MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012: Fall Forward, Part Three

[I’m on my first sabbatical this fall, and will be working on a bunch of different projects. All of them could benefit from the input and ideas of my fellow American Studiers, and so this week I’ll be blogging about a handful of those projects and asking for your contributions (not financial, it’s a paid sabbatical). I’d love to hear your thoughts! And please feel free to share some of what you’re working on too, so I can return the favor.]
On my new direction for an ongoing project—one which needs your help now more than ever!
I’m written a few posts in the past, including this weekend special, about my NEH grant proposal for a traveling exhibition on contemporary immigrant American writers, to be hosted by the in-progress American Writers Museum. We heard back from the NEH earlier this month, and unfortunately the proposal and exhibition didn’t receive funding. But I’m not one to focus on the bad in bad news, and so have decided to try to come up with an online exhibition that’ll be equivalent to, or at least offer a version of, what we were hoping to do in the traveling exhibition. That means, for one thing, that the request in my weekend special post still stands—suggestions for contemporary immigrant writers (any genre, although now I suppose authors of short stories, poems, and other briefer works would be particularly welcome) will be very much appreciated and considered.
But it also means that I’ve got some more planning to do. The AWM has already hosted one online exhibition on its website, and as you can see from the main site’s poll question is planning for more, so I’ll have some good models from which to work as I move forward. I also believe that some of the specific components to the existing proposal could work well in an online environment: a map tracing the migration routes of writers and their families could work even better as a digital document, with different key spots opening up to further pictures and information and the like; representations of author’s American places and spaces could likewise be constructed digitally and (for example) hyperlinked to each other and thus put in interesting conversation; and, most excitingly to me, the idea of visitors to the exhibition contributing pieces of their own family’s stories, voices and stories that could then become permanent parts of the exhibition, would be even more easily and fully realizable in an online exhibition. So I’m feeling good about the possibility of making this transition, and about what the online exhibition might become.
Maybe the best part of taking on the online exhibition design myself, however, is that I can ask you all for input! The NEH proposal featured a great team of scholars, a couple of whom I wrote about in this post, and I’m certainly hoping that they can stay involved in one way or another. But while a grant proposal might not be able to list “As many American Studiers as possible!” as the scholarly design team, I’ve got no such compunctions when it comes to this online exhibition. So I’ll ask you—if you were going to design an online exhibition on late 20th and early 21st century immigrant writers, what might you include? That means content in part, but I’m just as interested in every other element: structure, sections, design, innovative digital components that I can’t even put in words because I’m just not quite there yet, and so on. Share your ideas here in comments or by email (brailton@fitchburgstate.edu), and I promise I’ll make sure you get credit as part of the exhibition’s design as we move forward and when it’s up, running, and as awesome as I know we’ll make it.
Next fall project tomorrow,
Ben
PS. You know what to do!
9/6 Memory Day nominee: Jane Addams!

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