Stadiumville and deep maps

What happens when you layer an art experiment on top of a science project on top of a walking tour on top of an archival map on top of demographic data on top of a memoir?  What if the archives of multiple universities could be accessed on one platform and layered with the projects, stories, and data from researchers, teachers, students, and community groups?

Stadiumville project site as of November 25, 2014. Screenshot credit: Adina Langer

The concept of deep mapping comes from a literary tradition focused on interdisciplinary exploration of small rural areas, but new technologies in GIS and database-driven visualization tools now allow for incredibly rich explorations of cities.   The Polis Center, based on its National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer institute on deep mapping, defines the concept considering these new possibilities: Continue reading

New uses for old interviews

four men at bar

Left to right: Roger Gregory, Eric King, Tom Robinson, Joel (J.T. Speed) Murphy at the bar at Blind Willies. October 24, 1990. (Photo: David S. Rotenstein)

Can you remember where you worked during graduate school? To pay my way through Penn in the 1980s and 1990s I worked in cultural resource management and as a freelance writer. Although history and material culture are my true professional loves, the writing gig was the more interesting, though less profitable, job.

During a two-year break from classes–it’s a long story–I began writing a blues column for a short-lived Atlanta alt-weekly called Footnotes. Between August 1990 and March 1991, I wrote performance reviews and feature stories about musicians derived from lengthy tape-recorded interviews. I also interviewed bar owners and others to develop background material for future stories.

By the time I decided to return to Penn to finish my coursework, Footnotes had folded and I had begun writing about folk and blues music for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Charlotte Observer, and other papers and magazines throughout the United States. Always the historian, I held onto my research files and interviews, including verbatim transcripts for many of them. Continue reading