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Library Teaching Quarterly: Spring 2019

Keeping you up to date with Library teaching and outreach activities.

In this issue, we bring you four articles from across the Dartmouth libraries. First, learn about a current exhibit installed in Berry Library curated by Matika Wilbur, entitled "Changing the Way We See Native America." Next, for those who could not attend the opening reception and artist talk in May, a reflection on Matika's "Learning From Indigenous Vision and Voice" presentation offers readers a glimpse into the complicated Indigenous experience as expressed in the artist's photography. Then, learn more about the upcoming "Enduring Fellowship" exhibit, which is the third installation in the Library's 250th exhibition series. Finally, we end this volume of the library teaching Quarterly with an article written by Caitlin Birch focusing on the recent SpeakOut oral history project. Please enjoy!

Changing the Way We See Native America:  Photography and Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 by Wendel Cox

Recently, the exhibit cases on Berry Main Street have been host to a powerful set of images from Matika Wilbur’s Project 562, a vast, multi-year endeavor to depict contemporary Indigenous peoples of the federally-recognized tribes of the United States. Wilbur, a photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes, selected photographs especially for display at Dartmouth, including images of several individuals from New England tribes such as the Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, and Micmac. Like the images themselves, accompanying texts foreground the voices of Wilbur’s Indigenous subjects. Wilbur’s project is a profound challenge to the commonplace depiction of Indigenous people over centuries, which have mainly reproduced the views and needs of the project of settler colonialism and presented Indigenous people as timeless, now absent, and almost entirely silent. Such representations have proved extraordinarily durable and are implicated in the erasure of Indigenous peoples from their land and our collective histories.

"Changing the Way We See native America" runs on Berry Main Street from April 1 to June 30, 2019.

Note: As Wilbur acknowledged, her project cannot – nor should not – document every federally-recognized tribe. At the same time, the project’s scope has grown since its inception, both as a result of ongoing federal recognition of tribes and her decision to include peoples without federal recognition. At this time, there are 573 federally-recognized tribes in the United States, dozens of state-recognized tribes, and many, many more peoples as yet without federal or state recognition.

Learning From Indigenous Vision and Voice by Wendel Cox

On May 9, 2019, Matika Wilbur spoke in the East Reading Room about Project 562. Her energy, humor, and commitment were evident to everyone in the standing-room-only audience. Over a little less than an hour, she reclaimed the East Reading Room for Indigenous voices, speaking not of a past but a dynamic present and future. Wilbur built a relationship with her audience with a greeting, a call to share ourselves with each other, and gathered us together to hear her stories of traveling and photographing Indigenous people. With her charming and disarming stories, she also offered us a glimpse of her process and the work of a slow, patient, and profoundly respectful collaboration between photographer and subject – a process paralleled in recent generations of Indigenous scholarship, where the needs of communities and their respective members come first.

"Generations of Community" by Katie Harding and Joshua Dacey

Every June, the energy inside Baker Berry Library reaches a fever pitch. Early in the month, students flock to the Tower Room to seeking refuge and silence to study for finals, some for the last time. In the levels below, a burgeoning revelry is felt in the excited whispers of summer plans and life after commencement. Then, within the span of two weeks, the library becomes desolate. Students are gone and a brief respite for the staff settles in. For many Dartmouth students, it is a time for reflection. Graduating seniors are leaving Dartmouth and in a sense, leaving what has been their world for the past four years. Entering freshman are grappling with feelings of displacement and nervous excitement as they seek to find their place in what will be their world for the next four years. The campus community ebbs and flows every year in this way and has for nearly 250 years. That history, the history of the campus community, is the central focus of the next 250th anniversary exhibit "Generations of Community." The exhibits' curators, Shaun Akhtar '12 and Katie Harding, wanted to explore "the range of ways community has been experienced (or in some cases not experienced) and how students, past and present, have shaped the communities that we see today." The six panel exhibit will be installed in Reiss Hall, Baker Main for those who missed the renaming last month, from July 3rd until September 18th, 2019. When asked what she hopes visitors will learn in exploring the complex history of community and fellowship and Dartmouth, Katie Harding had this to say,  "I would like for people who view this exhibit to be inspired to think about the communities that exist at Dartmouth and to consider how those communities foster inclusion. I hope that our exhibit gives them examples of students being a positive force for change in creating a more inclusive Dartmouth." Want to hear more from Katie and Shaun? Keep an eye out for our next post in the "Curator's Corner" blog series.

"Enduring Fellowship" was Curated by Shaun Y. Akhtar '12 and Katie Harding. Exhibit design provided by Dennis Grady. Editing by Laura Barrett and Joshua Dacey. The exhibit will be installed from July 3rd until September 18th, 2019 in Reiss Hall located in Baker Library. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

SpeakOut by Caitlin Birch

The oral history interview between Mary K. Klages ’80 and Abigail R. Mihaly ’21 is winding down. As with many interviews, the end is a time for reflection. Abby asks Mary to reflect on her hopes for Dartmouth’s future and Mary weighs in: “What I learned at Dartmouth was conversation is crucial. Talking about things is always better than not talking about things. You’re only as sick as your secrets, and your silence won’t protect you. So that’s what I would wish for, is ongoing in-depth, heartfelt conversation about our differences.”

In a way, Mary has summarized what students like Abby are working to achieve with SpeakOut: a breaking of silences, a space for honest reckoning with Dartmouth’s past. Simultaneously, she’s also described much of what they’re learning: a research methodology that centers intentional conversation and active listening.

SpeakOut — a project dedicated to documenting the history of Dartmouth’s LGBTQIA+ community through oral history interviews like Mary’s — begins in the classroom. There, students who are each responsible for producing four interviews for the project learn the theory and methodology of oral history. They explore the archives and consider how materials end up there. They engage, often for the first time, with the influence archival collecting exerts on the historical record. They consider why and how gaps in the archives form and contend with the specific gap of LGBTQIA+ history. They begin to understand the role they’ll play as student interviewers and they prepare to play it.

The SpeakOut training term emphasizes active learning, while the year of interviewing that trained students embark upon represents experiential learning. Classroom activities that range from the basic think-pair-share to the more involved special collections scavenger hunt prepare students to enter a new, far less familiar classroom: that of an oral history interview that puts their knowledge to the test while inviting them to learn through the lived experiences of their interviewee. The imperfect interviews that result are not the same as those a professional oral historian might produce, but in some ways they’re better. Amidst the inevitable nerves, bumbles, and recording glitches, we hear one generation of the Dartmouth community connect with another in pursuit of exactly what Mary Klages described: in-depth, heartfelt conversation.

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