Multimedia performance among highlights of first Public Humanities at Yale conference

“The Geneva Project,” a dance and multimedia performance inspired by Professor Laura Wexler’s Photogrammar project, will be among the highlights of the first annual conference hosted by Public Humanities at Yale, part of the American Studies Program.

A scene from “The Geneva Project”

The conference, to be held Friday-Sunday, April 10–12, will inaugurate the creation of the North Eastern Public Humanities Consortium. “The Geneva Project” performance is one of two conference events open to the public free of charge; the other is a program of presentations about similar initiatives at partner institutions.

‘The Geneva Project’ and Photogrammar

While searching the Farm Security Administration Archives of the Library of Congress via the Photogrammar site, New York dancer/choreographer Jennifer Harrison Newman discovered photographs of her great-aunt, Geneva Varner Clark, and her family on their farm in Depression-era South Carolina. The subjects of the photos were described as “negro,” “mixed race,” and “Indian” by the photographer. “The Geneva Project” uses visual imagery, language, sound, and the physical to create a reflection on “race, class, sex, and radical subjectivity in an ever-changing, uncertain, and distinctly American landscape,” writes Harrison Newman.

“The Geneva Project” will take place 6-7 p.m. on Friday, April 10 in the Educational Center for the Arts, 55 Audubon St. The free event is sponsored by Public Humanities at Yale, the American Studies, and The Photographic Memory Workshop.

Wexler’s Photogrammar project is a Web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information between 1935 and 1945. Users can explore the relationship between place, time, photographer, and thematic content through digital maps, data visualizations and extensive metadata cross-references.


The public is also invited to hear representatives from partner institutions discuss their public humanities, public history, digital humanities, oral history, and museum studies programs 9 a.m.–1 p.m. on Saturday, April 11 in the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Lecture Hall at the Yale University Art Gallery (entrance on High St.)

A schedule for the program can be found here.

Public Humanities at Yale

Co-directed by Wexler and Matt Jacobson, Public Humanities at Yale seeks to train American studies graduate students by expanding academic discourse beyond the confines of the classroom, academic publishing, and the academic conference circuit — thereby preparing them for public intellectual work such as museum and gallery installation, documentary film and photography, and oral/community history.

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