Story+ Project

An Illustrated Memoir of the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic: The Maria de Bruyn Papers Speak


For the Story+ summer 2018 project, An Illustrated Memoir of the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic:  Archives Speak, students will produce a modified graphic novel that tells a sweeping story of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, based on materials from the Maria de Bruyn archive in the Rubenstein Library.  We envision a project that tackles a very broad question, such as: how has the treatment of women living with HIV changed over the past three decades? how have women confronted their risk of HIV transmission in different parts of the world?  That broad question is then addressed in chapters that each ask a more focused question, for example: how have commercial sex work policies evolved over the past 30 years?  how has the visual representation of women in HIV and AIDS prevention posters changed over time?  what are the different types of HIV and AIDS training materials developed for low-literacy settings?  For each chapter, students select 8-10 items from the archives (for example, NGO brochures, conference proceedings, fieldwork notes, ephemera such as condoms, key chains and posters) to tell the story behind the question.  Depending on the graphic skills of team members, the visual component of the modified graphic novel could range from a simple scan of the item to an elaborate, stylized hand-drawn representation of the item.  Students also conduct supporting research, such as literature reviews and perhaps even interviews, to assemble the text that accompanies each of the 8-10 items in a chapter.  Over six weeks, each student completes two-three fully researched chapters that each answer a research question told through the stories of 8-10 curated items from the archive.  Students keep a journal of their developing awareness of the contents of the archive and track their emerging research questions.  By the end of this project, students will develop a more complex understanding of the history of the global HIV and AIDS pandemic, develop archival research skills and strengthen their writing skills, and gain an appreciation of the emerging value of humanities research for the field of global health.

Required and/or preferred skills:

  • Required: Strong written and oral communication skills; excellent time management and organizational skills; strong ability to work both independently and with a team; good proficiency with productivity software such as Microsoft Office; some familiarity with other productivity software (Zotero, DukeBox, Google Docs, etc.); some experience conducting academic literature reviews using journal databases such as PubMed.
  • Preferred: Familiarity with desktop publishing software (Adobe, Canva, Issuu, etc.) or online exhibit software (Omeka); experience building websites; experience with traditional and/or digital visual art production; knowledge of graphic novels; knowledge of HIV and AIDS.
OPTIONAL supplementary application materials (updated 2/2/18):
  • Writing Sample (academic prose, poetry, graphic novel)
  • Art work (hand-drawn traditional illustration, digital illustration, video)
Project Sponsor(s): 

Kearsley Stewart, Professor of the Practice, Global Health and Cultural Anthropology, Duke University 

Rachel Ingold, Curator, History of Medicine Collections, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscripts Library, Perkins Library, Duke University

Maria de Bruyn, Independent Scholar, Chapel Hill, NC; donor of the Maria de Bruyn Papers at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Duke Global Health One student's rough draft of her Humument project using a page from Maria de Bruyn's archival collection.


  • Visual Media
  • Archives
  • Human Rights
  • Global Health