This past summer, two cohorts of scholars came to the Newberry for multi-week institutes funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Summer institutes play to the strengths of the Newberry, bringing scholars and teachers to the Newberry around a shared interest that deeply engages our collections.
From June 10 – July 6, 2019, the Newberry’s Smith Center for the History of Cartography hosted “Material Maps in the Digital Age,” led by Smith Center Director Jim Akerman and Peter Nekola from Luther College. The four-week seminar, attended by 16 scholars, focused on the materiality of maps, and the practice of critically reading and teaching from original map documents, informed by the most recent cartographic scholarship. While the world is increasingly digital, the institute focused on the ongoing to understand maps as material objects. An array of map gems from the collection, as well as more commonplace but no less historically interesting objects like road maps, allowed participants to access different aspects of the materiality of maps in daily workshops.
From July 8 – August 2, 2019, the Newberry’s Chicago Studies Program hosted “Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Chicago 1893-1955,” led by Chicago Studies Director Liesl Olson. The institute’s 25 participants and six guest faculty explored Chicago’s contributions to the modernist movement, especially in literary and artistic culture, in the first half of the 20th century. Topics included the formation of cultural clubs and arts organizations; the “Chicago literary renaissance,” and the interactions of Modernist Studies and African American Studies. Field trips, collection presentations, and the opportunity for archival work rounded out the experience of participants.
In August, the NEH awarded Jim Akerman a 2020 Summer Seminar grant to teach “Mapping Nature across the Americas,” targeted at secondary and elementary-level teachers, and co-taught with Kathleen A. Brosnan from the University of Oklahoma. The grant is Jim’s 14th summer program grant during his career in the Smith Center.