Excerpt: “The PLACE districts use a common gifted education framework developed by the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented at the University of Connecticut. Co-investigators of the project, Carolyn Callahan, an education professor at the University of Virginia, and Amy Price Azano, an assistant education professor at Virginia Tech, surveyed educators in all of the participating districts in Kentucky and Virginia about local folklore, history, and landmarks, as well as the businesses and resources available and how connected the community is to other areas. The results were used to tweak curriculum plans for local contexts…”
Excerpt: “Virginia Tech History Professor LaDale Winling, and a team from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond created an interactive map of U.S. congressional districts. It illustrates how the political landscape has changed over time.
“‘We can know not only how congressional boundaries have changed,’ said Winling, ‘but we can do all kinds of evaluations — population density, strength of victory — and we can evaluate the process in an overarching comprehensive way.’”
Excerpt: “The idea of the ‘nation’ is one that’s bounded — it begins and it ends. We recognize that the limits/borders of the nation might shift over time but out there somewhere is a line that separates ‘us’ from ‘them.’ And how people draw those borders effects how we even define ‘us’ and ‘them’ — how, or even if, ‘they’ can become ‘us.’ But it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, throughout the period known as the European Middle Ages, there were no borders at all.”
Excerpt: “As my friend, Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, reminded many of us on the day of the Pittsburgh tragedy, our texts teach that prayer is not enough — we must ‘Demand peace and pursue it’ (Psalm 34). Or to put it as Deborah Lipstadt, noted scholar of Holocaust studies, has: ‘Silence in the face of bigotry is acquiescence.’”
Excerpt: “In recent decades, however, a collision of social forces appears to have reshuffled the balance of hate crimes in America, according to research by Levin and others.
“The shift began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which ‘changed everything,’ Levin said. The prevalence of defensive hate attacks connected to threatening events began to increase, Levin noted in a 2015 study he co-authored with Ashley Reichelmann, a professor at Virginia Tech, that was published in American Behavioral Scientist.
“Using FBI data in that study, the authors found that the number of crimes targeting Muslims and Arabs quickly skyrocketed, from 28 hate crimes in 2000 to 481 in 2001.
“The same happened when Massachusetts became the first state in 2004 to allow gay marriage, the study said, showing the number of hate-motivated assaults against gay people rising from two in 2002 to 24 in 2004.”
Excerpt: “Edgar Allan Poe’s horror stories are scary enough on paper, but what about when they’re literally all around you, surrounding you with dread. That’s what the people at Virginia Tech’s School of the Performing Arts are looking to do, by immersing you in two of Poe’s scariest works, his poem The Raven and his short story The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Excerpt: ”It’s sometimes argued that calls to violence are simply ‘rhetoric,’ that they’re just language. But words have meaning. Language, and the ideas it conveys, influences actions. There’s much more to say about later crusades — and the phenomenon of ‘the Crusades’ as a whole — but it is not too much to say that words made the First Crusade.”
Excerpt: “One of the most interesting such transformations is happening in New Orleans, according to Katie Carmichael. The linguistics researcher and assistant professor at Virginia Tech has been researching the Southern Louisiana city’s unique drawl for years. ‘It changes every six months, who lives there and what they’re arguing about,’ she said. ‘Every time I go back there, it’s such a different place.’
“In years of conversations with New Orleans residents, however, Carmichael has noticed one thing that’s always the same. ‘There’s not a single person who doesn’t bring up Hurricane Katrina,’ she said. That observation led Carmichael to develop a unique hypothesis: Maybe the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005 did more than just change the city’s physical and cultural landscape. Perhaps it altered how New Orleanians speak, too.”
Excerpt: “A Virginia Tech oral history project will give unheard voices a platform. Tech English professor Katrina Powell and a small army of students, faculty and staff are working together on a project to have refugees and migrants tell their stories in their own words. The project — ‘Resettled: Beginning (Again) in Appalachia’ — received funding and help from the organization Voice of Witness. ‘This state has a history of resettlement,’ Powell said. ‘We’re trying to highlight how that [resettlement] speaks to the history of Virginia and Appalachia.’”
Excerpt: As others, such as Eve L. Ewing and Irina Dumitrescu, have explained in more contemporary moments, the Arts and Humanities are some of the surest safeguards against authoritarianism because they show us possible worlds. The Arts and Humanities show us how things could be different than they are.
Marc Bloch understood this all too well. For him, the study of the past was about better understanding the path to the present — a path whose contours were not to be assumed, but to be rigorously, unrelentingly sought. Living in the darkness of Nazism, Bloch understood that he first needed to seek the roots of the tree casting that shadow before it could be uprooted and toppled.
In a word, Marc Bloch reminds us that the point of history was to have something to say about the present.
Excerpt: “The idea of the ‘Dark Ages’ might well be a kind of vampire myth, one that seems to be able to live forever despite the repeated attempts of scholars to kill it off. And although this new exhibition at the British Library likely won’t be the stake through that myth’s heart, the brightness — the light — of the treasures on display will at least force that myth back into the shadows once more. Where it belongs.”
Black-owned funeral businesses proliferated after the Civil War. Beverly Bunch-Lyons says it stemmed from the desire of African Americans to have their family members buried with care and dignity by black undertakers.
Excerpt: “But a remarkable thing happened. These letters became the students’ letters. In many cases, they were in awe of them and remarked on holding history in their hands. They became attached to the ones they were assigned to transcribe, and they became invested in helping others read tricky passages. In some ways, it was a puzzle—what did each letter say, and what did each letter mean?”
Excerpt: “The lesson here is that scholars in the sciences and humanities need to work more closely together, to learn from one another as equal. Those material objects, the remnants of the past that come to us in the present, don’t belong just to one field of study but to all of us.”
Excerpt: “Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, killing some 2,000 people and displacing tens of thousands more. The most destructive and costly hurricane in U.S. history, so far, scattered many residents of New Orleans to the four winds. They couldn’t take a lot with them when they fled, but one thing that always goes with you is your language, your accent or dialect. And those things speak volumes about you. “People draw connections between ways of speaking and what type of person you are,’ says Katie Carmichael, an English Professor at Virginia Tech. ‘And this can be in both good ways and bad ways, so, for example, one of the things I study is how we connect language use to our identity, how we use it to express something about ourselves.’”