Orser Center Events – Fall 2011

Marci Reaven, “Giving the Past a Presence: Public History Experiments in New York City”


Thursday, December 1, 4-6pm, UMBC Library Gallery

Dr. Marci Reaven’s career in public history has included stints with the exhibit planning firm American History Workshop, the cultural organization City Lore (where she directed the wide-ranging Place Matters project), and the New York Historical Society where she is Vice-President for History Exhibitions. She’ll draw on her own experiences and those of others to discuss the joys and challenges of public history, paying particular attention to projects that center around places and their ability to connect us to the past, and to diverse communities and their ongoing cultural traditions.

Bmore Historic


Friday, December 2, 8:30am-3:30pm, Maryland Historic Society

What is Bmore Historic?

Bmore Historic is a participant-led unconference on public history, historic preservation and community development in the Baltimore region and across the state of Maryland. Organized in partnership between Baltimore Heritage, the Greater Baltimore History Alliance, the Maryland Association of History Museums, Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland, and the UMBC Orser Center, Bmore Historic is an opportunity to connect with local historians, humanities scholars, preservation advocates, museum professionals, archivists, and anyone interested in exploring the vital intersections between people, places and the past in Baltimore and Maryland. We’re bringing people together and you set the agenda.

What is an “unconference”?

Unlike most traditional academic or professional meetings, an unconference is a created and managed by the participants, with the content of the conference determined day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than in advance by the organizers. Unconferences are not a spectator sport. Leave your PowerPoint at home, we’re not looking for presentations, just people who are ready share their knowledge and discuss their work.

Bridging Baybrook: Preserving the Past, Developing the Future (2011)

“American Studies 422: Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore” is an applied research course in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).  During the spring 2011 semester, students worked with Professor Nicole King to explore the important role of historic places in sustaining vibrant urban culture.  After readings on public history projects such as The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History and The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History, students partner with a local non-profit community organization to develop an innovative preservation and public history project on overlooked people and places in Baltimore.  During the spring 2011 semester, students worked on the Greater Baybrook area in South Baltimore.

A Faculty Innovation Grant funded by the Kauffman Foundation through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at UMBC provided the seed money for this course.  The course teaches students about social entrepreneurship, which balances creating social good with making a profit to sustain the future.  The $1,500 Faculty Innovation Grant provides the funds for the event and any profits over the original $1,500 are donated to a non-profit organization based in Baltimore.  All of the profits from the spring 2011 course were donated to the Baybrook Coalition, a 501c(3) non-profit organization with the goal of improving the Greater Brooklyn area.

Greater Baybrook is comprised of the industrial communities of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Fairfield, Hawkin’s Point, Masonville, and Wagner’s Point.  On May 14, 2011 the students hosted an event—Bridging Baybrook: Preserving the Past, Developing the Future—that drew over one hundred people to the Polish Home Hall, a historic community building owned by the Baybrook Coalition.  The event was a community celebration incorporating public history programming, art, music, food, and events for children.  Tickets were sold for $5 to community residents and $15 for visitors.  The ticket included a program of historical essays on the various neighborhoods in Greater Baybrook prepared by Professor King and the students and access to all the food, entertainment, and events throughout the day (2-6pm).

The first floor was decorated in spring colors and had a history table, with materials including history panels the students designed, and a large map where community members could discuss the important places in the community.  The history table also sold t-shirts and buttons the students designed. A delicious Barbeque lunch with all the fixings was provided with hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for children.  There was also a kids’ station outside where young visitors could build greenhouses, paint rocks, or play horseshoes.  Children twelve and under (accompanied by an adult) were provided free access to the event.  Students in the course worked with local students (from both Curtis Bay Elementary and Chesapeake Center for Youth Development) over the previous month in making art that represented place in their community.

The art was featured on the second floor as part of a silent auction where the artists received half of the profits and half went to the community.  The second floor also had a stage where various musical acts performed.  By holding this event, the students commemorated a sense of place in the community and offered a space to gather, reflect, and make new memories.  During the event Carol Eshelman, executive director of the Baybrook Coalition for the past decade, was honored upon her retirement.  On the day of the event, the students raised $1,200.  After replenishing the $1,500 seed money for the course, the students donated $400 to the Baybrook Coalition and provided $70 to local students for their part of the proceeds from their art.

The course and the event were great successes.  Professor Nicole King and Steve Bradley (Associate Professor in Visual Arts) were awarded an IRC/CAHSS Summer Faculty Residency for 2011 for an online public history mapping project in the Greater Baybrook community.  They will work with Dan Bailey, Lee Boot, Eric Smallwood, and Abbey Salvo to launch a prototype of the Mapping Baybrook Project over the summer/fall.

Orser Center Advisory Committee Meeting & Event on March 30

The Orser Center Advisory Committee will be meeting at The Commons 318 at UMBC at 3pm on Wednesday, March 30.

Following the brief meeting, the Orser Center is sponsoring a Humanities Forum panel discussion “Meet Maryland Traditions” from 4-6pm at the UMBC Library Gallery.  There is a reception following the panel discussion.

See pdf for full info on “Meet Maryland Traditions” event:


Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture

On the evening of November 11, 2010 the CSPCC was endowed the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.

Thanks to everyone who helped to organize this event and gave to the endowment to continue the wonderful community projects Dr. Orser pioneered at UMBC.  Congratulations to Dr. Orser on his retirement and new role as Professor Emeritus at UMBC.  More more on the event, see this article in UMBC’s Insights online magazine.

Ed Orser Retirement Party

The Department of American Studies at UMBC is hosting a special event to honor Dr. Ed Orser, who retired in August after over 40 exemplary years at UMBC.

Ed Orser Retirement Party
Thursday, November 11 from 7-10pm
Skylight Lounge

Please R.S.V.P to Carol Harmon
(410) 455-2106
or harmon@umbc.edu

This event is the Kickoff of the Ed Orser Endowment Fund

In honor of Dr. Orser’s extraordinary contributions to the department and university, the American Studies Department plans to endow the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture to continue the work Dr. Orser pioneered.  Endowing the Center requires that we initially raise a minimum of $25,000, and we hope to raise considerably more than that in the years ahead.

Dr. Orser was a founding member of the Department of American Studies.  He helped to build the Department’s curriculum from the ground up, mentored many faculty members, won both the Presidential and Regents’ awards for teaching excellence, and served as chair for many years.  He is a leading scholar in urban and community studies, as evidenced by his 1994 book, Blockbusting in Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story, a classic study of the dynamics of racial change in a city neighborhood.  As a public intellectual mindful of the need to inform civic discourse, Dr. Orser has consistently translated his scholarship into accessible and popular exhibits, teaching materials, films, public lectures, and community projects. Generations of American Studies students benefited from the research and fieldwork of the Community Studies Projects he designed and led for his classes.

Send contributions to the Orser fund to:

Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture
c/o Carol Harmon
Department of American Studies – Fine Arts 453
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

Checks should be made to UMBC Foundation; please write Orser Center in the subject line.

Inaugural CSPCC Lecture: Thursday, September 23

Toward a Bicycle Culture: Rethinking Urban Life on Two Wheels
UMBC Library Gallery
Thursday, September 23 4-6pm

Zack Furness, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies
Columbia College Chicago

In this lecture, Zack Furness will discuss some of the various ways in which the bicycle has been put to use as a tool for critically examining the relationships between space, place, community, and mobility in the United States.  By drawing attention to a range of political and cultural practices that include public protest, street/performance art, media production, and the establishment of non-profit community centers, Dr. Furness looks at how a burgeoning counterculture of bicyclists are actively redefining the meaning of “pedal power” and illuminating the prospects of a more sustainable, convivial vision of city.  Zack Furness is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago and the author of One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility (Temple University Press, 2010).  He is member of the Bad Subjects Production Team and a contributor to Cycling – Philosophy for Everyone: A Philosophical Tour de Force (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Media Literacy: A Reader (Peter Lang, 2007), and Collective Action: A Bad Subjects Anthology (Pluto Press, 2004). His writing has also appeared in the journals Mobilities and Social Epistemology, as well as magazines such as Punk Planet and Bitch (forthcoming).  Presently, he is editing a book of scholarly essays on punk, entitled Punkademics, and co-editing a cultural studies collection on the National Football League.

Inaugural Lecture of the Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture (CSPCC)
Department of American Studies, UMBC

Dr. Furness will also be speaking about his book at the
2010 Baltimore Book Festival Radical Bookfair
at Mount Vernon Square Friday, September 24 at 5pm.