Linda Aleci (Franklin & Marshall College)
This paper describes “Curating the City”, an experimental undergraduate seminar, and nascent digital humanities project, at Franklin & Marshall College. The project is undertaken in collaboration with the Phillips Museum of Art, the Lancaster County Historical Society, a Lancaster-based urban planning firm, and a cohort of users active on Lancaster Facebook sites. In it, student curators research different parts of the city of Lancaster, focusing on changing urban forms shaped over time by economic forces and social relations.
Designed to give students an immersive experience in research methods central to the writing of public history and urban history, the seminar integrates traditional research methods with the evolving idioms of digital technologies and social media to help students learn to “read space” and thus visualize historic environments. As an on-line exhibition, “Curating the City” reintroduces that environment to city residents and visitors via an on-line platform. This paper describes both the process of “curating the city” and concludes with a discussion of the potentialities, challenges, and unanticipated outcomes of this mode of teaching and presenting student work.