198 001 | CCN: 23421


    Instructor: Jennifer R. Wolch

    Location: Wurster 315A

    Date / Time: Mo 11:00am - 12:29pm

    “Outside lies magic,” maintains the landscape historian John Stilgoe. Magic, for Stilgoe, is regaining a sense of history and awareness in everyday places, if only we can train our eyes to see beyond what we have taken for granted and train our bodies to explore the everyday. In this colloquium we will explore techniques of place-based storytelling. How can curated, place-based experiences help to point out local histories embedded in the landscape? Who is creating these and what traditional and emerging technologies do they employ to produce the experiences?

    Recently developed projects tracing the sites of Black Panther history, queer activism, protest art, and environmental injustice attempt to be tools of activism by widening the “publics” who can know and champion one another’s experiences of place. At a time when we are reconsidering how monuments and public spaces shape our understanding of history, what lessons can planners, historians, artists, and community organizers learn from these creative grassroots memorializations?

    The colloquium consists of a series of guest speakers who are producers of place-based storytelling projects in the Bay area. They will talk about their motivations, processes, and tools. Interspersed we will have “off-weeks” to debrief and digest the issues raised by the previous speaker presentations. Together we will try to examine the infrastructure of public storytelling.

    Part I of the course will focus on the “story”: who owns it, the role of authorship and identity of the storyteller, and the politics of spectacle. The intent of storytelling can be to surface histories of racism and inequality but we must also read the act of storytelling as productive of dynamics. We will consider the role of archival or ethnographic research in constituting stories about community. Part II of the course will look at the “place” aspect of “place-based” storytelling. Stories can be told about or from concentrated urban streets, a regional parks landscape, or even a digital space. What unique challenges and opportunities arise with place? Does place-based storytelling have different goals, and when and why does it arise? Finally, Part III will explore present techniques and technologies: walking audio tours, guided performance experiences, the use of augmented reality, installation, murals, and everyday guerilla urbanisms. We will consider pros and cons of different approaches, look at how technology integrates into the audience experience, and evaluate accessibility and inclusion.

    This course is useful for students interested in the uses of narrative in the public humanities, museum curation, urban design and planning, art practice, performance, public health, education, social work, journalism, social action and community organizing. The course is an excellent introduction to the Future Histories Lab Certificate in Urban Humanities.