Sarah’s current and past collaborative projects affiliate with promising public humanities approaches. Grounded in sustained partnerships with diverse stakeholders, these programs have supported community building while creatively countering divisive trends in society today. Examples spotlighted below share information about initiatives where Sarah has served in a major leadership role.
How can we promote a shared sense of community through conversations grounded in social issues associated with our own homeplaces? Writing Home brings together leaders from multiple American community settings to carry out theme-based inquiry on the personal and site-based histories in a particular homeplace. Blending research-based study of a homeplace’s history with writing and dialogue, Writing Home capitalizes on the energy, vision, and expertise of educators affiliated with the National Writing Project.
How can we foster intercultural skills among today’s university students? Living in an increasingly globalized society—yet also regularly encountering negative messages about people with backgrounds different from their own—undergraduates need learning opportunities that help them develop sustained relationships with peers from around the world while they explore global issues together. GlobalEX, a co-curricular program for which Sarah has served as the founding faculty advisor, cultivates collaborative learning through a three-stage experience of EXplore, EXchange, and EXtend. GlobalEX draws on the benefit of having many international students attending US universities today and the eagerness of their counterparts from around the US to learn about diverse cultures while sharing knowledge about their own communities too.
How can we develop meaningful connections across all stages of learning about modern languages, writing, and literature? The Modern Language Association (MLA), a major academic professional organization for teacher-scholars in these fields, is committed to supporting initiatives to build such connections. Through its committee on K-16 Alliances (which Sarah is chairing for 2017-20), the MLA is developing partnerships and programming to support teaching, learning, and informed advocacy around important educational issues today. One way to track the work of the MLA is to join the MLA Commons. To tap into resources created by the working group that led to formation of the K-16 committee, visit their archive in the commons.
How can faculty members and students link their study of transatlantic culture in the long nineteenth century to generative trends in this burgeoning academic field? Sarah has been collaborating with a number of teacher-scholars to explore this question through shared learning in seminar offerings and publication of both print and online resources. Currently, Sarah is working with co-editors Andrew Taylor and Linda Hughes, as well as associate editors Heidi Hakimi-Hood and Adam Nemmers, on a new anthology of primary texts, tentatively entitled Transatlantic Anglophone Literatures, 1776-1920.
Keeping and Creating American Communities (KCAC)
How can inquiry-based study of the places where we live enhance our capacities for interdisciplinary learning and active citizenship? Keeping and Creating American Communities, a multi-year program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Writing Project, nurtured the civic engagement abilities of teachers and their students in a range of classroom settings across northwest Georgia while providing models for adaptation in other regions. Using five thematic strands, KCAC first enabled teams of teachers to create new curriculum along with their students and then sponsored community events and programs to extend that new knowledge to diverse audiences. Teachers affiliated with the KCAC initiative published two books about their work: Writing America and Writing Our Communities.
Women’s Work in the Long Nineteenth Century
How can we draw on the power of visual culture to learn about American women’s work in the long nineteenth century? Beginning in the late 1990s and then moving into the early 2000s, Sarah collaborated with historian Ann Pullen to teach a series of courses on the differing kinds of “work” experiences among US women living in that prior era. Ann and Sarah capitalized on funding from several sources to gather together an archive of images depicting women’s labor—ranging from then-sanctioned domestic labor across varying social classes to more radical attempts by women to use collaborative work for political intervention, as in the temperance movement. Undergraduate students enrolled in these courses collaborated with Sarah and Ann to create curricular materials that invite website visitors to do historically informed rhetorical analysis of images from this Women’s Work archive.