The role of the scholar cannot really be divorced from the public in the 21st century. Academic face scrutiny whether they pursue a public voice or not. The question becomes what kind of public voice will you have and how will it intersect with your job. As the diagram from Carlton College highlights, the landscape for public scholarship incorporates many kinds of engagements with multiple audiences. This can extremely helpful as we think about academic production. In a public scholarship framework, the knowledge you create as a scholar and the means that use to share it work in tandem to create understanding.
As I think about MSU's digital ecosystem, I realize I need to think about the things I do in a broad landscape and look toward holistic analysis that weaves the experience of the local into global questions. The venues for publication I should pursue should allow me to create a range of scholarly objects that offers analysis and critical reflection that clarify the relationship between everyday life and the global experience. I should be, in my mind, looking at journals and publishers that provide the opportunity to do interesting things. Southern Spaces is the perfect example.
Described as "a peer-reviewed, multimedia, open-access journal published by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. We publish articles, photo essays and images, reviews, presentations, and short videos about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections. We intend our audience to be researchers and teachers, students in and out of classrooms, library patrons, and interested readers."
I've been drawn to them for several reasons, but one of the wide variety of publications they support. Reviewing the submission pages, I saw the photo essay and other multimedia. They describe it as..."Photo essays curate collections of original photography or other multimedia to perform the same kinds of critical work articles do: to analyze real and imagined places and spaces in the US South, to make connections between the South and other areas of the world, and to challenge conventional representations of the South. While primarily photographic or media-based, these essays include a critical writing component."
This is intriguing to me, especially as I consider Eatonville. Known in contemporary culture as the home of Zora Neale Hurston, Eatonville is the first incorporated African-American municipality in the United States. One of several communities created after the Civil War, Eatonville and communities like it was a response to white racism. Eatonville's creation and its cultural ethos deeply informed Hurston's outlook. Yet, contemporary Eatonville is hidden in plain sight in mind. How the community persists and the challenge to sustain itself in the 21st century are questions worth exploring.
Can I make document this through mediate projects in a manner that demonstrated critical assessment and knowledge creation in a manner that represents scholarly public work? What is the best medium to do it? Looking at Southern Spaces and thinking about my own critical making practice has prompted me to start thinking about making photo essays that are rooted in questions of culture and community in Eatonville.