Humanistic Studies

UW-Green Bay

How do the Humanities Connect to a Non-Profit Organization: My Internship with the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin

By Dana La Verne

The humanities explore the human experience, and one way to do this is interning with a non-profit organization. This semester I have been completing my humanities degree by interning with Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin (CWAC). CWAC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for the region. Throughout this internship I have gained a positive experience in helping humans and the environment stay healthy.

Clean Water Action Council 2019 Farmers Market Booth

I have had many opportunities through this internship. I was able to talk to the local Green Bay community about CWAC at the Winter Farmers Market. The community is what allows us to be able to continue doing our work. I was also able to attend the Making the Connection Conference in Madison, WI which discussed environmental health in our society. I was able to listen to doctors and every day individuals discuss the work they do in society to help us live the healthiest lives possible.

Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin Spring 2019 Newsletter

With this internship I also learned about managing a non-profit organization. I am the manager of the weekly update. This is an update we email to our members and email list with events, actions, new legal permits, and important environmental news that is happening in Northeast Wisconsin and around the world. I am also in charge of social media. I post everything from the weekly update, and anything that I find useful that the public should know about. CWAC also has a quarterly newsletter that we publish. For the Spring 2019 Newsletter I published an article called “Electric Vehicles Making a Positive Impact Toward Global Warming”, which discussed that electric vehicles will be a healthy form of transportation for humans and for the environment.

The Clean Water Action Council also hosts many events such as health forums to help keep the public informed. This includes keeping up with research, and what the public is interested in learning. The health forum I helped promote was “The Environment and Health: Why what we eat, touch, and breathe matters.” One major project we are working on with a sister non-profit, Clean Wisconsin, is discussing the dangers of Coal Tar Sealants. In the tar sealants are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs. They are found in parking lots and driveways which pose a threat to anyone, but especially the sick, elderly, and our children who play on these surfaces. We have hosted three presentations in Brown, Oconto and Marinette Counties, sent emails and letters to schools, hospitals, and public officials in the counties, cities, villages, and towns, and advertised throughout the communities. Legislation has been passed in neighboring areas to help raise awareness, which we now want to do in Northeast Wisconsin.

“Interning for a non-profit organization allows you the ability to experience humanities from a different perspective.”

Dana La Verne

Another important aspect with working with a non-profit organization is learning how to fundraise, either through the organization or through grants. For instance, we received a grant for the Coal Tar Sealants. We sell merchandise such as bags, t-shirts, and sweatshirts, but our biggest fundraiser is our annual banquet. I had to contact local businesses for donations to our silent auction, advertise the event, sell tickets, and help with the planning process. Our banquet included a social, silent auction, dinner, program, and dance. This year the meal was slow roasted free-range chicken which was gluten-free or mushroom Marinara, which was vegan and also gluten-free. You also got a mixed green salad, roasted sweet potatoes, vegetables, and a dessert bar. Our food was locally sourced. If you didn’t find something you liked to eat, there was no hope. The program included speaker Paul Matheson from Clean Wisconsin discussing protecting our families from toxic pavement sealants, and the band was Terry Murphy and the Cherry Pickers. It was a fun time promoting CWAC and the work that we do, but it was also a lot of work. The greatest thing I enjoyed was seeing everything come together.

Speaker Paul Matheson discussing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in tar pavement sealants, and the harm it causes to the public health.
Photo Credit: Intern Lauren Felder
My boyfriend Devin and I all dressed up at the Clean Water Action Council Banquet. My family are my greatest supporters.
Photo Credit: Kayla Carolyn Photography

Interning for Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin gave me a well-rounded experience. I learned how to manage a non-profit through the wonderful guidance of President and Director Dean Hoegger, I organized events, managed the weekly newsletter and social media, wrote a published article, and I went out of my comfort zone with fundraising by calling businesses. I also gained important relationships with the other interns, Lauren Felder and Jace Hannemann, and interim manager Caitlin Cravillion. We helped each other when needed, supported each other on difficult days, and became wonderful friends. This internship helped me gain professional experience that I can use in my future careers and endeavors, and it helped me build long lasting relationships.

I hope this blog post makes you realize that humanities can be more than interning at museums or historical societies. It is also about learning about humanity today. I gained that experience by interning at CWAC. You can gain that experience by working at any non-profit you could imagine. It doesn’t even have to be a non-profit. You take out what you want from your participation in an internship.

“This internship and everything I learned along the way will stick with me for the rest of my life. “

Dana La Verne

I would like to end by saying thank you to the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, the humanities department, and especially Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin for giving me this opportunity and professional experience. I hope to take everything I learned and the portfolio I built throughout the semester to continue impacting humanity and society in a positive way.

What is DPH (Digital and Public Humanities) & Why is it Important?

Student Experience with Digital and Public Humanities: a relatively new emphasis offered at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

For my last blog post as the Humanities Department Intern, I wanted to craft a post that delved into my Digital and Public Humanities (DPH) major. The purpose of this interview is to present information about the DPH emphasis. The questions asked in this interview are from the perspective of students who are interested in the major, want to learn more about what it is, and wish to know how it may be beneficial to them.

 “Digital and Public…what?”

The Holiday Season is a wonderful time to spend with friends and family. Most of us, at this time in the semester, may be relieved and excited for the upcoming and well-deserved winter break. Many of us will retreat home to decompress from the long semester and enjoy our break traveling physically or through reading, working and spending time with loved ones. Of course, around this time of the year, the question arises, from the dear or rarely seen relative, “how is college and what are you studying?” I appreciate the look on my family and friends faces when I give them my detailed list of studies that I recite in one breath, “I am a double major in History and Digital and Public Humanities with a minor in Arts Management with an emphasis in Museums and Galleries.” Naturally, they respond with, “I got the first part of that but what is the second thing you said? Digital and Public…what? And what do you plan to do with those majors?”

The most effective way to illustrate my choice of majors is by giving examples of projects, research, and opportunities that I have encountered throughout my studies. This semester marked the beginning of my junior year here at UW-Green Bay, and I have a number of interesting and mind-expanding classes in history, the humanities, and the arts under my belt. This fall semester, I took my first Digital and Public Humanities course, “Hum Stud 200: Introduction to the Digital and Public Humanities,” otherwise known as the “Packers Class.” In this course, students were introduced to some of the basic skills foundational to the DPH major. A large part of the course was dedicated to learning HTML (Hypertext Markup Langauge),  which is the first step in understanding the language necessary for creating web pages and applications.

The Packers class was a combined class between the Intro Digital and Public Humanities students and the Craft of History (HIST 290) students. Brent Hensel, the curator of the Packer Hall of Fame, co-taught this class with Professors Heidi Sherman and John Shelton. The overarching project of the semester was a collaboration project with both history and DPH students to create an interactive WordPress site that explored the history of the early years of the Packers. This year, the Packers are celebrating 100 seasons, dating back to 1919. We explored and researched the early history of the Packers organization, and the students created very impressive digital projects. There was a variety of different subjects, ranging from the evolution of the forward pass, civil rights in relation to the Packers organization, how the Great Depression affected the Packers, amongst others.  At the end of the semester, our class had the exciting opportunity to present our projects and research at Lambeau Field. UWGB Packers Class

The Digital and Public Humanities students’ basic and fundamental knowledge of technology was put to practice in the creation of the WordPress sites. All of the skills we learned at the beginning of the semester were tested and practiced in the creation of my group’s website. The group that I was in completed our research project on Lyle Lahey’s Packer Cartoons. Our argument was that political and sports cartoons are portals to history. Lyle Lahey was a political and sports cartoon artist that published a variety of different cartoons from 1968 until his death in 2013. For our project, we analyzed and conceptualized a variety of different Lahey cartoons that focused on topics such as Coach Vince Lombardi and Dan Devine, as well as Labor Strikes in the NFL during the 1970s.

My favorite part of our project was creating the interactive pieces that were used on our website. For each Packer theme we discussed, I created a presentation using the software Canva that included the Lahey cartoons we were analyzing and researching. The purpose of these presentations was to show the viewer what key aspects of the cartoon that caught our attention and developed our research. Through our website, we presented Lahey’s cartoons in an interactive way enabling the viewer to take part in our analysis and history. With each page, the viewer is able to make their own conclusions about Lahey’s illustrations while being provided with the necessary historical context. I am immensely proud of what we all crafted, and I am glad that Lahey’s cartoons may be viewed with as much enthusiasm and appreciation as we had. Throughout this class, I not only learned digital basics, but I also gained digital competencies, which has enabled me to think critically about how to use digital platforms for communication, preservation, presentation, design, and analysis.

In conclusion, when my family and friends need clarification on what exactly is Digital and Public Humanities, I have issues giving them a concise definition. To me, the Digital and Public Humanities can embody many different definitions depending on who you ask. I would define Digital and Public Humanities as an interdisciplinary field that uses various forms of media to excite and engage the public audiences about culture, language, the world of history, and the humanities. Digital and Public Humanities students learn how to use different technological tools and methods in order to serve the public. It entails critical thinking, artistic design, and research while engaging with technology appropriately. This emerging field and new emphasis is interdisciplinary and integrates conversations on different platforms. The Digital and Public Humanities have the potential to tear down the long-established “ivory tower” of the Humanities and creates a public platform of relevance and accessibility for anyone.

What other students have to say about the major:

John Werner, a double major in History and Digital and Public Humanities: “Digital and Public Humanities, as a field, is both rapidly growing and highly flexible. It is a critical puzzle piece in moving the Humanities field as a whole into the 21st century as everything [becomes] more digitized, further promoting education by permitting interactivity in what students are learning.”

Brian Domina, a double major in History and Digital and Public Humanities: “Digital and Public Humanities helped me further develop myself as a person and clarify my points of view…enabling [me] to connect to points of view I did not know existed.”

Rachel Bowker (a major in Digital and Public Humanities): “Originally, I was just going to go to UW-Milwaukee to get my masters in Library Sciences because I already have a bachelors in Business Administration. However, I chose Digital and Public Humanities because it I felt like it would be a great stepping stone before going on to the master’s program. Within the first semester, I have learned how to do HTML coding, operate and design a website, and create a Wiki page. All of the projects that I have done I would have thought would only have been in a Graphic Design program. Looking forward, I am confident that the classes and projects that are within this program will help me further my education in Milwaukee and looks great on a resume! I am really happy that I enrolled in this program! All the staff within (and outside) the program is so helpful and knowledgeable!”

Thank you for reading,

Rachel Scray, Humanities Intern Fall 2018.

 

 

 

Podcasting in the Name of Frankenstein!

Phoenix Studios LIVE Event

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On October 17th, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay had their first ever Phoenix Studios LIVE event at the Fort Howard Hall. The event organized by the brilliant Phoenix Studios Producer Kate Farley was a fantastic showcase of the great podcasts that are produced here at UWGB. The hosts and masterminds of the night were Kate Farley and her Production Assistant and  intern from the Communications department, Ntxhee Yee Thao. Phoenix Studios LIVE was a night of exciting and fascinating conversations focused on engaging topics that related to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and horror.

 ALL THE RAGE: “Mob Creation”

IMG_8248The night started with a discussion on “Mob Creation” with hosts of ALL THE RAGE, Dr. Ryan Martin of the Psychology Department and Dr. Chuck Rybak of English and Humanities who is Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. During this podcast, the two discussed what qualities define a “mob”, and how that compares to our common conception of what a mob is (you know, grab your torch and pitchforks, etc.). They cited real-life examples from day to day occurrences and joked about how they themselves could be defined as a two-person mob.  

INDENTED: “Let’s Not Forget Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley”

IMG_8503Second on the night’s roster was the podcast, Indented. Hosted by Krynn Hanold, the English Creatives Intern, Dr. Rebecca Nesvet of the English, Humanities, and Woman & Gender Studies, and Dr. Jessica Van Slooten of the English department and Women’s Gender Studies Program Co-chair from the UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus. During their segment, they discussed the daring and impressive life of Mary Shelley, a woman well ahead of her time.

During the podcast, Dr. Nesvet illustrated an impressive skill that Wollstonecraft Shelley had learned from her father: reading two books at one time. This task was believed to be the best way to compare two books. Dr. Nesvet also passionately discussed how well educated MWS was during a time where women normally didn’t receive an extensive literary education.

IMG_8317As a woman who was ahead of her time, MWS discussed topics of gender roles in a subtle and profound way through her work. Dr. Van Slooten discussed how MWS used gender to defy the values of the 19th century and the expectations of men and women in society. Drawing from Dr. Van Slooten’s expertise in gender studies, she breaks down the gender conceptions that MWS depicts in her writing of Frankenstein.

SERIOUS FUN: “It Came From the Public Domain”

IMG_8446So who is Frankenstein’s monster, and does our vision of him parallel with MWS’ writing? The podcast, SERIOUS FUN! hosted by Dr. Carr with his special guest Bob the stuffed ‘creature’, takes on the topic of legal rights in relation to the image of Frankenstein’s monster. During this interactive podcast, the audience was asked to draw the image that pops into their head when thinking of Frankenstein. Naturally, the audience drew the typical creature (bolts in the neck, flat top head, scar on the forehead, etc.) created by Dr. Frankenstein and not Dr. Frankenstein himself. The image we think of as Frankenstein was first proposed by James Whale’s interpretation of the creature in his 1931 adaptation of FrankensteinCarr delved deeper in the matter to explain the timeline of the copyright of the images of Frankenstein and discusses why and how we have many of different versions of Frankenstein today. 

Bird in the Wings: “Designing Fear” 

IMG_8588The last two podcasts of the evening discussed the construction of horror and how it can invoke joy in some while terror in others. The podcast Bird in the Wings is hosted by Kelli Strickland, the Executive and Artistic Director of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. For this special event, Strickland invited two guests from Thirteenth Floor Entertainment who work on designing the popular haunted house attraction in Green Bay, Terror on the Fox. During this podcast, they discussed what goes into creating fear and how to construct an environment that represent real-world problems in consumers’ lives. Haunted houses are very similar to theatre productions in the way that IMG_8624they are crafted and strategically planned to make the audience feel targeted emotions. Through the use of costume design, lighting design, and the good ol’ fashion ‘jump-scare’, they create an immersive interactive environment of entertaining fear. They don’t stop there; the haunted house cast even communicates to each other about the outspoken fears of the customers to be used against them in their walkthrough of horror. (Quick tip: When walking into a haunted house, do NOT express that you are deathly afraid of clowns, because the employees will hear you, and be sure to get a clown all up in your business)

Psychology and Stuff: “Why Do People Like Horror?”

IMG_8637The night ended on the topic of horror movies, specifically why people enjoy them. The podcast Psychology and Stuff was hosted by senior Psychology student Sammy Alger-Feser, Dr. Jason Cowell of the Psychology and Human Development departments, and Dr. Ryan Martin of the Psychology department. The panel was perfectly weighted with Sammy who is a horror film fanatic, Dr. Martin who just might consider watching a scary movie (given that the film has good qualities), and Dr. Cowell, who is not a fan. Throughout the discussion, they brought up their own personal experiences with horror and went on to explain the psychological processes behind their reactions to this type of film.

Final Thoughts On The Night

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It is impossible to summarize every aspect of the thrilling topics that were discussed throughout the night. Even though each of these podcasts has different foundations in their disciplines, they all found creative and festive ways to incorporate their topics into a fluid overall theme. Phoenix Studios LIVE was a great event to showcase the variety of podcasts that UWGB produces. This night was also an excellent representation of the ways UWGB professors, students, and technical staff have created a common platform for the different departments and areas of study. Through this event, the podcasts were able to reach a broader audience and showcase their individual focus, quirks, and personalities. 

We are very excited to see what Phoenix Studios has in store for us next. If you are interested in hearing the recordings from this event, each podcast will be posting their individual segments from the night and you can find them by clicking here

 

Written by Rachel Scray and Elayna Hartter

Photo Credit: Haley Falcon – Thank you for capturing the night.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s “Environmental Humanities” all about? by David Voelker

“Environmental Humanities” is a new minor emphasis in the Humanities. Starting last year, UWGB offers a minor in Humanities, with an emphasis on environmental topics. In addition to including interdisciplinary Humanities classes, the program also includes courses from English, First Nations Studies, History, and Philosophy.

We often think of environmental problems as scientific and technical problems, so when we think about sustainability, we usually turn to scientific and technical solutions. While science and technology are clearly critical to both understanding and solving our environmental problems, they are two pieces of a larger puzzle. After all, since the 1960s (at least), we’ve had a growing scientific understanding of several environmental crises that are underway, including problems with pollution, deforestation, declining biodiversity, and climate change. During the same period, technologies for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other environmentally friendly measures have expanded tremendously. Yet, arguably, the overall global environment is more degraded than ever before in human history. What gives?

To understand what’s going on, we clearly need a perspective that includes history, culture, and ethics. That’s where the Environmental Humanities come in!

The study of History can give us insight into how and why current environmental problems developed over a long period of time and across vast distances on Earth–and can also help us understand and evaluate how effective various efforts of reform and regulation have been over the years.

First Nations Studies allows us to consider perspectives on the relationship between humans and (the rest of nature) that depend more on respect and reciprocity than on control and consumption. What would it mean, as Potawatomi botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer has asked, to “Reclaim the Honorable Harvest”?

Last but not least, Philosophy helps us think in a complex way about the ethical issues involved in our relationships with the natural environment. What’s the moral significance of a tree or of a disappearing species? Do we have obligations to the environment that go beyond human needs? What do we owe future generations?

Taken together, these humanistic disciplines empower us to ask crucial, big questions, including: When we talk about sustainability, what exactly is it that we are trying to sustain?

For the Spring 2019, we are offering three courses that will count toward the minor emphasis in Environmental Humanities:

  • FNS 224: First Nations and the Sacred
  • History 220: American Environmental History
  • FNS 360: Women and Gender in First Nations Communities

For Fall 2019, we are offering two courses that will count toward the minor emphasis in Environmental Humanities:

  • Hum Stud 100: Living the Humanities: Humans and Nature (with substitution)
  • Hum Stud 400: Humanities Practicum (with substitution)

Click here for more information about the Environmental Humanities program at UWGB, or feel free to contact me for questions. There are a couple of other courses that may be substituted for requirements, so please do check in with me or with the Humanities adviser, Professor Heidi Sherman.

Written by,

David Voelker

Associate Professor of Humanities and History

920-465-2491

voelkerd@uwgb.edu

Interning at the Hazelwood Historical Home Museum

UW-Green Bay offers a variety of internships for students to take part in. Humanities interns are able to get internships at local museums, libraries, and more! The last post of the Spring 2018 semester features the next Humanities Department Intern, Rachel Scray who interned throughout the semester for the Hazelwood Historical Home Museum!

Click the link below to read about her experience!

Hazelwood Internship Blog

The String of Pearls Project

Many of us are familiar with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. What most of us don’t know, is this story derives from the 1800s in the form of a penny blood, a “Victorian fiction serial targeting working-class family readers.” Professor Rebecca Nesvet, who specializes in British literature, found a digital facsimile of one of two copies of the compiled versions of The String of Pearls uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Nesvet found issues with its accessibility to the modern public, so she recruited Digital and Public Humanities students to help her solve some of those problems. One student had this to say about the project:

“I am Beth Siltala, and I am an editor of the Sweeney Todd Project. The project is a large-scale and long-term. There are about 170 chapters in this printed work, and we currently are only at chapter 60. I have been editing chapters and creating well researched annotations for about three semesters now under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Nesvet at UW-Green Bay. I first started this project in a class for my Digital and Public Humanities major, learning Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). We were assigned chapters to edit, and then publicly post them on http://www.salisburysquare.com/TSOP/. You can do a lot when annotating a text, like make it very educational or humorous. It just really depends on what the editor wants the readers to get out of the text. Sometimes, in the original text there are moments when the printers make spelling errors, so the job of an editor is to go in and note where the spelling errors are for the publication of the digital edition, notifying the public that this is not an error as this is what was printed.

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Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think the reason why I have been doing this project for three semesters now is because I enjoy doing it. It certainly is not like anything I have ever done before (not in high school or my first couple years at UWGB). I also love the story, so I wanted to be a part of it for a longer time than just one semester. I continued my involvement on the project for the next couple semesters. For my second semester on this project, I became a senior editor for the project in one class, helping junior editors (and Dr. Nesvet teach) with their chapters and coding. Many of the junior editors were shocked that I had only been working on this project for two semesters (at the time I was a senior editor). They were, however, grateful for the knowledge that I gave to them during the semester. Now, in my third semester (Spring 2018) I am an intern for this project. I am proofreading earlier chapters that were published at the early stages of the project. Plus, I am coding chapters to be published on the site. On April 20th, myself, Emma Ferron (another intern in the project), and Dr. Nesvet are going to present our project in the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity. Not only is it to show the UW System what we are doing, but also to show our skills to the public. With this, we can show people what we are doing and why this project is such a big deal to the digital world.

This project has influenced my life a lot over the course of my academic career as a Humanities major, helping me develop my leadership skills and become more confident in my work. It has also enlightened me of a job possibility if museum and gallery work does not work out. I can be an editor or at least a proofreader for a publishing company if I want. The Digital and Public Humanities has shaped me into a person I did not know I could be. Sometimes it is hard to look back and see what would happen if I did not become a Humanities major. What would have happened if I followed another dream of mine and become a novelist? Or a paleontologist? Or even a visual artist? Would I be okay with that? Would I feel accomplished with my life? I don’t know. I do know that I am content with the path I am going down. Where that will lead me? I don’t know. Digital and Public Humanities is a new emphasis to have, and I think I can do a lot with it. I just have to get experience in the field to get to where I hope to be.”

The Digital and Public Humanities is one of the newest tracks in the Humanities major and focuses on creating easily accessible projects on digital and public platforms. You can view the press release for the project for more information on the String of Pearls: String of Pearls-1

The Humanities in 2018

If one were to ask us students, “What are the Humanities?” More often than not, we wouldn’t be able to answer that. That was my experience talking to fifth graders and representing the History Club and the Ancient and Medieval Humanities Club at the mini OrgSmorg hosted by Phuture Phoenix last Fall 2017. The definition of “humanities” covers a variety of subjects including languages, history, philosophy, literature, and more. Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the branches of learning (such as philosophy, arts, or languages) that investigate human constructs and concerns as opposed to natural processes (as in physics or chemistry) and social relations (as in anthropology or economics).”

UWGB states it as such, “The humanities comprise those fields that study human creations of all sorts.” I think this definition is more accurate and representative of the study of the humanities. What is the study of literature, for example, without history or language and vice versa? The humanities as a field of study is truly a beautiful thing in that it spans across almost all fields and has real world, modern applications.

Student Michael Dahlberg presented his research on the origins of UWGB's Eco-friendly reputation with Professor David Voelker at the Academic Excellence Symposium in April 2017.

Student Michael Dahlberg presented his research on the origins of UWGB’s Eco-friendly reputation with Professor David Voelker at the Academic Excellence Symposium in April 2017.

One can see that evidenced at UWGB. The Ancient and Medieval Humanities Club teamed up with the History Club and Engineering Club to build and launch a catapult. The English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, hosts biweekly book discussions on fascinating titles such as Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Professor Stefan Hall hosts mead and beer brewing events. You can watch foreign films or brush up your French, German or Spanish with fellow students and professors. You can listen and contribute to discussions on a wide range of topics alongside community members downtown. Or watch your professors get into heated philosophical debates from the Reformation while personifying Luther and Erasmus. If exploring ways to apply your study of humanities to career fields is your interest, you can do an internship and find yourself doing any number of things, from teaching English to people from all over the world, to shadowing a lawyer in court, to learning how to introduce school kids to snakes at the Neville Public Museum’s reptile exhibit. You can even spend the summer venturing abroad to explore World War I trenches in France, Germany, and Belgium. There are so many opportunities to get involved with the Humanities program and the programs it relates to!

The first annual Untitledtown Book and Author Festival began with the Sheepshead Review launch party.

The first annual Untitledtown Book and Author Festival began with the Sheepshead Review launch party.

When I began my academic career here in Fall 2014, the History Club was starting up again. I worked in the Archives and Area Research Center which at the time was beginning to digitize their collections. Now there’s a Viking House on campus! The English department started UntitledTown, an annual book and author festival! Even the programs name changed from “Humanistic Studies” to “Humanities,” since this program and its disciplinary programs are all fields within the Humanities as well as this title being more widely recognizable.  To sum, the Humanities are blossoming at UWGB, pulling in more curious students and preparing them for a future of excitement, creativity, and wonder!

Knitting Code: A Tale of Two Very Different Disciplines

Recently I had the opportunity to sit-in on a lecture of Dr. Rebecca Nesvet’s for her class “The English Novel: 1850’s to the Present.” The reason why this lecture was particularly interesting was because it covered the topic of binary knitting, or knitting code – an idea of two very different disciplines fusing together. Professor Alison Gates, Chair of the Arts program and well-versed in the world of textiles, assisted in the lecture by discussing her knowledge about different types of knitting around the world and the commonalities between knitting and writing codes. A way that this can be done is by simply using a pattern between knitting and purling.

We have all heard a variation of the phrase “Knit one, purl two.” When it comes to knitting a code, it isn’t very different than using a pattern of ones and zeroes as we would for computer coding. Even more interesting that this strategy was discovered long before the first computer. How this ties together with Dr. Nesvet’s English Novels class is in the interest of Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Madame Defarge was introduced as the wife of a shopkeeper, knitting in the corner, as that was a common activity for women of that time period to be doing. What was not immediately prevelant, however, was the fact that she was knitting code. As if the idea of an old woman knitting a secret cipher was not interesting enough, the message that she was knitting was what we would, by today’s standards, call a hit list.

Madame Defarge seated with her knitting in the wine shop.  Courtesy of Wikipedia / Fred Barnard

Madame Defarge seated with her knitting in the wine shop.
Courtesy of Wikipedia / Fred Barnard

The interest revolving around this topic has not been limited to just Dr. Nesvet’s class; here are some additional sources to look at:

Madam Defarges Cypher – Montgomery Bell

Steganographic Knitting – Sky Fish Knits

 

 

Great Books discussion of Calderon de la Barca’s “Life is a Dream” Tuesday, Jan. 12

Monument to Calderon de la Barca in Madrid, J. Figueras, 1878 (WikiCommons)

Please consider joining us for a discussion of Calderon de la Barca’s 17th century play “Life is a Dream,” moderated by our very own Professor Cristina Ortiz.  The work grapples with questions of free will, fate and metaphysics. Even if you haven’t had a chance to read it, the discussion will be illuminating and educational!

The discussion starts at 6:30pm in the second-floor board room at the Brown County Public Library, Downtown Branch, and they are free and open to the public.

Great Books discussion looks at Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Associate Professor Hernán Fernández-Meardi will lead a discussion of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as part of Humanistic Studies’ Great Book Series at the Brown County Library on Tuesday, December 8th at 6:30pm.  In his critically acclaimed work, Friere advocates for a pedagogy that empowers students as producers of knowledge.  Interested readers may find Friere’s book online.

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