Story+ Projects Demonstrate Vitality of Humanistic Research and Thinking

July 6, 2018

Story+ Symposium

On June 27, Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute hosted an overflowing crowd of faculty, staff, students and community members for the Story+ Summer Research Symposium. Nine teams presented their outcomes and shared personal experiences from the past six weeks spent digging into archives, discovering untold stories, developing curricula, designing graphic memoirs and interviewing coal miners in Appalachia.

Led by graduate student mentors, undergraduates worked in small teams to tackle qualitative, humanities-based research on topics suggested by project sponsors.

Story+ is offered through the Franklin Humanities Institute and Bass Connections, in partnership with Duke Libraries and Versatile Humanists at Duke.

Edward Balleisen, Duke’s vice provost for interdisciplinary studies, gave closing remarks. “I think we do best at Duke when we find a way to facilitate the capacity of students, faculty and staff to pursue questions to which we don’t already have the answers,” he said. “This symposium is a stunning example of that Duke in action.”

Links to final projects and a video of the symposium will be added soon.

Student Action with Farmworkers Audio Documentaries

  • Project Sponsor: Joanna Welborn, SAF
  • Graduate Mentor: Eladio Bobadilla, History
  • Undergraduate Students: Ethan Ahuna, Mary McCall Leland, Kezia Matson

Student Action with Farmworkers Audio Documentaries team

What kind of story do we want to tell? We started by going through the archives, then we went into field to get a better perspective. Next we interviewed SAF employees. —Mary McCall Leland

Coal & America: Stories from the Central Appalachian Coalfields

  • Project Sponsor: Jonathon Free, Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Graduate Mentor: Alex Yoshizumi, Environmental Management
  • Undergraduate Students: Nicole Lindbergh, Morgan Ruff, Mary Helen Wood

Coal and America team

Some people would say, ‘You’re giving them a voice,’ but you’re not. They’re welcoming you into their home and they’re teaching you. —Nicole Lindbergh

Remapping the Caribbean: Archives of Haitian & Cuban Migration, Detention & Legal Activism

  • Project Sponsor: Laurent Dubois, Romance Studies and History 
  • Graduate Mentor: Ayanna Legros, History
  • Undergraduate Students: Aasha Henderson, Sanha Lim, Alyssa Perez

Remapping the Caribbean team

This project was life-changing. It really shifted how I see the world. I came in premed, thinking maybe I’ll look at this [project] with a health perspective, but I was more captivated by policy because what the U.S. passed very much affected people’s lives. I’m thinking about a major shift to International Comparative Studies. I’ve always had a strictly American perspective; I have to remember that the U.S. is one country among many. —Aasha Henderson

Stone by Stone: Who Built the Duke Chapel?

Project Sponsor: Valerie Gillispie, Duke Libraries, University Archives

Graduate Mentor: Hannah Ontiveros, History

Undergraduate Students: Jacob Satisky, Caroline Waring, Gretchen Wright

Stone by Stone team

Shorty Cohn did stonecutting work all across the South, and he came to Durham to work on Duke Chapel. He stayed in his mill house after the chapel was done, but he contracted TB. They removed half his ribs, and he kept working. —Jacob Satisky

The Allen Building Takeover @ 50 Exhibit

  • Project Sponsors: Valerie Gillispie, Meg Brown, Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Yoon Kim, Amy McDonald, Hannah Rozear, Duke Libraries
  • Graduate Mentor: Ellen Song, English
  • Undergraduate Students: Alexandra Kadis, Alan Ko, Zara Porter

Allen Building team

The archives had lots of material from the administration perspective and not much on students’ perspective. It took more research, but we did find stories from white and black students. We felt that the administration had told their story already; we want to tell the students’ stories. —Zara Porter

Preaching and Protest: Sermons from Duke Chapel during the Civil Rights Era

  • Project Sponsor: Rev. Luke A. Powery, Duke Chapel, Divinity School
  • Graduate Mentor: Peace Lee, Theology
  • Undergraduate Students: Sonja Andrews, Liddy Grantland, Naomi Lilly, Brennen Neeley

Preaching and Protest team

Medgar Evers was killed four days before Fathers’ Day; there was no mention in the Chapel sermon that Sunday. A week after the 16th Street Church bombing, the sermon was on Jonah and the whale. —Liddy Grantland

Left of Black Story+ Project

  • Project Sponsors: Mark Anthony Neal, African and African American Studies; Camille Jackson, Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity; Catherine Angst, John Hope Franklin Center
  • Graduate Mentors: Nicole Higgins, English; Allison Raven, History
  • Undergraduate Students: Malcolm Brown, Ce’Ondra Ellison

Left of Black team

This was my first experience working with a team, seeing how ideas unfold and [building] skills in digital editing and lesson plans. —Ce’Ondra Ellison

An Illustrated Memoir of the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic: The Maria de Bruyn Papers Speak

  • Project Sponsors: Kearsley Stewart, Global Health and Cultural Anthropology; Rachel Ingold, Duke Libraries; Maria de Bruyn, Independent Scholar
  • Graduate Mentor: Max Symuleski, Computational Media Arts and Cultures
  • Undergraduate Students: Brock Foreman, Ashley Manigo, Christina Shin

An Illustrated Memoir of the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic team

We all read through the material and came up with different angles and very different graphic styles, which shows the breadth and depth of this archive. —Christina Shin

Women in Labor Movements

  • Project Sponsors: Laura Micham, Kelly Wooten, Duke Libraries
  • Graduate Mentor: Claire Payton, History
  • Undergraduate Students: Sadia Ayez, Gia Cummings, Elaine Zhong

Women in Labor Movements team

We learned and practiced a lot of humanities research methods, and we interacted with the materials in a very active way. My exhibit is about prostitution and labor organizing, and I was excited to encounter a lot of materials representing the voices of people themselves. I found very different opinions and perspectives. Sex workers are still fighting against a lot of injustices. Activism and policy require the humanities to understand how they operate. —Elaine Zhong

Appalachian Stories: Young Voices from Madison County, North Carolina

  • Project Sponsor: Deborah Hicks-Rogoff, Social Science Research Institute, PAGE Institute
  • Graduate Mentor: Summer Dunsmore, Experimental and Documentary Arts
  • Undergraduate Students: Cameron Beach, Samia Noor, Nina Wilder

This off-site project will share findings at a later date.

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Photos by Dean Rhoades (except Allen Building team, which is from Story+ Instagram)