Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NCPH and Great Lakes THATCamp

After traveling to Portland, OR, to attend NCPH and be a commentator on Jeremy Boggs and Amdanda French's session on digital history curricula, I am looking forward to attending Great Lakes THATCamp right here in East Lansing! I am planning to present a session on meaningful collaboration among public history (and digital humanities) entities and K-12 educators based on research I conducted last year while finishing my masters at NYU. Check out my session proposal here!

I am particularly interested in hearing from developers of digital humanities programs (since that's what THATCamp is all about) as to their professed education goals. Are they interested in promoting historical thinking skills? Critical thinking sills more broadly? Presenting content for shared cultural heritage? We all talk a lot about education (although "engagement" through social media has become almost as ubiquitous in digital history circles recently), but what kind of education are we providing? Do we provide the kinds of educational resources that teachers want? Should teachers want the kinds of educational resources we provide?

As I learned through my interviews with museum educators, archivists and creators of digital history projects, we imagine multiple audiences for our content, but when we are forced to justify our existence to legislators and funders, it's all education all the time.

Beginning with a dine-around I'm organizing in Portland at the NCPH conference on a similar topic, I hope to have a great couple of weeks debating education policy, goals and resources with public historians and digial humanists in March!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Writers and Real Estate

Oberlin professor, Anne Trubek offers this interesting perspective on the dismal prospect of turning writers' former homes into tourist destinations. Even as a great lover of literature and of museums, I'll admit that the only writer's home museums I've been to that felt worth writing home about are the James Joyce house in Dublin and the L. M. Montgomery home on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Dublin has so thoroughly embraced Joyce as its most iconic voice, that this makes a lot of sense. The same is true (perhaps even to excess!) of PEI.

The famous person's home as museum works best when that person inhabited the place thoroughly and for a significant period of time. Although a home can be turned into a resonant artifact with proper attention to interpretation, it ultimately needs to be worthy of such a transformation to warrant it.