by Aimee Mepham, Program Coordinator, WFU Humanities Institute
The Humanities Institute Faculty “Supposium” took place on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. This gathering was held in lieu of the usual, more formal symposium that the institute holds each spring.
More than 50 WFU faculty members spent this sunny Saturday discussing issues of interdisciplinary collaboration, humanities and their publics, and directions in which they would like to see the Humanities Institute go. This was a day for conversation, debate, and brainstorming about the future to think about what the institute and faculty, together, might want to accomplish.
After breakfast and a welcome from Humanities Institute Director, Mary Foskett, the day’s programming began with a lively panel discussion on “Interdisciplinary Futures,” moderated by Margaret Ewalt. Responses from panelists Gale Sigal, Jefferson Holdridge, Alan Williams, Ana Maria Wahl, Wanda Balzano, and Lynn Book, as well as from the other attendees in the audience, provoked an interesting conversation that set the tone for the day.
A panel on the Humanities and Their Publics followed. Panelists Jay Curley, Alessandra Bealey Von Burg, and Thomas Frank responded to questions posed by moderator David Phillips on how the humanities engage with public audiences outside of the university.
Elizabeth Chew, Betsy Main Babcock Director of the Curatorial and Education Division of Reynolda House Museum of American Art, spoke next about the museum’s current and upcoming exhibits. She also welcomed potential collaborations between Wake Forest faculty and the museum.
After lunch, Aimee Mepham presented a Digital/Multimedia “Slam” that showcased the work of several Humanities Institute-funded digital projects: the 18th-Century Common (Ventures in Humanities), The Imagination Project: Artists of the Holocaust (Humanities Matters), Humanities for the Environment (CHCI/Mellon Foundation), Re-Writing Exile: Women, Arts, and Technologies (faculty seminar), and The Story of My Life (Winston-Salem Partners in the Humanities).
Attendees enjoyed gelato from the West End’s Cafe Gelato while meeting for “Table Talks.” The four main topics covered were “Next Steps for Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminars,” “Public Humanities,” Digital Humanities and Multimedia,” and “Student Programming.”
The tables were encouraged to “dream big” before they turned to a discussion of logistical implementation of their ideas. Each group presented the notes from their conversations to the larger group of attendees. Even after a full day of thinking and discussing, the conversation remained energetic.
The day concluded with faculty looking forward to the future and the exciting work ahead.