What motivates people to collect and display vernacular expressive culture? How do they do so? And what are the consequences?
Because language shapes how we experience, understand, and order reality, the ways that people have written about and represented 'culture' give us insights into the values, assumptions, and social identities of both the documented and the documenters.
Students in ENGL 2367.05H (The U.S. Folk Experience) have explored (auto)ethnographic materials archived at the Library of Congress, including field notes, photos, videos, and correspondence from the following collections:
- Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982
- Florida Folklife: from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Collections, 1937-1942
- Omaha Indian Music collection
- Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
- Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
In professional posters designed as museum exhibits, these students investigate social hierarchies evident in the collections and point to implicit relationships of power that fracture along lines of race, gender, age, region, class, professional credentials, and the like. Poster titles include:
- "Avoiding Bias: Learning from the Lomax Southern Mosaic Ethnographic Collection"
Liberty Brigner (Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife) & Melissa French (Anthropology)
- "Beautiful Roots: Zora Neale Hurston, Ethnography, and Redefining African American Culture as Art"
Sophie Shiloh (International Studies)
- "Preserving Paradise: Cowboys Revalue Everyday Life through Art"
Rachel Armstrong (History and International Studies) & Tyler Eldridge (Aeronautical Engineering)
- "Contesting Stereotypes: Pow wow Competition and the Display of Differential Identity"
Chris Kozlowski (Pre-veterinary) Mitch Richert (Neuroscience)
- "Commemorating a Cultural Landscape: The Cardboard Cemetery as Activist Art in Big Coal River Valley"
Sarah Beall (Marketing) & Claire Staveski (Health Sciences)
We invite you to view their work and discuss their findings on April 18. Light refreshments will be provided.
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