AMCV2650 Introduction to Public Humanities Steven Lubar

Fall semester 2010

Class: Wednesday 3:00-5:20, Nightingale-Brown House Office Hours: Monday 2-4 This graduate seminar addresses the theoretical bases of the public humanities, providing a background that will help students understand the choices made in preserving, interpreting, and presenting art, history and culture. We will address those issues by reading and discussing case studies to see how theory plays out in practice. The way the course works: there’s a book, or several articles, to read each week. Twitter about it as you read it. One or two students will write something on the blog about the book - everyone should read and comment on it, and related topics. In each class, we’ll discuss the reading, and have a presentation or two, as outlined below. Here’s what is required for the class: Reading   Read assigned work Read, throughout the semester, newspapers, journals and websites that address issues related to the class, for example, the New York Times, Art in America,, Museum News, The Public Historian, CRM,,, or Browse the books in the JNBC library. Follow appropriate Twitter feeds. Participate in class discussion Occasionally post links and comments on the articles you find interesting on the class blog or Twitter Read the papers posted on the blog and comment on them there Each week, use Twitter to call our attention to a few interesting ideas from the reading, or from other sources. Follow the Twitter feeds from others in the class. Hashtag: #AMCV2650. These tweets are preserved at Present a not-to-exceed 10 minute illustrated talk – consider a pecha-kucha or a prezi ( or a Voicethread or some other interesting technique -- sometime during the semester. This can be a summary of your research paper, or on any other topic appropriate to the readings. This is graded both on content and style! Prepare an introduction and questions for readings for one class. For that class, write a short paper, 2-3 pages, to provide some theoretical or historiographical background to the book assigned that week, or on a related topic - a separate case study, perhaps. Meet with me to discuss this after you’ve read through the book, preferably on the Friday before class; I can recommend background reading for you. Post your paper on the class blog the Monday before class, and be prepared to discuss it in class. Write a research paper, due on December 15. This should be roughly 5000 words, on a topic of interest to you and appropriate to the class. It could be a case study of a public humanities project or institution, either historical or contemporary; a comparative study of several

Discussion (45 percent of grade)    

Presentation (10 percent of grade) 

Writing (45 percent of grade) 

projects or institutions; a theoretical exploration; or something else. I’m also open to formats other than straightforward research papers. In any case, it should draw on original research and should reference, in some way, the readings and discussions from the class. Consider modeling your paper on one of the books or essays we read during the semester. A 2-3 page proposal is due November 15. Note: Your paper should be your original work. Footnote anything you use from books, articles, interviews, or the web. Note ideas that came from other people. Failure to do so can result in failing the class. Class blog website: Note: this is open to outside readers. Books are available in the bookstore. Most chapters, articles, etc., are available on OCRA, available online through the library, or are in the JNBC library. All of the books are in the Rockefeller Reserve. Password on OCRA: public. Note that there are a great many related books and article on reserve in the library and on OCRA and in the JNBC library.

Readings Schedule Introduction
Week 1. (September 1)
Introductions, explanations, etc.: What is public humanities? Curating an exhibition: “What is Public Humanities? A History”

Week 2. (September 8)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Project: Considering Columbus Day at Brown.

Week 3. (September 15)
Stephanie E. Yuhl, A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston. Phyllis K. Leffler, “American Memory on the Abolition of the Slave Trade: Is There Common Ground in American Museums?” Museum History Journal, Volume 3, Number 1, January 2010, pp. 33–60. Online

Week 4. (September 22)
Cathy Stanton, The Lowell Experiment: Public History in a Postindustrial City Matthew Roth, “IA and the 20th Century City: Who Will Love the Alameda Corridor?” Industrial. Archeology 26:1 (2000): 71-84 OCRA

Week 5. (September 29)
Sarah Thornton, Seven Days in the Art World Lisa Corrin “Mining the Museum: Artists Look at Museums, Museums Look at Themselves” in Mining the Museum, 1992. OCRA

Week 6. (October 6)
Readings in the special issues of American Indian Quarterly on the National Museum of the American Indian (Volume 29, Number 3&4, Summer/Fall 2005, and Volume 30, Number 3&4, Summer/Fall 2006). Online through Brown University Library. Jacki Thompson Rand, “Why I Can't Visit the National Museum of the American Indian”

John J. Bodinger de Uriarte, “Imagining the Nation with House Odds: Representing American Indian Identity at Mashantucket,” Ethnohistory 50:13, Summer 2003. Pp. 549-565

Week 7. (October 13)
Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Whose Culture is it?” in the New York Review of Books, Vol. 53, No. 2, Feb. 9, 2006. OCRA Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “Objects of Ethnography.” Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Ed. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. 386-443. James Clifford “Museums as Contact Zones” in Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, 1997. Steven Conn, “Whose Objects? Whose Culture? The Contexts of Repatriations,” in Conn, Do Museums Still Need Objects, pp. 58-85.

Week 8. (October 20)
Sally Price, Paris Primitive: Jacques Chirac's Museum on the Quai Branly Susan Vogel, “Always True to the Object, in our fashion,” from Karp and Lavine, Exhibiting Culture OCRA Nélia Dias, “Double erasures: rewriting the past at the Musée du quai Branly, Social Anthropology Volume 16, Issue 3, pages 300–311, October 2008 New York Times articles at:

Week 9. (October 27)
Video: “The couple in the cage: Guatinaui odyssey / Video Data Bank presents ; a video by Coco Fusco and Paula Heredia ; directed & produced by Coco Fusco, Paula Heredia
Diana Taylor, "A Savage Performance: Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Coco Fusco's 'Couple in a Cage'," TDR 42.2 (1998): 160-175.

Anna Johnson, “Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña,” BOMB 42/Winter 1993, ART

Week 10. (November 3)
Susan G. Davis, Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience Stephen Greenblatt, “Resonance and Wonder,” in Karp and Lavine, Exhibiting Cultures

Week 11. (November 10)
Anna Hammond, et al, “The Role of the University Art Museum and Gallery” Art Journal, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Fall, 2006), pp. 20-39, University Museums and Collections Journal 2/2009

Week 12. (November 17)
John Durel and Anita Nowery Durel, “A Golden Age for Historic Properties,” History News, December 2008 OCRA Claire Bishop: ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents’, Artforum, February 2006, pp. 179-185

Week 13. (December 1)
Andrea Witcomb, Re-imagining the Museum: Beyond the Mausoleum

Week 14. (December 8)
Retrospectives and Conclusions

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