New Perspectives

Today we took a field trip to the Jones Library Special Collections and the Emily Dickinson Museum as a means to expand our understanding of nineteenth century Amherst. This was really exciting, because not only did these excursions deepen our understanding of the historical context surrounding early Amherst, they also allowed us to break out of our everyday Barker Room-Frost Cafe-Archives routine, which definitely helped me to refocus and consider my work from different perspectives.

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A *small* change in scenery
A *small* change in scenery

At the Jones, we looked at several photographs I hadn’t seen before, both of Amherst College and the town of Amherst. These we a huge help in my own mental visual and spatial reconstructions of Amherst. It was also exciting to hear Amanda speak about some of the photos and locations, because so much of her work and her contributions to our final project have to do with these spaces and the people that inhabited them. I’m really looking forward to interacting with her final product!

The Dickinson Museum was also inspiring. I’ve always been quite ashamed that in all my time at Amherst, I never once visited the Dickinson Homestead, but today, as an alumna, I finally made it! Immersing ourselves in two nineteenth-century spaces—the Homestead and the Evergreens—was an important exercise, I think, for two main reasons:

1.) It permitted us to consider (very approximately, of course) what life physically looked like and felt like during that time. Architecture and interior spaces are often such a central part of human experience, and being able to engage with these spaces gave me a better sense of the period we’re working on.

2.) The tour itself was informative, not only for its content, which was excellent, but also for its structure and style. During the tour, I thought a lot about our guide’s use of visual materials and interactivity, which engaged us in ways that went beyond a simple lecture might. The organization and the curation of the tour got me thinking again about how our viewers will interact with our projects, and what types of guiding and interactivity we might try to facilitate on the website.

This all comes at the perfect time, because we are starting to hit the final stretch (!) of the internship, and are really starting to dig into our respective components of the final project, so the look, structure, and organization of the website are definitely becoming very real considerations, which must be determined very, very soon.

There’s definitely lots to consider and process over the weekend, but I think that we’ll all be heading into next week with lots of new inspiration and momentum!

3 thoughts on “New Perspectives”

  1. Yay for a *small* change in scenery! I, too, was impacted by our Friday visits, and I completely agree with how important it is to be thinking about how our viewers will interact with our website–the ways that we were interacting with the Jones’ exhibit and with the Dickinson tour were jogging some ideas of things to be mindful of. What a great experience!

  2. I love your comment on learning from the structure of the tour. I’m pretty sad that I missed that opportunity to see how other people engage with knowledge transmission. But I’m sure you’ll be able to bring those ideas to our discussions as we move forward with constructing our site.

  3. Emma – I, too, think the change in scenery was important! And you’re right: the Dickinson visit particularly highlighted how our final project will be, in many ways, a window to early Amherst in many cases to viewers who are getting exposed to early Amherst College history for the first time. Thinking about how we will reconstruct different aspects of the college within our individual projects in an easily digestible form will definitely be a crucial part of our final project site.

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