Schedule – Thurs., Oct. 18

Thursday, October 18

The schedule is in Eastern Time — if you’re in another time zone, make sure to convert the time!
Click on a presenters name to see a session description and presenter biography 

Time (Eastern Time) Presenter Twitter handle Title
11:15 am – 12:15 pm
LaTanya Autry @artstuffmatters Beyond Conversations: Transforming Museums through Social Justice Action
12:15 pm – 12:30 pm BREAK
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm Aja Bain @PointA__PointB To Do As They Did: History as Active Interpretation
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Sam Opsahl @Sam_Opsahl Circle City Strife: Gay and Lesbian Activism in Indianapolis during the Hudnut Era
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Kimberly Voss @kimvoss Say Her Name: Writing Women Back Into Public Journalism History
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm Ashley Bouknight @NicNat_artifakz Unplug the “Microwave:” Using Dynamic Planning for more Inclusive Site Narratives
2:30 pm – 3:00 pm BREAK
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Jerome de Groot & Matthew Stallard @doublehelixhist, @deggy21 Double Helix History
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm Krista McCracken @kristamccracken Archives as Activism: Community Narrative Building at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm Eric Hung @MusAsianAmerica Using Music to Do Public History: The Music of Asian America Research Center Playlist and Podcast
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm James McGrath @JimMc_Grath “This Is Fine”: Reading, Making, and Archiving Memes After November 2016
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm BREAK
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Nan Kim @nan_kim Keeping It Real: Transformative Political Dissent, Transnational Public History, and Progressive Activism for Peace in Korea
6:30 pm – 7:00 pm Jessica Knapp @jessmknapp (re)learning treaties
7:00 pm – 7:30 pm Stevenson Majors @StevensonPHist Adventures in Public History—Free Range Learning

Thursday, October 18 Session Descriptions and Bios

Keynote 1 — Beyond Conversations: Transforming Museums through Social Justice Action

LaTanya Autry, @artstuffmatters

LaTanya S. Autry, co-creator of #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, will apply an action-oriented social justice lens to the museum sphere to envision and strategize for deep structural change. In discussing individual and institutional level practices for centering social justice, she’ll identify challenges and solutions. Autry will also highlight various equity-centered cultural work in and out of museums in the US and abroad.

As a cultural organizer in the visual arts, LaTanya S. Autry centers social justice and public memory in her work. In addition to co-creating The Art of Black Dissent, an interactive program that promotes public dialogue about the African-American liberation struggle, she co-produced #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, an online campaign that exposes the fallacies of the neutrality claim and calls for an equity-based transformation of museums, and the Social Justice and Museums Resource List, a crowd-sourced bibliography. LaTanya has curated exhibitions and organized programs at Yale University Art Gallery, Artspace New Haven, Mississippi Museum of Art, Tougaloo College, and the Crane Art Center. Through her graduate studies at the University of Delaware, where she is completing her PhD in art history, she has developed expertise in art of the United States, photography, and museums. Her dissertation The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America concentrates on the interplay of race, representation, memory, and public space.

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To Do As They Did: History as Active Interpretation

Aja Bain, American Association for State and Local History, @PointA__PointB

In seeking to understand the past through places, objects, and intangible heritage rather than documents exclusively, public history offers a democratizing and more diverse exploration of the past. But what about understanding the past through action? Living history, reenactment, and heritage skills connect both “doers” and “viewers” with the past through physicality and common experience and can be transformative and transportive for both parties.

An old adage says “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” How does this translate to public history? What can we learn about historical figures, attitudes, and times by, say, plowing a furrow in their field? Weaving an inch on their loom? Cooking a meal on their fire? How does the nature of historic work, dress, foodways, and technology convey the essence of the past? If the past is a foreign country, can we become more fluent in it by adopting its ways and language, even if just for an afternoon program?

Outside the field, recent trends herald the return of heirloom gardening, natural medicine, and heritage skills that convey artisanal prestige. Can public historians harness the power of this movement to educate a public who is looking to the past for better living in the present?

Aja Bain is the Program and Publications Manager for the American Association for State and Local History, where she serves as Associate Editor of History News and blog editor. She holds a Master’s in public history from Middle Tennessee State University and a BA in American history and anthropology from Vanderbilt University. Currently president of the Inter-Museum Council of Nashville, her research interests include Southern migration and the commodification of regional culture in globalized societies.

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Circle City Strife: Gay and Lesbian Activism in Indianapolis during the Hudnut Era

— Sam Opsahl, IUPUI and NCPH, @Sam_Opsahl

This session will explore the Gay Knights protests in Indianapolis during the 1980s and how public historians can engage the public in this similar stories. We know the stories of Stonewall and San Francisco. But what about gay and lesbian activism in the Midwest? What stories does Indianapolis have to tell, and how do they relate to the national narrative? The presentation will shine a light on the early 1980s and look specifically at police discrimination of gay men that took place on Monument Circle followed by the resulting Gay Knight protests. Opsahl will explore the local factors that make this Indianapolis story inherently different from the national movement’s narrative. Collections from the Indiana Historical Society, University of Indianapolis, and the Indiana State Library illuminate both sides of the social conflict to understand what made this moment in Indianapolis unique.

Sam Opsahl is a second-year graduate student in the public history program at IUPUI. He graduated from Purdue University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in history and is currently interning at the National Council on Public History executive office in Indianapolis.

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Say Her Name: Writing Women Back Into Public Journalism History

— Kimberly Voss, University of Central Florida, @kimvoss

This project writes significant women in journalism back into history by using public methods, including Halls of Fame inductions, new Wikipedia posts, and blogging. It follows in the spirit of the 2018 New York Times project “Overlooked” which aims to add new obituaries of women who have been forgotten — going back to the 1850s. This public recognition is important to show how women have been overlooked and adds to the historical record. The presentation  will offer examples and encouragement for more historians to take on projects of their own.

Kimberly Voss is a tenured associate professor of journalism and interim program coordinator of journalism at the University of Central Florida. Voss is the author of the books: The Food Section: Newspaper Women and the Culinary Community (2014), Politicking Politely: Well-Behaved Women Making a Difference in the 1960s and 1970s (2017) and a co-author of Mad Men & Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance and Otherness (Peter Lang, 2014/2016). Voss’s fall 2018 book is Re-Evaluating Women’s Page Journalism in the Post-World War II Era: Celebrating Soft News.

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Unplug the “Microwave:” Using Dynamic Planning for more Inclusive Site Narratives

— Ashley Bouknight, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, @NicNat_artifakz

Within cultural institutions, planning interpretive content takes a great deal of time and energy. This process stretches across departments and may utilize a sizable portion of an organization’s resources. To ease this burden, sites look for ways to reduce the costs of interpretive planning. Unfortunately, many of these methods are “quick fixes,” and are largely the reason why many essential voices within the historical narratives are missing. Dr. Bouknight will share the importance of elevating the voices of the “Invisibles” and establishing multifaceted interpretive planning processes.

Dr. Bouknight currently serves as the Curator at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. Prior to her work in Nashville, she served as a community educator and museum consultant for various museums, historic sites, and neighborhood history projects in the southeast. She received a Masters of Arts in public history and a certificate in museum management from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts in historic preservation and community planning from the College of Charleston. She received a Ph.D. in public history from Middle Tennessee State University. Her research focuses on collections management theory, intersectionality and inclusivity in museums, and community outreach.

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Double Helix History

— Jerome de Groot and Matthew Stallard, University of Manchester, @doublehelixhist, @deggy21

This set of discursive tweets (organized as a dialogue between two Twitter accounts) will consider genetic science as a form of public history and how this impacts the ways in which we might think about some key issues; including memory, evidence, authenticity, and ethnicity.

Increasingly DNA investigation is influencing ‘historical’ work and approaches. The way we know the human in time is changing considerably. Presenters will look at two particular instances when genetic breakthroughs had considerable public impact (intentionally)—Cheddar Man and Richard III—to consider how such public genetic history seeks to make political interventions into discussions around migration, national identity, and ethnicity.

Jerome de Groot has written about public history in his books Consuming History (2016) and Remaking History (2015). His current project looks at how DNA and genetic science more broadly changes historical understanding and engagement with the past.

Matt Stallard is a historian of race, class, and identity in the UK and USA who has written for The Guardian and History Today among other publications. He has also worked extensively in public history, including in his current role on DNA and historical understanding.

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Archives as Activism: Community Narrative Building at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre

— Krista McCracken, @kristamccracken

Mainstream archives have actively marginalized Indigenous histories and have played a role in controlling how Indigenous history has been taught, presented, and preserved. However, community archives have the potential to be unique spaces of community power, activism, and change. This presentation will examine the role of community archives in activism by showcasing the work of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC), a grassroots community archive founded by Residential School Survivors. Established in the late 1970s as the Shingwauk Project, the SRSC was one of the first archives in Canada to be dedicated to preserving Indigenous perspectives on Residential Schools, community healing, and inter-generational trauma. This presentation highlights how archives can change lives, shape communities, and create new ways of knowing the past.

Krista McCracken (They/Them) is a public history professional and archivist. They work as an Archives Supervisor at Algoma University’s Arthur A. Wishart Library and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, in Baawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Métis people. Krista’s research interests include community archives, residential schools, access, and outreach.   

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Using Music to Do Public History: The Music of Asian America Research Center Playlist and Podcast

— Eric Hung, Music of Asian America Research Center, @MusAsianAmerica

Music and sound can greatly influence the experience of visitors to museums, historic sites, and even virtual spaces. For someone who is just walking into an exhibit, a short snippet of a song can set the mood and help provide the appropriate historical and social contexts. Yet sound and music are often afterthoughts in exhibit design and remain under-theorized in public history.

This session has two key goals: (1) to spark discussion and research on the roles that music and sound can play in public history, and (2) to get public history practitioners who have worked on music and sound to converse with each other. The long-term goal is to (re)activate music and sound as central components of exhibit design.

Eric Hung is an ethnomusicologist, public historian and pianist who focuses on Asian American history and music. Currently Executive Director of the new Music of Asian America Research Center and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Maryland, he was a tenure track/tenured professor at Westminster Choir College (2004-18) and the University of Montana (2002-04).  He is a Board Member of the College Music Society, and has served as Executive Director and Interim President of Arts Indonesia. He holds a PhD in musicology from Stanford University (2003) and a MLIS in archives and digital curation from the University of Maryland (2018).

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“This Is Fine”: Reading, Making, and Archiving Memes After November 2016

— Jim McGrath, Brown University, @JimMc_Grath

A cartoon dog sits with a cup of coffee in a room that is engulfed in flames. “This is fine,” he says to no one in particular. These images, which originally appeared in K.C. Green’s webcomic Gunshow in 2013, have become a kind of shorthand for the mood in America after the 2016 election, an example of the ways that memes are increasingly relied upon by social media users to document their experiences in uncertain times. Social media encourages and profits from our impulses to document our present moods with image macros, reaction GIFs, screenshots, and other multimodal forms of expression. Memes have been remediated as protest signs at various marches, and it is increasingly common to see memes in political campaigns and in the Tweets of sitting senators. In July 2017, President Trump infamously circulated a meme in which he attacks a professional wrestler whose head has been digitally replaced by the CNN logo, an act of online speech that was interpreted by many as an endorsement of violent reprisals against journalists.

Memes, in other words, are an undeniable part of contemporary American culture. This presentation will consider the roles memes have played in defining and subverting American political discourse in The Age of Trump. More generally, it considers where, how, and why public historians might read, historicize, preserve, and make memes about the American experience.

Jim McGrath is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. He has written for American Quarterly, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and other publications. His research interests include internet culture, new media, digital archives, materiality and popular culture, and the history of reading.

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Keeping It Real: Transformative Political Dissent, Transnational Public History, and Progressive Activism for Peace in Korea

— Nan Kim, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of History, @nan_kim

A scandalous presidency, rife with tumult over revelations of corruption, cronyism, and far-reaching abuses of power. A crisis of democracy compounded by a constitutional crisis, so grave as to trigger a massive nationwide protest movement that would culminate in impeachment and ultimately the peaceful and orderly transfer of power. Whether or not such a scenario could play out in the US or elsewhere, this chain of events actually occurred in South Korea—defying nearly all expectations—during the course of what became known as the Candlelight Revolution of 2016-2017. Regarding that sustained wide-scale protest movement and related breakthrough events in contemporary Korea, this presentation weighs the limitations and strategies that informed the responses by one public historian who is also a longtime activist for peace in Korea. Given prevailing mainstream narratives that shape public memory in real time, how can transnational interpretive analyses make an effective intervention? How do public historians grapple with divergent meanings that frame such events as they are ongoing, including the challenge of pushing back against false or misleading representations that may circulate in conventional and social media? Moreover, in what ways can such work draw upon socially engaged perspectives and insights grounded in everyday life in order to make complex political developments more intelligible to wider audiences? Balancing the imperatives to argue persuasively against unfounded perceptions of both the historical past and the unfolding present, these questions speak to essential tasks for public historians when addressing ongoing contestation regarding grassroots protest movements and the contemporary political moment.

Nan Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of History at UW-Milwaukee, where she is the Director of Public History and Co-Coordinator of Asian Studies.  She is the author of Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea: Crossing the Divide, and her work has also appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and The Routledge Handbook on Memory and Reconciliation in East Asia. She was the keynote speaker for the Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea’s inaugural event at the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2018. A member of the editorial boards of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History and The Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, she also serves the steering committees of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea and the international peace organization Women Cross DMZ.

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(re)learning Treaties

— Jessica Knapp, @jessmknapp

Canadians have been asked to unlearn and relearn what they know about Indigenous history in Canada. This presentation explores how Canada’s National History Society has supported Canadians in their relearning of Treaties and the Treaty relationship.

Jessica Knapp (She/Her) is a Canadian public historian working as an independent consultant based in Montreal, Quebec. She specializes in digital outreach and engagement, relationship building and collaboration, and project coordination.

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Adventures in Public History – Free Range Learning

— Stevenson University Public History Program, @StevensonPHist

For too long, history has had a reputation for being the solitary and sedentary pursuit of irrelevant information. A pursuit not likely to lead to financial success upon graduation. In short, history is often perceived by many as being boring, slow, and tedious. We at Stevenson University’s Public History Program are trying to change those opinions. We know from our own experience that history can be an adventure. Over the past three years we have been developing an informal curriculum that is frequently active, often adventurous, and always audacious. We pursue public history in and out of museums, archives, national parks, state historic sites, and historic trails. Whether our adventures involve seeing the Gettysburg battlefield from horseback, hydro power sources by canoe, or learning how to navigate white water by raft, we inject extraordinary experiences into our learning. That being said, we can just as frequently be found seeking adventures in museums and archives where we challenge the limits of what people think undergrads can achieve. The audacious belief that college undergrads can say something new—and significant—about history after transcribing 1300 documents from the War of 1812 is at the heart of the kinds of service learning activities we pursue. We challenge ourselves to test not only what we believe are our limits, but limits others have set for us as well. Whether outdoors, indoors, or places in between, we attempt to bring adventure to our learning. This presentation argues for adventure in public history.

We are public history majors and faculty at Stevenson University near Baltimore, Maryland. We offer a four year undergraduate degree in public history—one of the few in North America. Our program focuses on US history in general, and the history of the Chesapeake region in particular. While classroom experiences are still the foundation of learning, we build on that foundation a structure of knowledge gained from experience in the field. Most importantly, we approach public history as adventure. We host the History’s Happening page on Facebook, and engage in the excitement of canoeing, hiking, climbing, white water rafting, and four wheel driving into history. Horseback riding, helicopters, and subways work just as well. Get out, enjoy life, and engage in history!

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