Encyclopedia Virginia has been online for almost 14 years. Recently, we’ve been taking time to think about how and why we do what we do. We have begun to revisit our editorial processes and older entries as we work to tell the inclusive history of Virginia. As a part of that self-reflection, we’re interested in learning from non-historians, who draw on history in their work in surprising and unexpected ways. What is their process for engaging with history? How are they thinking about themselves in relation to history-telling? Why does history matter to them? What are they learning along the way?
We’ve asked archaeologists, artists, and art historians to share their own process for historical engagement. On our social media, they’ll walk us through how they grapple with, think about, play with, and use history to learn more about the human experience. With their variety of backgrounds, the hosts for these takeovers give us a way to see history in relation to the other humanities of philosophy, English, art history, foreign languages, and religious studies. The throughline in these disciplines is that people make sense of their world in ways that cannot be wholly captured by facts and figures. We can draw on humanities’ critical, interpretive, speculative, and analytical methods for increasing knowledge about the material and imaginative worlds that humans live within.
By following these social media takeovers together, we’ll explore the messy and transcendent process of producing historical knowledge. There’s much to learn from how our hosts read evidence against the grain, make sense of conflicting accounts, and sort through divergent perspectives. Our first host will be Marisa Williamson. She’s a project-based artist who works in video, image-making, installation, and performance around themes of history, race, feminism, and technology, and posts about her work and art and its connection to Virginia history.
We’re drawing inspiration from Amiri Baraka’s poem “History As Process” in naming this series #EVHistoryAsProcess. His wrestling with the import of history and naming the intimacy and deeply personal nature of it resonates with the ideas behind this series.
If you’re not already following us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, now is the time. Don’t miss Marisa’s first post on August 25th!
(Image from The Fire (2017) courtesy of Marisa Williamson)
Update: Although the takeover is over, you can still take in Williamson’s posts…
- Day 1: History fuels creativity.
- Day 2: The Ghanaian adinkra symbol of the Sankofa Bird is a reminder to “go back to the past and bring forward that which is useful.”
- Day 3: Thomas Jefferson is frequently praised as a planter of ideological and actual seeds in America.
- Day 4: Many of EVs entries about the shoal approach it from the colonist’s point of view.
- Day 5: Unsettling Grounds is an augmented reality scavenger hunt through the historic Charlottesville Woolen Mills industrial site in Albemarle County’s Broadway Corridor.