Public Projects

HandsOnFlyer_final2_jpg#HandsOn: Skill and Creativity in Southwest Virginia, Squires Student Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, March 9-20 2017

This exhibit, launched at the 2017 annual meeeting of the Appalachian Studies Association, showcases the work of nine local artisans and nine Virginia Tech masters students in Material Culture and Public Humanities. During their mini-apprenticeships, students learned and documented a range of skills, from beekeeping to brewing. They concluded that, like hashtag discourse more generally, handcraft is relevant and dynamic, adept at communicating complex meanings in changing contexts. Exhibit themes explored how skilled aesthetic behaviors grow out of practice and precedent (#FollowMyLead), foster diverse relationships (#ManyHands), and allow for varied combinations of creativity and precision (#DoesntJustHappen). Project mentors spoke to ASA conference attendees during a reception held on March 11.

Shared Tables: A Triangle Symposium on Local and Global Food Studies, February 28-29, 2012. Jointly hosted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, this symposium invited interdisciplinary researchers and service providers to explore food and sustainability from a global perspective. I was charged with planning a student research poster session on Feb. 28; the event brought together students, faculty, and community leaders; showcased student research and community initiatives; and helped students learn presentation skills valuable for regional and national conferences. To encourage participation from those unfamiliar with conference-quality research posters, I developed guidelines for poster design and presentation. As session organizer I also crafted the call for proposals, set up an online proposal submission system, designed publicity materials, evaluated proposals, and led students through a poster-creation workshop. Slides for the workshop are available here.

Teagle Foundation grant: Big Questions and the Disciplines, 2009-2011. Working with American Folklore Society colleagues, I helped develop curriculum materials and conference roundtable sessions that aimed to improve the quality of undergraduate education in Folklore Studies. Our work specifically addressed a key disciplinary contribution: getting students to think more carefully about the concepts of “lay” and “expert” knowledge, and also about how those kinds/valuations of knowledge are employed in social life. Documents generated during the grant period are archived in the Ohio State University Knowledge Bank. Access them here.

Civil Rights History Project (CRHP), May-December 2010. I joined researchers Elizabeth Gritter, Will Griffin, and Andrew Salinas in a Congressionally mandated effort to facilitate access to Civil Rights oral histories. Our task was to locate recordings that document personal involvement in black freedom struggles across the United States between 1940 and 1980. A joint effort of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the American Folklore Society,  the CRHP generated a database with 1528 collections searchable by repository, collection, state, and subject, offering researchers extensive information about Civil Rights interviews and related resources in nearly every state of the Union.

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