human-centered design principles to listen to traditionally marginalized stakeholders and elevate oft-excluded portraits and voices to help ensure our AI futures empower all.

We will help elevate these voices and portraits of inclusive AI through creative portraits, narratives, and artistic creations. This will be done through:

  • Interviews and outreach - Our team will receive training re: careful interview outreach and then conduct a series of interviews with stakeholders identified through various existing networks;
  • Artistic pieces that capture the above including videos, portraits, essays, etc.;
  • Producing and online ‘Zine exhibit through a platform such as Issuu to share this work with a wider audience.
Outcome: Student Marie Cheng asks: “What can a team of undergraduates do to change the inevitable path of technology?” That feeling of powerlessness is all too common.

Camera Digita: Portraits of AI’s Role in the Futures of All was a project of inclusion, representation, and empowerment. Together we explored ways that digital technologies—especially emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—are bringing about massive social changes, while at the same time many of the communities most impacted by these changes have limited voice in the development of these technologies. We aimed, as student Athena Yao notes, “to ask the difficult questions for which there are no easy answers …[and to] build towards a future in which there is transparency, equity, and intentionality."

Prezi presentation for Camera Digita Team. Pictured: Digitally drawn image of the interior of a home

Click to view presentation

To explore these issues, we sought to hear different voices and to use non-traditional techniques, and we found special power in storytelling and the visual arts. Over six weeks, our team integrated technology desk research with artistic creation, stories of community members’ particular experiences, and tools of design justice. We listened to traditionally marginalized stakeholders through free-form interviews and then elevated their concerns and their visions for a better AI future through artistic works to help ensure our AI futures empower all. In the end, we empowered ourselves, too, as student Amber Park makes clear in her curatorial statement that accompanies our web gallery:

Ultimately, we are the creators of our own destiny with AI. From implementing smart AI gadgets in our homes to fighting for privacy rights against non-consensual facial recognition, we determine how we engage with evolving technology.

You can take a walk through the interactive website and art gallery, here https://dukecameradigita.wixsite.com/story. We created both to document our journey and to invite you to reflect on your own experiences with artificial intelligence and emerging technologies.

Project Sponsor(s): Jeff Ward, Director of the Duke Center on Law & Tech, Associate Dean for Technology & Innovation, and Clinical Professor of Law, Duke School of Law
Project Manager: Dr. Ariana Eily, a science communication expert, a Fellow of the Duke Center on Law & Tech, and a former postdoctoral fellow of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society.
Undergraduates: Marie Cheng, Amber Park, Athena Yao

Choose Your Words Carefully: Storytelling, Duke Magazine, and the University’s Black Community

 

Overview: Duke Magazine has been around in several iterations since 1917 and has sought to engage alumni in the life of the university through storytelling. President Price’s recent goal of Duke becoming an anti-racist university raises new (and yet perhaps, old) questions: What story has the magazine been telling? Whose story has the magazine been sharing? How has that story changed over time? The aim of this project is to use textual analysis and oral history to examine the magazine through the prism of marketing, journalism, language, and race. We hope the data gleaned from this project will inform the magazine’s language and approach going forward in terms of story selection and scope.

Outcome: In six weeks, the Choose Your Words Carefully team examined the storytelling in Duke Magazine and analyzed how it reflects the university’s perception of the Black community. In the research, this team focuses on three questions: what story has the magazine been telling, whose story has the magazine been telling, and how has the story changed over time. This team combines the history of Duke University fighting for racial justice narrated in Theodore D. Segal's book Point of Reckoning, and selects three time periods as the analysis objects: 1967-1980 featured with civil rights movement, desegregation, silent vigil and the takeover of Allen Building, 2000- 2010 with Duke lacrosse case, 2016-2020 with the presidency of Donald Trump, COVID-19 Pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, and extracted some necessary nuance. The team concluded that Duke Magazine’s narrative voice is still largely dominated by white power and suggested that the magazine can improve this situation through oral history and Black-led publication.
 
Project Sponsor: Adrienne Johnson Martin, Managing Editor, Duke Magazine
Graduate Mentor: Lacie Chen, Graduate Liberal Studies
Undergraduates: James Ndung'u, Arial Strode, Lynne Wang

Geer Cemetery: Labor, Dignity, and Practices of Freedom in an African American Burial Ground

 

Overview: Durham’s Geer Cemetery, just two miles from Duke’s East Campus, was founded in 1877 by African Americans who were born enslaved. In active use for over 60 years, it became the burial place of Black people who built this city and many of its most important institutions, but also a place of institutional neglect and indignity inflicted upon the dead and their descendants. It stands as an example of the broader “preservation crisis” for African American cemeteries nationwide. A diverse, community-based group of volunteers called the Friends of Geer Cemetery is working to reclaim the cemetery, addressing its physical state as well as its buried histories. The goals of this Story+ project are:

  1. Grapple together with what efforts to reclaim a neglected African American cemetery contribute to reckoning with race and white supremacy in Durham and beyond, and where digital storytelling fits into those efforts;
  2. Research the lives of specific individuals buried at Geer and their families, with an emphasis on ties to the Duke family and the university, especially through overlooked and invisible labor;
  3. Look more broadly at how these individuals, and the people who buried and mourned them in this cemetery, advanced the dignity of the dead and crafted visions of resistance and freedom;
  4. Contribute mini-essays, timelines, archival images and other materials—and new ideas!—to a website that will chronicle the histories of the cemetery and educate the public.

We are seeking to form a research team with members from both Duke and NCCU. All team members will be trained in genealogical research and other relevant methods, and will be considered co-creators not only of the content but also the thematic design, visual format, and other key aspects of this project. We welcome applications from undergraduates with some exposure to archival research, library-based or otherwise, nonfiction writing for a wide audience, and skills in web design, graphic design, or other tools of digital storytelling. That said, more than any particular skill area or prior experience, we are interested to hear about your interests in public history, genealogy, racial justice, death and burial, and/or public space. We are looking for team members who value collaboration, are willing to take initiative but also listen carefully to others, and want exposure to models of community-engaged, public scholarship. To learn more about the project, take a look at this “Histories of Dignity” event (April 2020), which includes (from about mins 20-31) an overview of the cemetery’s history, with images, delivered by Debra Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia. The video is here on vimeo, vimeo.com/409810044, and the password is 'dignity'.

Outcome: For six weeks, our team worked to explore the history of Geer Cemetery, a historic cemetery with deep connections to the foundations of Durham. Located in the Duke Park neighborhood, Geer Cemetery was the first public non denominational cemetery for African Americans in Durham. However, even as a public cemetery, Geer Cemetery did not enjoy public funding while it was an active cemetery. The cemetery was closed in 1944 by the city due to overcrowding and it is estimated that over 3,000 people are interred in Geer. Due to being a public non denominational cemetery, this city of the dead represents not only prominent founders but everyday citizens who contributed their lives to extraordinary works. Working in partnership with the Friends of Geer Cemetery, Duke University archivists, North Carolina Central University faculty, and descendants of those interred in the cemetery, our researchers worked to study the cemetery in detail, uncover the stories of ordinary citizens and add these stories back into the historic narrative about Geer. Each researcher explored themes of invisibilized labor, Black institution building in the city of Durham, African American burial practices and the connections between Geer Cemetery and Duke University. The result was three distinct and interactive digital research projects that will contribute to the growing digital presence the Friends of Geer Cemetery is developing to showcase the history of the space. Over the six weeks, our team engaged with case studies of cemetery preservation projects, learned about the intricacies of working with community stakeholders, practiced archival research and primary source analysis, and communicated with descendants of those buried in Geer Cemetery. The first half of our time together was spent learning key context about Geer and Durham itself, and about preservation projects of cemeteries across the United States. We also practiced research skills such as conducting oral history interviews, developing life histories, and engaging with genealogy. We explored much in such a truncated time together and while engaging in research, we struggled through questions of how systems of oppression impact historic preservation of life histories, making sense of archival silence (when marginalized people are not represented, or represented only through the gaze of the powerful, in the archives), and the role of physical land as a historical actor with its own unique voice and contributions. Alongside our research on the physical place itself, we spent time analyzing our own individual lives--charting connections between burial practices and traditions at Geer and in our own cultural contexts, charting our own lineages through research, and sharing our own stories of stewarding the dead, engaging with the land and searching for hidden histories in our families and communities.Together, our team sought to explore these questions and more as they supported each other in developing their projects. Their curiosity, analytical skills, and creativity came to the forefront as they worked to develop their projects over the six-week period. Each researcher has given a brief overview of their project in our video. To explore their projects in more depth, please click the links below.
Project Sponsor(s): Adam Rosenblatt, Associate Professor of the Practice in International Comparative Studies and board member, Friends of Geer Cemetery; Debra Taylor Gonzalez-Garcia, President of the Friends of Geer Cemetery, genealogist, and instructor at Durham Technical Community College; Nicholas Levy, PhD Candidate in History, Stanford University, and board member, Friends of Geer Cemetery; Carissa Trotta, Counselor at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and board member, Friends of Geer Cemetery
Graduate Mentor: Orilonise D. Yarborough, M.A. Student of Public History, North Carolina Central University
Undergraduates: Nyrobi Manuel, Kerry Rork, Huiyin Zhou

Hardship and Resilience: Experiences of International Students During COVID-19

 

Overview: In light of anti-immigrant and “America First” policies, the last four years have been incredibly difficult for international students.  The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the racial and socio-economic inequality on our campuses.  While the majority of the international students returned to their home countries or otherwise found safe accommodations with close friends or extended family in the U.S., a small number of students remained in residence on campus because of travel restrictions, limited financial resources, lack of reliable internet access back home, or health and safety concerns.  Students who remained on campus had to adjust quickly to online learning and social support available under conditions of lockdown, social distancing, and a limited student affairs presence – all of which was different from what the international students expected when they made the decision to study in the U.S. 

While these students faced difficult personal and educational circumstances, they also showed remarkable resilience.  The proposed project is to research, document, and tell the stories of 15 international undergraduates who remained in campus residence in North Carolina during the pandemic.  The goals of the proposed project are: 1) to learn more about the curricular and co-curricular experiences of international undergraduates who remained at institutions with a strong residence life component in North Carolina during the pandemic; 2) to find out what strategies these students used to respond and cope with the pandemic; 3) to document the student experiences for our institutional records; and 4) to learn how we can better support our most vulnerable international students.

Outcome: Through reviewing the history of international students in the U.S. and current government regulations affecting students in nonimmigrant status, and interviewing undergraduates with various cultural backgrounds, the undergraduate and graduate students participating on this research team worked toward an understanding of international student experiences in the U.S. higher education context. The website they created together, at https://sites.duke.edu/hardshipandresilience/, documents student experiences during this unprecedented time for our institutional records.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Li-Chen Chin, Assistant Vice President for Intercultural Programs, Duke University; Lisa Giragosian, Director of International House, Duke University
Graduate Mentor: Ellie Vilakazi, PhD Student, English
Undergraduates: Priya Meesa and Justin Zhang
Undergraduate Collaborators from Project Partner Schools: Helen Zhang, Davidson College and Teboho Motselekatse, Methodist University

Mapping Roots with Migrant Roots Media

 

Overview: Migrant Roots Media (MRM) is a digital platform which amplifies the voices of migrants, children of migrants, and those struggling to thrive in their homelands to unearth the root causes of global migration. We strategically position intersectional voices to advance narratives and political analyses concerning migration and other social issues. Through investigative and first-person articles, media workshops, and campus collaborations, we work to reframe discourses around migration and human mobility.   Our project will involve working with students, preferably migrants or children of migrants,  to conduct research on the different social, political, economic, and/or environmental forces that destabilize communities and produce forced migration. Students will choose a country to investigate, and it is highly encouraged that the student make their decision based on a personal connection to this country (for example, it could be their own or their parents’ country of origin). Inspired by decolonizing scholars like Linda Tuhiwai Smith, we ask that students consider their personal and ancestral connections as a corrective to an extractive and exploitative history of “objective” and “detached” research that facilitates colonization and imperialism. Each student will create a timeline of historical events for their chosen country which will be published in our website, write a narrative that highlights the main topics they encounter and which may include a personal story-telling component, and create a visual that will be presented to an audience in a digital gallery-style format. This project will employ (auto)ethnographic approaches, oral history methods, and archival research. Keeping in mind Story+ emphasis on intertwining systems of oppression, our students’ research will consider how Indigeneity, race, gender, class, sexuality, and physical ability shape a community’s lived experience and factors into migratory journeys. An intersectional analysis is key to our goals and will be central to students’ Story+ projects.  

Preference will be given to students who are migrants or children of migrants. There are no essential skills required, but a strong willingness to learn, communicate openly, share opinions, be responsive, and collaborate with others is desired.

Outcome: The Mapping Roots team is a partnership between Story+ and Migrant Roots Media (MRM), a digital platform founded by Durham-based activist Roxana Bendezú. With its mission to unearth the root causes of migration, MRM strives to amplify the voices of migrants, children of migrants, and those struggling to stay and thrive in their homelands. Through MRM’s collaboration with Story+, student researchers are encouraged to select a country and conduct in-depth research on the complex matrix of push and pull factors that compel some citizens to leave and build lives elsewhere. Drawing on the methodological interventions of Chicana scholar Gloria E. Anzaldúa, the program is designed as autohistoria‐teoría, an approach that sees the personal and political as entwined and inextricable from one another. Students are encouraged to select their research site based on a personal connection, for example, their parents’ homeland(s). The Mapping Roots project was led by Dr Barbara Sostaita, Higher Education Director for MRM.

As migrants and children of migrants - with strong bonds to those whose existence in their homelands is indelibly shaped by global migration - the Mapping Roots team worked together and apart over six weeks to identify the root causes of migration from our homelands to the West. We worked to map the interconnections between the geopolitical, socio-economic, cultural, environmental, and personal. Our weekly meetings were shaped by a rich blend of foundational theoretical readings on migration, hybridity, and challenging normative ideas around border politics and citizenship. Workshops on conducting ethnographic research as a community member, poetry, archival research practice, and oral history equipped our team members with interdisciplinary and multimodal research skills.

The Mapping Roots researchers respectively explored root causes of migration from China over the past 60 years, internal displacement and forced migration in Colombia, and voluntary migration from India with a focus on gender. Each student mapped a timeline of historical and political events for their chosen country, observing the relation between (trans)national happenings with their family migration stories. Based on their findings, each researcher built a website that brought together the scholarly, narrative-poetic, visual art-based works they produced throughout the program and may continue to work in the future. The team created an audio-visual work of poetry for the Story+ 2021 Research Symposium, which draws on the overlapping themes that emerged throughout our research process.

Links to student researcher's websites:

Project Sponsor(s): Roxana Bendezú, Founder and Director, Migrant Roots Media; Bárbara Sostaita, Higher Education Director, Migrant Roots Media
Graduate Mentor(s): Dubie Toa-Kwapong, PhD student, Cultural Anthropology
Undergraduates: Cat Xia, Shreya Joshi, Juanita Vargas

Public Art As Public Health: Moving Messages of Dementia Inclusion

 

Overview: Physical distancing regulations linked to the COVID-10 pandemic have produced social isolation on a truly global scale. For persons living with Dementia and cognitive health disorders in Durham, the need to combat social isolation and restore human connection and wellbeing today is particularly urgent. Public Art as Public Health: Moving Messages of Dementia Inclusion casts Duke students as an interdisciplinary arts research team engaged in the co-creation of environmental, digital, and participatory art and public storytelling alongside community organizational partners from Dementia Inclusive Durham (DID). Working alongside Duke Professor Sarah Wilbur (Dance), interdisciplinary artist Brittany J. Green and facilitators from TimeSlips Creative Storytelling (www.timeslips.org), students spend six weeks investigating how interdisciplinary art and creative engagement can support Dementia-awareness education and creative care for persons living with Dementia as a city-wide responsibility. After receiving training in Dementia literacy and interdisciplinary arts processes including TimeSlips creative storytelling facilitation methods, members of our team will join weekly creative care gatherings (hosted by phone and/or ZOOM) and build connections with persons with Dementia and their care partners. Archived stories and creative contributions from consenting creative storytelling participants will serve as source material for virtually disseminated art work designed to raise awareness of DID among the Durham public at large. Through direct engagement with persons living with Dementia and their care partners, our Story+ team joins this ambitious city-wide effort to build a Creative Community of Care and to declare Durham a Dementia-friendly, Dementia-capable city by 2023.

Our project partners embrace the fundamental creativity and cultural values of all students as assets for arts based research. Given the social distancing challenges of the proposed public engagement, we are particularly excited to enlist students with skills or interests in learning and applying visual arts and design, performing arts and writing in the virtual realm. This Story+ project is particularly suited for students whose research interests and experiences span the arts, US health policy, and cross-sector community-based public health and cultural development.

Outcome: Our arts-based research team spent six weeks generating multiple narratives of dementia inclusion and stitching them together in the form of a digital workbook prototype focused on hailing people who do not live with dementia or cognitive challenges to consider their role in destigmatizing this condition and fostering cultures of inclusion in Durham and North Carolina through critical acts of listening, learning, and care. To contend with our guiding research question—how can artistic and creative expression contribute to messages of widespread inclusion and cultural change for persons living with dementia and their care partners?--we built a shared vocabulary grounded in a disability justice framework. We drew from public health archives, dementia inclusion and education literatures put forth by our community partners (TimeSlips and Dementia Inclusive Durham/DID), and—crucially—testimony and creative ideas contributed by persons living with dementia in Durham and the triangle area. These latter contributors are, in our view, the true “experts.” Our resulting workbook sought to highlight their creativity, experiences and wisdom as  foundational to the kind of widespread cultural and structural change that DID currently envisions. With our artistic methodologies sequestered to the virtual realm, we chose to compile our prototype in the format of a GoogleSlides presentation. Team members each applied their creative assets to the charge, producing visual art, collage, poetry, music and sound compositions, and video performance works that hail workbook readers to consider how they might speak, move, or otherwise commit to widespread dementia support. Our multi-talented and critically empathetic research team members did not set out to “answer” the question of how to make Durham a “Dementia-Inclusive City.” In true humanistic form, we insisted, instead, that the answers to how to live a full and flourishing life in Durham are multiple and unstandardizeable, and are best represented multi-vocally. Our workbook, thus, is structured like a song, with verses and choruses that provoke anyone who encounters the prototype to see themselves as critical listeners and co-learners in this community-wide project.
About TimeSlips Creative Engagement and Storytelling Methodologies (nonprofit arts organization committed to bringing meaning and purpose to the lives of elders through arts participation and creative engagement): https://timeslips.org. All student and grad mentors received online training in TimeSlips creative storytelling methods to participate in this project. Sourced responses to open ended “beautiful” questions formed the inspiration for some of the messages in our resultant workbook prototype.
 
About Dementia Inclusive Durham— DID was our community partner organization, organizers united by the vision of Durham as a place where persons living with dementia are fully valued and supported in their full flourishing. DID volunteers are working with a wide range of local organizations (senior centers, museums, faith based communities, dementia-service organizations, and universities) to make Durham a Dementia-Inclusive city by 2023 by uniting different community sectors and stakeholders and educating them about how to participate in creating cultural understanding around dementia and dismantling its stigmatizing impacts on families. https://www.didnc.org
Project Sponsor(s): Sarah Wilbur, Ph.D., M.F.A.Assistant Professor of the Practice, Duke Dance Program
Graduate Mentor: Brittany J. Green, PhD Candidate Music
Undergraduates: Arthi Kozhumam, Maria Oliva Santos, Sanjana Jha

The Seat of Fascism: Narratives of Repression and Resistance in North Carolina

 

Overview: In the 1970s, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) selected North Carolina to be the focus of its inaugural campaign. On July 4, 1974, an estimated 10,000 people from over twenty-five states traveled to Raleigh to participate in a protest organized by the NAARPR and sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From the steps of the Capitol building, keynote speaker Angela Davis suggested “racism and political repression is more severe in North Carolina than in any other state in this country.” ‘The Seat of Fascism’: Narratives of Repression and Resistance in North Carolina, offers students the opportunity to examine this unique and important moment in history. What can the constellation of social movement campaigns from 1970s North Carolina tell us about the role of the carceral state in stifling democracy and suppressing meaningful social change? Students that join our Story+ team will investigate whether and how the state uses incarceration as a tool of repression in the post-Civil Rights era by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting archival materials focusing on the NAARPR, including documents from the Duke student chapter of the organization, as well as the North Carolina Political Prisoners Committee. With the materials they collect from Rubenstein’s archival collections - such as protest ephemera, meeting notes, legal documents, legislative records, images, zine articles, and personal correspondence - students will excavate the past in an effort to contextualize the present, inviting audiences to consider how these histories might align with or inform contemporary movements in Durham and across North Carolina that are fighting against political repression, mass incarceration, and police violence. By the end of the six week term, student researchers will create a digital database focusing on collection items that will help us tell the story of political repression and resistance in North Carolina. 

Outcome: The Seat of Fascism team spent our six weeks together exploring digitized archives from local and national repositories for sources that illustrated both the tactics of repression the North Carolina state government used against Black Liberation movements and BIPOC individuals in the 1970s, and the modes of resistance these communities cultivated to dream their own futures. Though North Carolina at this time sought to project itself as a bastion of post-racial New South stability to the rest of the nation and the world, the reality on the ground looked much more like a laboratory for repression, where strategies to continue inequality and violence that are still recognizable in the U.S. today were tested and developed. As a response, the NAARPR deemed coordinated resistance efforts in the state with the idea that if state repression could be stopped in North Carolina, it might be stopped anywhere. Our project sits in this moment of contradiction. During our meetings as a group, we read and discussed a variety of sources that illuminate this history in North Carolina and the U.S., learning extensively about political prisoners, prison abolition movements, COINTELPRO, labor movements, and police violence throughout North Carolina. In particular we came to conclude that the most important thread our story must tell is that there is no story of repression without stories of resistance. Alongside this work, our team studied the potentials of and powers of digital exhibit cultivation while building an Omeka site.

This digital exhibit [Link coming soon!] is the culmination of our work, containing the larger narratives we explored and the three stories within it that each student researcher felt passionately about telling: Incarceration as a Tool of Repression, The Black Panther Party of Winston-Salem, and Political Prisoners and Self Defense Campaigns. Students collected photographs, news clippings, pamphlets, letters, sketches, and community news bulletins that allowed them to weave together these twinned stories of repression and resistance both across North Carolina and locally in Duke’s own history.

Project Sponsor(s): Kimber Heinz of Scaffold Exhibits and Consulting; Meghan McDowell, 2020 - 2021 Humanities Unbounded Visiting Faculty Fellow at Duke 
Graduate Mentor: Melissa Karp, PhD student, Literature
Undergraduates: Makee Anderson, Kamdon Early, Sophie Johnson

What This Land Has Seen: The Past and Future of the Duke Campus Farm

 

Overview: More than ten years ago, Duke undergraduate students founded the Duke Campus Farm (DCF) in a rural area seven miles from main campus, in the Duke Forest. Their primary aim was to provide themselves and others with direct experience of the joys and hard work of growing real food. Over the last decade, the farm has evolved from a student-led interest group into a more fully-fledged university program with a broader mission: to catalyze positive change in the food system. As we imagine a (mostly likely virtual) celebration of the ten-year anniversary of our program, we want to mark the evolution of DCF and its impact on students, and offer appreciation to all those in the Duke and Durham communities whose brains and brawn built our current operation. In telling the story of the farm, we also want to honor the endurance of the land itself and the suffering of enslavement and displacement it and its communities have witnessed - like much of the South, the land that is now DCF also has a darker history of plantation enslavement, indigenous extermination, and extractive agriculture.

While the form of the final product will be determined by the group, we hope that what comes out of this summer will offer one way to address a question that we’re grappling with as people living in the United States - can we tell these stories as part of a cohesive whole and if so, how? How can we celebrate what has been achieved and acknowledge what has been sacrificed for this achievement, in order to work collectively toward repair? Drawing on the presences and absences in the farm’s existing archive, we hope to tell the story of the past and future of the Duke Campus Farm, both as a vibrant space of learning and ecological repair, and as a site of mourning, enslavement, extraction and displacement.

Outcome: “What This Land Has Seen” brought our team together around a central question: how can we tell the multiple histories of the Duke Campus Farm? The researchers brought their diverse experience with food studies, cultural anthropology, documentary studies, environmental science, science communication, agriculture, and community care to their exploration of DCF’s archive. They crafted research questions probing three central aspects of the land’s history: first, its original Indigenous occupants, the Couch family whose plantation displaced them, the African Americans whom the Couches enslaved to work the land, and its nonhuman cohabitants; second, DCF’s heritage garden, the Cackalacky Plot, and its usage to discuss land history through plants like okra, cowpeas, colored cotton, corn, squash, and tobacco; finally, the decade of student projects and student-facing programs which continue to engage Duke undergraduates through interdisciplinary experiential learning and embodied knowledge of the food system.

Our team produced a Miro board to share their research. They chose this format because it allowed them to show the connections between their three categories of inquiry. Through five themes, they were able to demonstrate the circular, intertwined nature of the land’s multiple histories, its present work, and its future aspirations. These themes were: community, interpretation and representation; memorializing and erasure; nonhuman subjects; and embodied knowledge. They linked them under the overarching concept of biocultural restoration.

They wrote a land acknowledgement for DCF to acknowledge the Indigenous nations who stewarded the land prior to colonization, introduce audiences to the local Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and highlight at least thirty-six enslaved people whose lives on the Couch plantation were erased from historical memory.

They conducted interviews with past and present DCF crew members, undergraduate Duke Immerse alumni and DCF student volunteers, and experts like soil scientist Dan Richter.

Finally, they pointed to potential next steps based on their research findings this summer, including: more hands-on programming; a centralized location for student projects; and relationship-building with community history holders, the Occaneechi Saponi, and migrant farmworkers.

To learn more about DCF and associated organizations/communities:

Project Sponsor: Saskia Cornes, Program Director, Duke Campus Farm//Assistant Professor of the Practice, Franklin Humanities Institute
Graduate Mentor: Nikki Locklear, PhD candidate, History
Undergraduates: Ella Dunham, Tyler Edwards, Sierra Winters

What's Past is Prologue: Exploring the intersectionality between race, justice, and disability in North Carolina

Overview: In this Story+ project, we will explore the intersection of health, disability and race on social justice and the expression of human rights among North Carolinians.  Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 30th year of existence in July 2020, there remains much work to be done to achieve the aspirational goal of equal rights for all.  In many ways the COVID19 pandemic has shown America that we may not all be equal, and in this Story+ project we will hear the voices and share the stories of people from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities who live with a disability across North Carolina. We set out on this explorative and investigative journey with 2 overarching aims, but declare our humility and recognize that these may change over time; (1) To explore the interaction of race, justice and disability among the BIPOC community in North Carolina.  Here, we will interview North Carolinians with disabilities, hear and document their lived experiences, and then work and collaborate to creatively share their stories and experiences, and (2) To provide unique opportunities for Duke graduate and undergraduate students to deepen their own personal journey of developing humility, knowledge, understanding and respect for others of different abilities.  Building on these essential competencies of caring and responsible citizenship, we aspire as a collective to become more understanding of challenges faced by BIPOC North Carolinians with disabilities.

The primary mode of communication or animation of our findings will be through the design and production of the storyline of a Mass Open Online Course (MOOC) on this important and emerging topic of consequence.  The outputs of this project will also be linked to a 2021-2022 extension of an existing Bass Connection project titled, ‘Leave No One Behind: Exploring the Impact of the COVID19 Pandemic on People with Disabilities (PWDs) in North Carolina'.

Outcome: The What is Past is Prologue Team leveraged the product-oriented project of the PI Sponsor, Dr. Michel Landry, with the individual personal and professional growth objectives of the individual research members, Kaelyn Griffiths, Josee Li, and Binisha Patel, and the Project Manager, Bryan Rusch. The project’s goal was to develop a foundation from which a Bass Connections team the next semester could build a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from, integrating marginalized voices of disabled individuals from the BIPOC community to shed light on cultural, health care, and policy inequalities in North Carolina. The short timeframe and technical restrictions forced the team to become adaptable to the sources and logistic restraints of the six weeks. Conversational interviews with scholars and activists were coupled with scholarly articles and books, and multimedia sources available on the internet to immerse the team in the multifaceted experience of disability, and the community surrounding it. The first half of the project focused on building a knowledge base of the theories, history, and individuals important to disability studies and disabled communities. Daily meetings saw the team expand their own knowledge of the fields of Disability Studies and Justice and grow their own sense of community. Through weekly reflection sessions, the team continued to reaffirm their commitment to intersectional views to be upheld not only within the MOOC to be developed, but their own future work. The second half saw lightning-sessions, where the team members came to each session with handpicked sources on the various topics to be included in the syllabus, and each module of the MOOC was storyboarded. In the end, the researchers produced ten module storyboards, providing key documents and topics for each section, and ensuring that each module has generous time devoted to giving platform to the voices of those most affected. As the six weeks ended, the team also worked towards ensuring the longevity of each member’s involvement within Disability Studies and Justice. From the sources and techniques derived over the past six weeks, Kaleyn and Binisha developed two research questions to be further explored through capstone Independent Studies in the Sociology Department, and Josee began the process of developing a House Course for the Spring on Disability. In conjunction with these projects, Bryan is now developing a working group for undergraduate and graduate students working on topics of Disability Studies to facilitate research projects, events, and develop relationships with the disabled members of the Durham community. The team’s work in Story+ and beyond were defined by the four commitments they established during their first session: Creating Community; Ensuring Authenticity; Producing Advocacy; and Creating Visibility. None of the work that was done and products generated during these six weeks stopped on June 26. What is Past is Prologue rings true for all members of this team.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Michel D. Landry BScPT, MBA, PhD; Professor, School of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), Duke Global Health Institute, and the Duke-Margolis Centre for Health Policy; Raj Telhan MD MFA; Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Graduate Mentor: Bryan Rusch, PhD student Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Undergraduates: Kaelyn Griffiths, Josee Li, Binisha Patel

Body Work: Reanimating Policy Responses to Coal Mining Disasters

 

 

Overview: During this collision of artistic and academic energies, students will examine U.S. policy responses to significant coal mining disasters during the 20th Century and experiment with methods of processing their research through dance. Drawing on evidence such as transcripts of Congressional hearings, federal reports explaining the causes of disasters, and oral histories with coal miners and their families, students will employ content analysis methods to answer two primary questions: how were the narratives used to explain each disaster constructed? And how did those narratives influence policy that aimed to prevent similar catastrophes in the future? At the same time, dance artist, educator, and researcher Justin Tornow will introduce the students to embodiment methods, which will include an introduction to somatic practices, structured improvisations for movement and spatial orientation, and the use of chance operations. By the end of the six-week term, students will draw on these tools to compose a post-modern movement performance that communicates both their research and the results of including embodiment as one of their methodological cornerstones. Through this unique research experience, students will investigate themes such as the politics of expertise, the role of focusing events and class and gender-based power dynamics in policymaking, the impact of embodiment on academic inquiry and communication, and the alienation of human bodies from processes of energy production in fossil-fueled societies like the modern U.S.

Outcome: This team experimented with various methods of embodied research while investigating the roles that coal miners’ bodies played in policymakers’ efforts to improve mine safety following major disasters. These embodied methods included basic exercises (regularly-scheduled mindfulness meditations and stretching) designed to focus each researcher’s attention on their body. More advanced techniques used, such as matching the postures of miners at work or on a picket line, or the breath patterns of oral history narrators disabled by black lung, were creative and interpretive methods that sought to reconfigure both how they processed their research and their relationship to the subjects at its core. This work resulted in two interrelated conclusions: that policymakers conceptualized miners’ bodies as unruly objects in need of regulation more often than they understood them as human beings in need of protection from mining’s various dangers; and that an intentional and critical emphasis on engaging both the body and mind during research has the potential to transform the research experience in ways that may expand the archive and open doors to deeper empathy.

Project Sponsor(s): Jonathon Free, Ph.D., Lecturing Fellow and Assistant Director for Research Development, Duke University Energy Initiative; Justin Tornow, Dance artist, researcher, and educator
Graduate Mentor: Hannah Smith, MEM candidate, Environmental Management
Undergraduates: Alice Carroll, Emma Cairns, Juliet Irving (MFA candidate, Dance)

Caring for and with Patient Archives

 

 

Overview: From 1917 to 1926, the attending physician of a state-run hospital for black North Carolinians in the segregated south photographed asylum life, keeping handwritten notebooks describing each image. These powerful portraits present a rare opportunity to unearth hidden histories and explore memory, trauma, and resilience. This Story+ project pursues the stories of the photographed nurses, staff, farm employees and their families who lived on site, not simply for learning about the asylum’s past but how that past speaks prophetically to our present. 

Students will use the portraits as starting points for researching mental health careworkers and caretakers, past and present, and will bring to light the voices long silenced. More broadly, we will use this documentary archive as an opportunity to think together about how researchers demonstrate care for and with an archive of sensitive material. How can this type of work can be done thoughtfully, with intention, and in a moment of health-crisis? How should one go about documenting, responding to, learning from, and taking care of such a sensitive archive? Our job will be to honor these people, and the past, and to develop a research methodology so that these images can become available for further study and, one day, find their way to family members.

Outcome: Hungry River Project Mission Statement

From 1918 to 1926, Dr Frank Whelpley took thousands of photographs at State Hospital, Goldsboro, North Carolina’s segregated insane asylum. The negatives and corresponding ledgers detailing each frame were discovered in his son’s New York City apartment and given to the present hospital by the photographer’s family in 1997, for the good of the patients.

The Hungry River Project is a collective working to reunite the people in pictures with their families. While these images are a rare reconnection to lost stories, they are also a powerful indictment of the systems which produced them and repeatedly failed the people within them. We believe that that good of the patient can only be determined in the hands of their descendant families. We work to honor the suffering we cannot relieve and get these souls home.

Project Sponsor: Tift Merritt, musician
Graduate Mentor: Anita Bateman, PhD Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
Undergraduates: Jolie Mason, Miranda Gershoni, Ridge Ren, Peter Liu, Tayzhaun Glover (PhD candidate, History)

Critical Decisions: Perceptions of AI in Healthcare Management

 

 

Overview: Navigating the output of algorithms, and the contradictions they create, is an essential skill across a wide array of industries. In the healthcare industry, care managers are increasingly relying on artificial intelligence to determine patient outcomes. This project investigates the intersection of algorithmic decision-making processes and patient care outcomes in hospital settings. Care managers, nurses, social workers and pharmacists engage with this intersection to make judgments on a daily basis and determine the outcomes of patients. This is particularly true when interfacing with chronic, high risk, and in-need patients. Through a series of interviews and web-based video documentation, our group will investigate how these interactions play out in health care settings. How can care managers navigate the output of these models when they contradict on-the-ground realities? What kind of trust can be placed in these algorithms? What kind of technical understanding is necessary to navigate this space? Throughout this Story+, we tell the stories of these care managers as they navigate these processes. We interview care managers on a number of issues to understand their interactions with computational decision making processes. We will explore the social impacts of these processes and develop a narrative that weaves together the stories of care managers and the developers of the algorithms. Lastly, we will explore how these stories lend themselves to broader social narratives around workplace automation, algorithmic decision making, and ethical dilemmas at the intersection of artificial and human judgment.

Outcome: Through six weeks of remote research, the team dug into the fields of AI & health care and conducted ten interviews with professionals. With the interview footage and research materials, the team accomplished a documentary film and built a web-based interactive documentary which can be found in full above and online here: https://vimeo.com/432173153

Project Sponsor(s): Lawrence Greenblatt: Professor of Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine; Ricardo Henao: Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics; Matthew Kenney: Assistant Research Professor, Computational Media Arts and Cultures; Tara Kinard: Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Population Health Management Office; Andrew Olson: Associate Director, Policy Strategy and Solutions for Health Data Science; Ursula Rogers, Senior Informaticist, Duke Forge; Shelley Rusincovitch: Associate Director of Informatics, Duke Forge
Graduate Mentor: Mingyong Cheng, MFA Candidate, Experimental and Documentary Arts
Undergraduates: Megan Liu, Emily Mawyer, Rifah Nanjiba, Denna Huang, Danah Younis

Digital Ethnography and Global (Quarantined) DJs

 

 

Overview: As we enter into the long night of the coronavirus pandemic, many are “bracing-in” and struggling to see the dawn. The entertainment and service industries have been particularly hard hit as musicians, technicians, service staff, and venues struggle to survive during a time of enforced isolation. However, the DJ community has had a swift response. The proliferation of DJ and collective livestream musical performances has soared in recent weeks. If so inclined, one could find DJ performances across genres on any given day. Such broadcasts take place on platforms like Facebook Live, YouTube, and more recently the videogame streaming platform, Twitch. DJs perform from bedrooms, backyards, or empty clubs and studios. All with an increasing attention to production value. Virtual attendees interact in chatrooms or organize break-out Zoom “rooms” where participants can dance, interact, and engage. All from the safety of their own spaces. It is a moment for the emergence of new forms of musical performance, participation, and sociality.

This project will engage at a crucial point in the coronavirus pandemic as technologies, sounds, and modes of engagement morph in response to the demands of social distancing. As such, students will begin with the following broad preliminary inquiries from which many more are certain to emerge: How are DJs and attendees creating new forms of socialization through livestream events? How does the relationship between DJs and technology contribute to the speed with which they have mobilized? Is this an emergent mode of expression that will last, or is it a stopgap during the isolation of the pandemic? Who is getting paid?

Following some preliminary readings, students will be engaging in Digital Ethnography. They will attend livestream DJ events, interact with participants, and make detailed records of their findings. Livestreams will also be evaluated in terms of genres, sound quality, broadcast quality, presence of ads or donation links for the DJs, number of participants, and region. This will also require substantial curiosity, initiative, and agility as students will need to adapt to different platforms and styles of performance as they continue to emerge and converge during the pandemic. While the form of the final product will be determined by the group, it will address not only the response from within the DJ community, but also connect to broader considerations about the ways that artists and musicians have innovated strategies for surviving the crisis.

Outcome: The COVID19 pandemic thrust the world of live Electronic Dance Music DJ performance into a precarious virtual space. DJs around the globe responded to the prohibition on live musical performance by producing “Livestream” performances across a number of virtual platforms. The Digital Ethnography & Quarantined DJs Story+ Team developed and applied models of digital ethnographic research to these emergent spaces for music, sociality, and commerce as they were imagined and developed in real time. A sense of “liveness” is a foundational component for musical expression and sociality within the Electronic Dance Music community. As such, the team began their research by querying the status of “liveness” in virtual DJ performance. This led to more specific engagements with musical genre, community response to “trolls”, community fundraising and solidarity efforts, and the DIY mentality amongst DJs and participants that hastened the transition from live to virtual space. The team produced a video presentation that features original musical compositions as well as a website (https://djsinquarantine.tumblr.com) that features research journals, foundational readings, and playlists of the DJs that they observed in English, French, Spanish, and German speaking contexts.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Louise Meintjes, PhD; Cade Bourne
Graduate Mentor: Cade Bourne, PhD candidate, Music
Undergraduates: Sarah Derris, Courtney Dantzler, Francisco Banda

Duke and Durham's Response to the 1918 Influenza and the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemics in Comparative Perspective

 

 

Overview: What difference does 100 years make? Working with Duke’s Story+ program, this project will engage students in learning about pandemics and different approaches to studying them, the history of Duke and of Durham, and qualitative methods. Participants will use a hands-on approach to examine, the University’s and city’s response to each of these pandemics in context, and will thereby contribute to our knowledge of public and policy reactions to pandemics, to Duke and Durham and their shared yet distinct history and nature, as well as developing skills in research design, archival research, qualitative analysis, and case study methodology.

Outcome: We spent six weeks studying Durham's response to the 1918 Spanish flu and the ongoing crisis posed by COVID 19. We mobilized a comparative perspective to better understand what difference 100 years makes--if any--to a city's pandemic preparedness. Archival research--pulling from newspapers, advertisements, letters, and public records--pieced together an encompassing image of  the Spanish flu's impact on the city, despite the inherent limitations of the primary sources we had available from that time. And qualitative research methods and tools allowed us to pull from the proliferation of newspaper articles and tweets regarding COVID-19's continued impact  on Durham. We found fascinating differences in how Durham's residents responded to city closures and quarantine regulations--with residents in 1918 overwhelmingly in support of wide-spread shutdown to curb the virus's spread in contrast to large opposition in 2020. We also found largely similar discrepancies in the risk of exposure access to health care based on race; Durham's Black population, in 1918 and 2020, risks more exposure  to infectious disease while lacking public health infrastructure. It is important to note that today a growing Latinx population is much more likely to contract COVID-19 while oftentimes barred access to essential forms of treatment. Public health policies, 100 years ago and today, continue to fall short of providing all citizens a right, not only to health, but forms of disease prevention, a failure that falls along old stratifications of race and class. Moving forward, the research will expand to encompass Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Broadening its scope to understand the ways the triangle might better learn from the Spanish flu to mitigate the harmful effects of COVID-19 in the Triangle. You can view their final powerpoint presentation here.
 
Project Sponsor: Whitney Welsh, Research Scientist, SSRI
Graduate Mentor: Sophia Goodfriend, PhD candidate, Cultural Anthropology
Undergraduates: Jake Heller, Savita Gupta, Sebin Jeon

Experiential Archive

 

 

Overview: The need for compelling, innovative ways to experience archival content is a pressing one—how can we activate data, give it a new life and a new audience? Experiential Archive will facilitate a deep dive in designing meaningful, interactive engagements with archival material. The project’s broader purpose is to exemplify how archival records and documents can be made accessible and vital, how they can circulate freely within public and political discourses. The design process will be modeled on the one used in the DocX lab at the Center for Documentary Studies, an innovative space to experiment and engage in technology-influenced imaginative thinking around documentary forms, styles, and perspectives.

Outcome: The research practices of the Experiential Archive project centered around one question–How can we activate data and give it a new life and audience. The research process began with discussions about pre-existing digital archives and archival interfaces, exploring how digital interfaces can contextualize and decontextualize archival material and engage with questions of identity, culture, and humanity. Research then transitioned into the Rubenstein digital archives and technical research on design tools, the design process, human-centered design, and cybernetic loops. Two digital archive projects arose out of this research– the Ad History House and the Women: The World Over Digital Gallery. These two projects re-imagined content from the AdViews, Ad*Access, and Women: The World Over archival collections in virtual reality interfaces to explore the cultural implications of American ads over time and the function of the male and imperial gaze in visual archival material of women, respectively. 
 
Project Sponsor: Aaron Kutnick, UX + UI Designer, DocX Lab Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Graduate Mentor(s): Brooks Frederickson, PhD Candidate, Music; Brittany Green, PhD Candidate, Music
Undergraduates: Surya Cannon, Krystal Hu, Sana Pashankar, Dennis Tang

HBCU Counterstories: Going Public with the Experiences of Adult Students

 

 

Overview: HBCU Counterstories is a multiyear collaborative project documenting the lived experiences of North Carolina Central University’s adult nontraditional students. Over 200 students have participated so far in focus groups, surveys, and interviews. During Story+, student researchers will learn interpretive methods for working with these materials, statistics, and public representations of adult students. They will also gather news and pop-culture about college to determine to what extent adult students and HBCUs are visible in the public imagination. Our team’s goal is to ethically represent the perspectives and experiences of adult students from NCCU. We will produce counterstories in a variety of creative and scholarly media with an aim to upend public perceptions of adult college students.

Team members will earn certification in human subjects research, and they will have opportunities to explore individual interest areas within the project. Student researchers are encouraged to bring their unique experiences and interdisciplinary knowledge to bear on this work.

Outcome: The HBCU Counterstories team learned about popular media research strategies, then compiled eighty examples of entertainment, news, university public relations, and social media about adult students and/or about HBCUs, noting the scarcity of examples that cover adult students at HBCUs. Team members became certified in human subjects research before handling confidential materials from research participants. They compared audio recordings to interviews transcripts, then corrected and formatted more than twenty transcripts from student interviews and focus groups. They learned different methods of qualitative data analysis including poetic inquiry and thematic coding. Researchers highlighted their analysis of three participants during the Story+ symposium in order to craft counterstories about adult HBCU students. Their stories showcase the heterogeneity and tenacity of this group of students who are often underrepresented in media about the college experience.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Collie Fulford, Associate Professor, English Composition and Rhetoric, North Carolina Central University; Stefanie Frigo, Associate Professor, Writing and Linguistics; Coordinator of B.A Interdisciplinary Studies,  North Carolina Central University
Undergraduates: Charity Philips (NCCU), Tessa Delgo, Adrienne Long (NCCU), Catherine Winfree (NCCU)

Joining the electric circus: rural electrification and gender in the papers of Louisan Mamer

 

 

Overview: Between 1939 and 1941, representatives from the Rural Electrification Agency organized a carnivalesque roadshow designed to encourage families to purchase and use electrical appliances and other equipment in their homes and on their farms. A key audience of the roadshow was rural farm women, who were seen as equal partners in the effort of electrification — and who, the REA reasoned, needed to be shown the way to modernity through electricity. This Story+ project will draw on the Louisan E. Mamer Rural Electrification Administration Papers located at the Smithsonian National Museum for American History to examine how officials’ understanding of the gendered division of labor on American farms informed the tactics they used to encourage utilization of electricity. The overall goal of the project is to understand and share how assumptions about gendered labor influenced the electric circus’s programing, as well as collate any lessons learned for similar programs happening today.

Students will be asked to (at minimum) compile a report on their findings for the Duke University Energy Access Project, and there is also scope to create a podcast episode, or a brief documentary-style video. The Data+ project entitled, “Taking electrification on the road: Exploring the impact of the Electric Farm Equipment roadshow (1939-1941),” is a partner project to this one and may offer opportunity for collaboration with a data-driven team.

Outcome: For Story+ 2020, the “Joining the Electric Circus” team conducted research on the role of gender in rural electrification using the Louisan Mamer Papers. These researchers had prior experience in scientific or quantitative work, but for many of them, this was their first experience working with archival sources. Because of the unusual circumstances, these researchers and leaders never met in person, and the researchers completed all of their work using digitized scans of archival material provided by the project leaders.

By the end of six weeks, the team produced:

  • a written report, titled “Beauty & Efficiency: The Modern Woman and Household Appliances in the REA Roadshow,” which gives an overview of the role of gender in the rural electrification programs of the 1930s United States, and is directed to social scientists and economists who study rural electrification programs today.
  • a draft script for a live cooking demonstration using a historical recipe that highlights the impact of electrical appliances on womens’ lives. The script will be sent to collaborators at the Smithsonian Institution for their potential use or repurpose for use in their own live cooking demonstration programming, “Cooking Up History” 
  • 2 original oral histories and interviews with home economists in North Carolina
  • a video presentation for the Story+ symposium that summarizes the script and features each researcher preparing the chosen recipe
  • 3 delicious lemon icebox pies!

Since the conclusion of Story+, the team has had an opportunity to present their findings to the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative, and one member received funding to pursue a follow-on microhistory project from the MicroWorlds Lab.

Project Sponsor(s): Victoria Plutshack, Policy Associate; Rob Fetter, Senior Policy Associate, Energy Access Project, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions; Ashley Rose Young, Historian, Division of Work and Industry, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
Graduate Mentor: Ashton Merck, PhD, History
Undergraduates: Maddie Fowler, Abigail Phillips, Grace Sipp

Manipulated Materials: Documentary Sculpture

 

 

Overview: The Story+ team for Manipulated Materials will be curating and preparing the fall 2020 exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery which will focus on documentary sculpture. The exhibition artists will be pre-selected, but team members will be interacting with artists, either via in-person studio visit or conference call, researching the themes of the exhibition, as well as creating the in-gallery text, guides and educational materials. We will also begin laying out the exhibit. During the six weeks team members will take an idea and move it closer a concrete reality while considering real-life constraints, such as budget and staffing limitations, and needs such as programming meaningful to both the Duke and greater Durham communities. Students should expect to come away with a good idea of the behind-the-scenes prep work for an exhibition, and begin to consider ways in which art and the gallery interact with and for communities.

Outcome: The work on the first volume of the zine, Shape of Content,  began with a series of questions: What is documentary sculpture? What are its attributes? How is it different than documentary film or photography? Writ large the questions were less about documentary sculpture as a discipline and more about the particularities of object-based storytelling – whether that might be a statue in a central square, or an installation in a gallery. This thought project led, as many do, to a forthcoming exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery with North Carolina native Stephanie J. Woods. I, along with the Story+ team of Caoimhe Harlock, Mina Jang, Ayesham Khan, Rezilience Williamson and Jade Xiong were able to use this exhibit as a point of departure and explore ideas around the body, senses, materials, and how knowledge is created through object-based art. We chased these threads, following side roads and instincts, letting one piece of information lead us to the next - less concerned about reaching a final destination, than navigating the journey. The research outcomes presented here - as with the work of any artist - are mediated through both physical and mental states, taking on the shape they were intended to be.

Project Sponsor: Caitlin Margaret Kelly, Director of Power Plant Gallery
Graduate Mentor: Caoimhe Harlock, PhD candidate, English
Undergraduates: Rezilience Williamson, Mina Jang, Ayesham Khan, Jade Xiong (MFA candidate, Experimental and Documentary Arts)

Unearthing Root Causes of Migration Through Our Stories

 

 

Overview: Migrant Roots Media (MRM) is a digital platform which amplifies the voices of migrants, children of migrants, and those struggling to thrive in their homelands to unearth the root causes of global migration. We strategically position intersectional voices so they can aid in advancing narratives and political analyses concerning migration and other social issues. Our project will involve working with students who will conduct research on the different social, political, economic, and/or environmental forces that affect people and push some of them to leave their countries of origin. Students will be able to choose which country they investigate and it is highly encouraged that the student make their decision based on a personal connection to this country (for example, it could be their own or their parents’ country of origin). Each student will create a timeline of historical events for their chosen country which will be published in our website, write a narrative that highlights the main topics they encounter and which may include a personal story-telling component, and create a visual that will be presented to an audience in a gallery-style format.

Outcome: The Unearthing Root Causes of Migration project was facilitated by Roxana Bendezú, Executive Director of Migrant Roots Media (MRM). Migrant Roots Media creates a space that centers and supports intersectional voices as they strive to analyze and understand the socio-economic, geopolitical, cultural, and environmental roots causes of migration. It aims to amplify the voices of migrants, children of migrants, and those whose existence in their homelands is indelibly transformed by global migration. Over six weeks, we worked in community and independently, as of migrants and children of migrants, to map interconnections and distinctions in our familial and personal migratory stories. Each group member conducted an in-depth research project on the layered push and pull issues that created the conditions for migration from their country (or countries) of origin and compelled their families to leave home and build lives elsewhere. 

During our weekly meetings, we discussed different approaches to situating personal and familial stories in historical context. During weekly workshops, group members were able to engage resources for thinking about the relationship between our countries of origin and the US or other imperial powers. We discussed the assumption in academia and media that researcher or writer must be an 'objective' outsider. We brainstormed ways to cultivate and deploy community-centered methodologies in our respective projects. Workshops in video editing, graphic design, and creative writing equipped us with the multimodal tools needed to bring elements of visuality and narrative texture to our projects. 

In the video above, we share more about the common themes that emerged as the root causes of migration from Honduras, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, and Ghana.

Project Sponsor: Roxana Bendezú, Migrant Roots Media Executive Director, Social Movements Lab Research Fellow
Graduate Mentor: Dubie Toa-Kwapong, PhD candidate, Cultural Anthropology
Undergraduates: Rebekah Alvarenga, Nima Babajani-Feremi, Carmela Guaglianone, Shania Khoo

Full story+ 2019 symposium

 

 


#MyVoiceMyBody: Minoritized Bodies in the Pulpit at Duke Chapel

Overview: Ordination of women continues to remain a controversial issue in numerous Christian denominations. In 1939, Duke Chapel welcomed its first woman preacher (Georgia Harkness), paving way for more than 75 illustrious women preachers who guest-preached or served as associate ministers to Duke Chapel between 1963 to 2001. Who were they? What did they preach? How did they preach? 

2019 Story+ project #MyVoiceMyBody will interrogate the intersections of body, place, and performance in the space of Duke Chapel. Students will work with the archival and digital contents of the Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection, conduct in-person/digital interviews with these pioneering women, and learn the basics of sermon analysis to reveal the connections between identity, rhetoric, and politics. From this research, students will craft a creative multimedia presentation.

Outcome: The #MyVoiceMyBody: Minoritized Bodies in the Pulpit at Duke Chapel team will continue as a Bass Connections project for the 2019-2020 term! You can see more and follow updates here: https://bassconnections.duke.edu/project-teams/myvoicemybody-minoritized-bodies-pulpit-duke-chapel-2019-2020. The #MyVoiceMyBody team was also profiled for Duke Today. You can read that story here: "Story+: Where Humanities Students Combine Creative Storytelling and Research".
 
Project Sponsor: Dr. Jerusha Neal, Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School
Graduate Mentor: Peace Lee, ThD candidate in Homiletics at Duke Divinity School
Undergraduates: Nicholas Simmons, Sarah Xu, Ami Wong

23 and We: Stories of Race in Genetic Ancestry Testing Advertisements

Overview: 23 and We is a 6-week research project that trains students in methods of visual content analysis research and applies those methods to public advertising for genetic ancestry testing. Students will explore background scholarship on themes of race, genetics, and advertising, as well as concrete research methods for content analysis of television and internet advertisements. Through this program, students will develop skills to: apply research methods to commercial advertisements, generate content analysis on phenotypical and racial markers in those advertisements, and translate initial findings into interdisciplinary academic outputs. In the final two weeks students will design and execute a project of public storytelling to share findings with the broader public.

Outcome: Do DNA Tests Sell Rosy Ideas About Race for Profit?

Project Sponsor(s): Keisha Bentley-Edwards, Associate Director of Research, Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine, Duke University; Adam Hollowell, Senior Research Associate, Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Adjunct Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy
Graduate Mentor: Patricia Bass, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Dakota Douglas, Mona Tong, Madelyn Winchester

Beyond Despair: Narrating the Environment through the Humanities

 

 

Overview: As part of its larger public engagement initiative, the National Humanities Center (NHC) proposes the creation of an eight-episode podcast series that focuses on critical environmental issues and the role the humanities can play in understanding and galvanizing action. Members of the Story+ team are tasked with creatively engaging with this theme to create one or two proof-of-concept pilot(s) for the series by the end of the project. Possible areas of focus might include: the environmental impact of war, water use, human health and the environment, environmental justice, and changing politics around land ownership, stewardship, and conservation. Working closely with NHC staff and its leadership, undergraduate and graduate members of this Story+ team will be involved in all aspects of the project, from story conception to the production and distribution of the pilot episode(s). They will have access to a rich archive of NHC source materials and will be encouraged to source additional audio from local, national, and international voices to frame compelling podcast stories for the general public. Stories might focus on the global or the very local to explore how scientific and humanistic understandings of climate change can intersect to take on the challenge of addressing environmental challenges beyond simple narratives of inaction and despair.

Outcome: The students created a pilot episode of an upcoming and ongoing series of Environmental Humanities podcasts in conjunction with the National Humanities Center's Beyond Despair project.

Project Sponsor: Tania Munz, Vice President, Scholarly Programs, National Humanities Center
Graduate Mentor: Kathleen Burns, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Margot Armbruster, Sara Heilman, Anna He

Consuming Women, Liberating Women: Women and Advertising in the Mid 20th Century

Overview: This project seeks to document the turbulent relationship between women, feminism, and the advertising industry. We envision a web-based tool that draws together a guide to collections within the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, both in the Rubenstein Library, related to the scope of women’s experiences during the post-World War II consumer boom and the Women’s Movement of the 1960s and 1970s—women wage earners and professionals, consumers, homemakers, and activists. This tool will work to support future researchers—students and scholars—interested in exploring these themes and our work with courses offered at Duke. This website could include images and highlights of significant items and collections held in the Rubenstein Library, a timeline, oral history interviews, blog posts, and/or advertisements students create based on their research in the collections.

Outcome: The team created the Consuming Women, Liberating Women: Women and Advertising in the Mid 20th Century website. You can see mention of this project in this Duke Chronicle article: Story+ program uses archival research to rethink storytelling.

Project Sponsor(s): Joshua Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture and Curator of Gender and Sexuality History Collections, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Graduate Mentor(s): Meggan Cashwell, PhD
Undergraduates: Sonia FIllipow, Sandra Luksic, Julia Nasco

Photographic Life of Harriet: Tubman’s Life in Pictures

Overview: For Harriet Tubman’s 1868 carte-de-visit she sits in a full gingham-patterned skirt with her textured coifs parted down the middle. Tubman’s image appears in the album of Emily Howland, a white abolitionist and teacher, whose photograph collection included respectable-looking African American teachers, veterans and politicians. The photograph taken by Benjamin Powelson, in his Auburn, New York studio, features Tubman as we have never seen her—as a muse and not just a military genius. This Story+ project explores the visual life of Harriet Tubman in diverse illustrations of the abolitionist. Students working on this project will organize the visual archive of Tubman’s representation from photographs she took during her lifetime, but to also her image in public memory, including statues, memorials, museums, murals and fine art by canonic artists to include Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Alison Saar as well as Glenn Ligon.

Outcome: The team created the The Photographic Life of Harriet Tubman website to illustrate their work and research findings.

Project Sponsor: Jasmine Nichole Cobb, PhD, Bacca Foundation Associate Professor African & African American Studies and Art, Art History and Visual Studies
Graduate Mentor: Amanda Bennett, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Ye Ji (Annie) Han, Veronica Niamba, Daniella Welton

Pirating Texts: From Robinson Crusoe to CastAway, Tracking the Myth of Crusoe From Slave Trade Propaganda to Children’s Animation

Overview: Over 300 years ago, Daniel Defoe immortalized the survival story of Alexander Selkirk with the publication of The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe—transforming the real story of Selkirk into the fiction of Crusoe, Más a Tierra (Selkirk’s island) into Robinson Crusoe Island, and any story about being marooned in an inhospitable place into a Robinsonade. While you might not be familiar with the intimate details of Crusoe, you have read or seen its many adaptations like The Martian or Cast Away. Building upon last summer’s Data+ project, Pirating Texts, this Story+ team will tell the story of the publication of Crusoe, which has amassed over 13,000 different editions. Utilizing the database and visualizations, the team will utilize research skills and data analysis to untangle the web of editions that have spread throughout the world. The end result being a part physical and virtual exhibition at the UNC-CH Wilson Library and Duke University Rubenstein Library.

Outcome: The team created two physical exhibits, one at Duke and another at UNC-Chapel Hill, and a website, CrusoeAt300.com, to detail their work and research findings.
 
Project Sponsor: Charlotte Sussman, Professor, Department of English, Duke University
Graduate Mentor: Grant Glass, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Bailey Bogle, Clifford Haley, Eli Kline

Stained University: From Duke's Entanglement with the Tobacco Industry to a Smoke-Free Campus

Overview: In July 2020, Duke will join the national trend of university campuses becoming ‘smoke-free.’ Given Duke’s history of entanglement with the tobacco industry—from its foundations in tobacco profits to professors conducting research for the industry—imagining this ‘smoke-free’ future could motivate the Duke community to reckon with its ‘smoke-filled’ past. To take on this challenge, our Story+ team will research Duke’s ‘tobacco-stained’ history along two lines of inquiry. First, we will examine how the campus was a market for tobacco products. From the 1890s to 1970s, tobacco advertisements appeared in student-run newspapers, literary journals, and yearbooks. Students were bombarded with ads that portrayed images of modernist individuals enjoying the ‘pleasures’ and ‘satisfactions’ of smoking. Despite critiques of the harmful health effects of smoking from the 1950s and on, cigarette advertisers continued to claim health benefits from smoking. Second, our team will research how Duke faculty were entwined with the tobacco industry. For decades, Duke professors conducted research with and for the tobacco industry, from research on improving tobacco crops and cigarette production to studies that distracted attention from the dangers of smoking. In some cases, there was a ‘revolving door’ between Duke and the industry. For exploring these lines of inquiry, our team will engage in archival research on questions including: When and why have campus policies on tobacco use changed over time? How have faculty been tied with the tobacco industry? How have representations of tobacco in campus media changed over the years? How have these representations shaped different framings of the ‘modern individual’? Through interpreting the results of this research, we will also analyze how different narratives about tobacco were told from different perspectives (e.g., students with different views on smoking, campus workers, faculty, administrators, tobacco advertisers, etc), and whose perspectives were relatively amplified or silenced. On the basis of our research, we will begin to make a website and a public history exhibit, which could be displayed at Duke’s libraries or at The Duke Homestead & Tobacco Museum.

Outcome: The team created a website, Stained University: From Entanglement with the Tobacco Industry to a Smoke-free Campus, to detail their work and research findings.

Project Sponsor: Eli Meyerhoff, Program Coordinator, Social Movements Lab at Franklin Humanities Institute
Graduate Mentor: Jaime Acosta Gonzalez, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Erick Aguilar, Caroline Petronis, Zhengtao Qu

Teaching Duke History

Overview: From the removal of white supremacist Julian S. Carr’s name from an East Campus building to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1969 Allen Building Takeover, Duke’s complex history is at the center of campus dialogue. Teaching Duke History invites a Story+ team to develop a 12-week house course, based on original documents from the Duke University Archives, that will explore, enhance, and challenge our university’s historical narrative. The team will also create a publicly-available website sharing the course materials—and might also include podcasts or other recorded presentations of course topics—so that their important public history work reaches beyond the house course to engage and educate the whole of the Duke community. Team members will be invited, but in no way obligated, to teach the inaugural house course—using the syllabus and associated class materials, learning activities, and assignments they create—in Spring 2020, with support from the University Archives staff.

Outcome: The students created a syllabus and educational course website for their Teaching Duke History project.
 
Project Sponsor(s): Amy McDonald, Assistant University Archivist, Duke University Archives; Tracy Jackson, Head of Center Manuscript Processing and Technical Services Archivist, Duke University Archives; Kelley Lawton, Head, East Campus Libraries and Subject Librarian for United States History, Duke University Libraries; Hannah Rozear, Librarian for Instructional Services, Duke University Libraries
Graduate Mentor: Amanda Lazarus, PhD Candidate
Undergraduates: Bates Crawford, Frankie Pucci, Isadora Toledo

The Other Side of Hungry River: Mental Illness Mapped Through Songs

Overview: This project is an extended liner notes and online exhibition accompanying The Other Side Of Hungry River, a song cycle based on a closed mental asylum. The lyrical aspects of what is left behind at Dix Hill offer a vibrant entry point to the highly-charged questions the site begs—not only in song and visual but also in digital humanities. The Other Side of Hungry River Online Exhibition / Liner Notes brings each song to life by unfurling the specific song inspiration and the cultural moment where the song resides, creating a unique map of mental health history, science, and cultural representation.

An accompanying user-friendly timeline inventories the landmarks of mental health in art and scholarship to contextualize stigma and how it evolves. Mental health—a term that encapsulates human conditions ranging from loneliness to disabling disease—faces continued shaming, funding cuts, the absence of significant new medical breakthrough, and a crisis-level need for understanding.  This project uses the honesty and irreverence of art to find new insight into the history and culture surrounding the treatment of mental illness in the southern United States. How does trauma scar a place, an individual, a community? Who can diagnose disconnection from reality in the modern world? What does a sane society look like?

Students will create an online visual counterpart to The Other Side of Hungry River exploring the historical background, architectural drawings, intake records, oral histories, photographs and relics behind these songs. Students will also assist Guggenheim Fellow photographer Deborah Luster and Grammy nominated musician Tift Merritt as they collaborate on this work.

Outcome: The team created a physical exhibit and a website (forthcoming) that act as physical and digital 'liner notes' for an upcoming album of songs from award-winning singer-songwriter-researcher Tift Merritt.

Project Sponsor(s): Hannah Jacobs, Digital Humanities Specialist, Wired! Lab (Art, Art History & Visual Studies); Tift Merritt, Writer, Musician

Graduate Mentor(s): Quran Karriem, PhD Candidate

Undergraduates: William Atkinson, Emily Otero, Elizabeth Roy


“After 33 y'rs of hackling at it”: The Echoes of Walt Whitman’s Entrepreneurial Publishing in Digital Content Creation

Overview: ​While most authors leave their texts largely untouched after publication, Walt Whitman ​continuously iterates on Leaves of Grass -- his most famous publication -- throughout the majority of his adult life. Upon completion of the ninth and final edition, the so-called "deathbed edition," Whitman wrote to a friend: "L. of G. at last complete — after 33 y'rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old."

​Although continuously releasing new versions of a product may be unusual in a literary context, it's not unusual in a business context. For example, technology companies regularly launch updated versions of their products. Movie studies remake films. Even food and beverage companies release and re-release specialty meals and drinks. All of them do so in order to maintain relevance for their products within evolving markets while trying to expand market-share.

Why shouldn’t authors do the same with their publications?

In Whitman's case, that’s precisely what he did. In the process, he left behind hundreds of pages of heavily annotated manuscripts that this Story+ project wants to examine in order to uncover possible reasons why.

Through archival research, this Story+ project will explore Whitman's primary source materials. It hopes to discover ways the poet approached the 19th century publishing environment that, 150 years later, are echoed by the likes of entrepreneurial vloggers positioning themselves within thematic niches on YouTube, Instagram influencers building communities around their passions, and other similar entrepreneurial content producers.

This bridge between print-based publishing and digital publishing will allow this Story+ project to consider ways Whitman – like any successful entrepreneur – may have been focused on serving the needs of a market in order to capture an audience and sell the various iterations of his product. In doing so, the project will begin to wonder which -- if any -- of today's digital content producers might become the Whitmans of the future.

Outcome: The team created a physical exhibit, "Stories We Sell: Crafting Public Persona from Walt Whitman to Billie Eilish," that will 'travel' to two Duke sites before settling permanently at the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bullpen.

Project Sponsor(s): Dr. Aaron Dinin, Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Graduate Mentor(s): Meredith Graham, PhD Candidate, Music
Undergraduates: Merrit Jones, Tristan Kelleher, Andrew Witte