Faculty Members Participate in American Studies Conference

Several members of the Trinity faculty took part in the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association, which was held in Hartford, October 16-19.  Hosted by the Hartford Resources Committee and the New England American Studies Association (NEASA), the theme of the conference was Violence and Belonging.

Todd Vogel, visiting assistant professor of American Studies, was part of a panel discussion that focused on the use of artifacts and houses to illuminate literature and how literature can help to increase understanding of the physical environments in which it was produced.  The workshop, “American Studies in a Connecticut Yankee’s Court: Bringing Material Culture Studies and Literary Studies Together,” was held at the Mark Twain House.  Vogel sits on the council of the NEASA and is co-chair of the Hartford Resources Committee.      

Director of Women’s Studies and Professor of History Joan Hedrick took part in a workshop entitled, “Nook Farm: An American 19th Century Literary Community.”  The three-hour session at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center called attention to this almost forgotten Victorian community of literary and political figures who helped to shape America’s literature and social history.  Hedrick is the author of a 1995 Pulitzer prize-winning biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The writers Stowe and Mark Twain were among the notable residents of Hartford’s Nook Farm community.  

Among the highlights of the weekend was “Documenting Wealth, Poverty and Race in Hartford: The Hartford Studies Documentary Film Project.”  The session, organized by the Trinity-based Hartford Studies Project, included a screening of film footage shot in Hartford in the summer of 1969 by filmmakers from the Film Board of Canada and UCLA, working with local Black Panthers, community activists, and residents to document “wealth and poverty.”  The footage depicts community organizing activities in the city’s neighborhoods, schools, and streets in the era of urban renewal as well as interviews conducted between 2000 and 2003.

The screening was followed by a lively panel and audience discussion session that included Assistant Professor of History Luis Figueroa; Associate Professor of History and Hartford Studies Project Director Susan Pennybacker; and filmmaker, writer, and curator W. Frank Mitchell, who teaches American Studies in Trinity’s graduate program.  The session was moderated by Tony Hall, director of the Trinidad Global Learning Site, and included graduate student Diane Smith and alumni Joan Jacobs ’99, Stephen McFarland ’00, and Thomas G. Smith M’98.       


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