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August 2012

the latest from Suite 603

August 27, 2012

The NEH website is featuring "Road Work in West Virginia: Council projects explore two West Virginia highways."
Honoring story-teller Louise Erdrich with stories
Missouri's Civil War
Fall for festivals
Statehood centennials for New Mexico & Arizona
Emancipation Nation, September 17
This summer at NEH
Your stories are all over the NEH website

"Muslim Journeys" bookshelf grant opportunity: application deadline October 25, 2012

As part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, NEH is collaborating with the American Library Association to present “Muslim Journeys,” the first in a planned series of Bridging Cultures Bookshelves. Through Bridging Cultures Bookshelf programs, NEH will provide resources to enhance libraries’ collections and their capacity to engage audiences in reflection on and conversation about a variety of Bridging Cultures themes.

Honoring story-teller Louise Erdrich with stories

The North Dakota Humanities Council has just hosted a two-day symposium to honor North Dakota writer Louise Erdrich and her work on behalf of Native language preservation.

New York Times best-selling author, Louise Erdrich grew up in North Dakota, where her parents taught at a school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As the daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a German-American father, Erdrich explores Native-American themes in her works, with major characters representing both sides of her heritage.

The symposium brought together four of the nation’s most celebrated writers and poets to share their stories. Representing the four borders of the nation, each writer brings their rich cultural perspective to bear on the American experience. Honoree Louise Erdrich shared her journey during a conversation with fellow North Dakota author Jamieson Ridenhour. The other speakers were Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, former member of the National Council on the Humanities and kin of many state humanities councils; writer Luis Alberto Urrea; and poet Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate, who performed improvisatory poetry with a local jazz combo to create a spontaneous work of art that tells its own story.

The event included poetry and fiction writing workshops as well as an evening of conversation and story-telling by Erdrich, Nye, Urrea, and Pinsky, moderated by Jamieson Ridenour.

Missouri's Civil War

"The Civil War in Missouri" is a travelling exhibition sponsored by the Missouri Humanities Council and the Missouri History Museum that is touring the state through 2015.

The three sections of the exhibition focus on the major aspects of the war in Missouri: slavery and its essential role in the origins and execution of the war; the issues of conflicting loyalties, interests and beliefs among the state’s diverse population; and the nature and impact of the guerilla warfare, which occurred throughout much of Missouri during the war. The context for these themes is provided by an interactive timeline, which will depict specific battles and other events during the course of the war.

A reading and discussion workshop, "Civil War Stories," accompanies the exhibition and is designed for families with children aged 6-11, with another designed for teachers. Young participants will receive free books as well as a docent-led tour of the exhibition.

"Civil War Stories" is led by one of two professional storytellers, as illustrated in these videos: Jimmy V. Johnston: Child Soldier of the Civil War, told by Annette Harrison, and Forgiven by Ambrose Bierce, retold by Steve Otto.

Fall for festivals

The fall book festival season begins in September and runs into November. The first of the book festivals that involve state humanities councils is the National Book Festival, sponsored by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The councils that are also their state's Center for the Book have been offered NEH travel subsidies to attend the National Book Festival. The Baltimore (MD) Book Festival and the South Dakota Festival of Books are also in September.

The October book festivals are in Utah, Montana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In November, book lovers should travel to Las Vegas for the Vegas Valley Book Festival and to Madison for the Wisconsin Book Festival. For a change of pace go to Phoenix for the Arizona Humanities Council's Humanities Festival, the theme of which this year is "American Jukebox," an exploration of American music.

Spring is the next book festival season. Find a listing of book and literary festivals on the NEH website and mark your calendars accordingly.

Statehood centennials for New Mexico & Arizona

In 1912 the neighboring territories of New Mexico and Arizona joined the Union, New Mexico on January 6 and Arizona on February 14. They became the 47th and 48th states, respectively.

The New Mexico Humanities Council celebrates the New Mexico centennial with an online version of The Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, by Peter Eidenbach, which features over 100 historic maps dating back to the 16th century. This online supplement explores some of the maps in detail. In addition, the NMHC website has a resource section for K-12 educators, researchers, and other history and geography professionals.

The Arizona Humanities Council has marked Arizona's centennial by adding fifteen new, Centennial-themed presentations to its Speakers Bureau. According to Celina Ciarella, Senior Programs and Grants Coordinator,AHC also targeted centennial programs with its grants, such as an award to Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy for a free panel discussion entitled “Arizona’s Constitution and Our Political Culture: The Progressive Roots.” AHC also supported the development of a photography exhibit entitled 100 Years, 100 Ranchers and its accompanying audio guide. The exhibit, hosted by the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, featured photographs of contemporary ranchers by Scott Baxter and oral histories of ranching and ranching families in Arizona.

Emancipation Nation, September 17

Thomas Nast illustration of the benefits of emancipation. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Thomas Nast illustration of the benefits of emancipation. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

NEH will celebrate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s declaration that abolition of slavery was a goal of the Civil War.

The Emancipation Nation commemoration will involve day-long events, including a student contest; a panel discussion by Civil War experts; “watch parties,” held at various locations, modeled on the watch parties Northern abolitionists held on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation becoming law; and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.

Five leading Civil War scholars, led by University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers, will discuss the importance of Emancipation at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and live-streamed into schools, libraries, and community centers across the country. They will be joined by a live audience of 200 students from the Washington, DC area colleges and universities.

Participants hosting watch parties will be able to view the panel and other watch parties by means of a live stream, submitting their questions to the panel in real-time by email or interacting with the twitter handle @NEHemancipation.

The Emancipation Nation program coincides with Constitution Day which marks the day in 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was signed. In 2004, Congress declared September 17 as Constitution Day, mandating that all federally-funded educational institutions study the U.S. Constitution. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is a key moment in the process that led to the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery.

This summer at NEH

Click on the image to use the AIDS Quilt Touch mobile web app which creates a zoomable map of the quilt. The app was built with a grant from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities. The parts of the quilt were on display around the Washington metropolitan area in July.
Click on the image to use the AIDS Quilt Touch mobile web app which creates a zoomable map of the quilt. The app was built with a grant from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities. The parts of the quilt were on display around the Washington metropolitan area in July.

Transitions in the Division of Public Programs: First, Karen Mittelman became director, followed shortly by Michael Shirley being appointed deputy. In July, senior program officers David Martz and John Meredith retired. They had both worked at NEH for 25 years. John spent a number of years in the former Division of State Programs, predecessor to Federal/State Partnership, and many of you will remember him well.

The program officer staff of Public has been replenished by two new hires, Marc Ruppel and Chrissy Cortina. Marc has a background in both literature and interactive game design and has taught film history, composition, and "Literature in a Wired World." Chrissy comes to the NEH from Durham, NC where she has been a visiting instructor at NC State University and Guilford College. She has a PhD from the History Department at Brown University. Her research specialties include 20th century U.S. race and gender relations; the American South; as well as Latino and Latin American culture.

Steve Ross of Challenge Grants publishes a book: Chairman Leach alerted us to the fact that Steve and his fellow editor Noel Polk have published a deluxe, color-coded, and annotated edition of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Acclaim for these “eminent Faulknerians” can be found in reviews in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Guardian.

Your stories are all over the NEH website

In the last month we've posted short news items about hurricane recovery grants in New York; the announcement that Robert D. Putnam will give the Governor's Lecture in Nebraska this year; the New England symposium on the humanities and civil society, with videos featuring Esther Mackintosh and executives and staff of the six New England humanities councils; writer Jimmy Santiago Baca as guest of the Guam Humanities Council; and news that former Associate Justice David Souter will speak at a New Hampshire Humanities Council event.

And those stories appeared in just one section of the NEH website. Others were published as Featured Projects on our FedState pages and featured on the NEH home page. The Humanities magazine focus this month is on Indiana Humanities' Keira Amstutz. The calendar of events on NEH's main page includes information about what you're doing too.

The FedState webpages include our tweets, including our link to the blog written by Illinois Humanities Council's recent site visitor Richard Longworth about his experience meeting people with whom the IHC works. He comments that "what struck me most in the two days of conversations was the almost desperate thirst in the state's isolated small towns for some link to the wider world, for the need to tap into minds and thinking beyond the town limits, if only to feel that they haven't been totally exiled from life.The IHC and other state councils try to meet this need. Several persons called this a 'lifeline,' and I felt they meant this literally."

Federal/State Partnership is eager to learn your stories and to publicize them in this newsletter and on the NEH website. Contact Kathleen Mitchell and Meg Ferris for more information—or just send us your stories and photos (minimum: 620 x 370 pixels; maximum: 1000 x 1000 pixels).

National Endowment for the Humanities
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Edie Manza, director [ about ]
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
Meg Ferris, program analyst [ about ]
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]

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