Story+ summer program will engage students in energy humanities projects

Posted On:

Wednesday, Jan 08, 2020 - 9:41 am

Story+ is a 6-week paid summer research experience for Duke students—undergraduates and graduates—interested in exploring humanities research approaches (archival research, oral histories, narrative analysis, visual analysis, and more). The program combines research with an emphasis on storytelling for different public audiences. In Story+, students are organized into small project teams and have the opportunity to participate in a flexible mini “curriculum” on research methods and storytelling strategies. Want more information? See the Story+ booth at the Bass Connections Fair on January 24, 2020

Applications open January 24, 2020 and are due by February 14, 2020. Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so students should apply ASAP. 

This year, two of the Story+ projects focus on energy topics:

Body Work: Reanimating Policy Responses to Coal Mining Disasters

Illustrated coal miner holding up an anthromorphised coal mine
Image from Coal Age (July 1947), pg. 80.

During this collision of artistic and academic energies, students will examine U.S. policy responses to significant coal mining disasters during the 20th Century and experiment with methods of processing their research through dance. Drawing on evidence such as transcripts of Congressional hearings, federal reports explaining the causes of disasters, and oral histories with coal miners and their families, students will employ content analysis methods to answer two primary questions: how were the narratives used to explain each disaster constructed? And how did those narratives influence policy that aimed to prevent similar catastrophes in the future?

At the same time, dance artist, educator, and researcher Justin Tornow will introduce the students to embodiment methods, which will include an introduction to somatic practices, structured improvisations for movement and spatial orientation, and the use of chance operations. By the end of the six-week term, students will draw on these tools to compose a post-modern movement performance that communicates both their research and the results of including embodiment as one of their methodological cornerstones. Through this unique research experience, students will investigate themes such as the politics of expertise, the role of focusing events and class and gender-based power dynamics in policymaking, the impact of embodiment on academic inquiry and communication, and the alienation of human bodies from processes of energy production in fossil-fueled societies like the modern U.S.
Project Sponsors: Dr. Jonathon Free (Duke University Energy Initiative and Justin Tornow (Dance Department)

Joining the electric circus: rural electrification and gender in the papers of Louisan Mamer

Copy of page
From Louisan E. Mamer Rural Electrification Administration Papers,
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Between 1939 and 1941, representatives from the Rural Electrification Agency organized a carnivalesque roadshow designed to encourage families to purchase and use electrical appliances and other equipment in their homes and on their farms. A key audience of the roadshow was rural farm women, who were seen as equal partners in the effort of electrification -- and who, the REA reasoned, needed to be shown the way to modernity through electricity. This Story+ project will draw on the Louisan E. Mamer Rural Electrification Administration Papers located at the Smithsonian National Museum for American History to examine how officials’ understanding of the gendered division of labor on American farms informed the tactics they used to encourage utilization of electricity. The overall goal of the project is to understand and share how assumptions about gendered labor influenced the electric circus’s programming, as well as collate any lessons learned for similar programs happening today.

Students will be asked to (at minimum) compile a report on their findings for the Duke University Energy Access Project, and there is also scope to create a podcast episode, or a brief documentary-style video. There may also be an opportunity to contribute to a collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.. The Data+ project entitled, “Taking electrification on the road: Exploring the impact of the Electric Farm Equipment roadshow (1939-1941),” is a partner project to this one and may offer opportunity for collaboration with a data-driven team.
Project Sponsors: Dr. Victoria Plutshack (Energy Access Project), Dr. Rob Fetter (Energy Access Project), Dr. Ashley Rose Young (Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

Curious about previous energy-related Story+ projects?



Sep
18
Location: Virtually
Time: 11:45 am
Sep
22
Location: Virtual
Time: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Sep
23
Location: Virtual
Time: 7:30 am to 9:00 am