On Wednesday, 25 May 2016, Fulbright Scholar Dr. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello (Associate Professor; Salem State University, MA, U.S.) will give a talk entitled:
Redefining Community in Modernizing America: Cultural Production, Social Scientific Thought and Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street
The talk will take place in Room 308 (upstairs) at 19:15 pm.
How did American ideas about and experiences of “community” shift in the era of massive immigration, industrialization and urbanization and why? What role did activity in the cultural sphere play in reflecting and shaping these shifts? What were the links between communal identities and political, demographic and economic forces in the past, and what can we learn for our own era? Drawing from her current book project, Bonds of Fellowship: Redefining Community in Modernizing America, Duclos-Orsello will discuss the broad contours of her interest in the links between cultural production, social science, the pressures of industrial capitalism, and a shifting understanding of the concept of “community”— particularly in urban places in the opening years of 20th century in the US. Looking briefly at her project's questions and scope as well as a range of cultural products and production in one middle-western city, her focus will be on a new interpretation of Sinclair Lewis’ blockbuster 1920 novel Main Street, exploring its engagement with contemporary social scientific discourse, and its ability to articulate— in a moment of dramatic transformation— a shift away from 19th century understandings of place-based, emotional connections as the basis for something called community. The new limits and possibilities for “community” in America were on display in this novel.
Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello is a publicly-engaged interdisciplinary scholar/social-justice activist with nearly twenty years of experience in the higher education, museum, social service, K-12, service-learning and cultural sectors in both the US and Europe. She is currently an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Coordinator of American Studies and an affiliated Faculty with the Center for Economic Development and Sustainability at Salem State University (Salem, MA) where she served as the founding Fellow for Service-Learning from 2011-2015. At Salem State she has developed and taught numerous interdisciplinary courses for students in general education, history, literature, art history and American Studies programs. Many of these courses include service-learning or transnational/global emphases. Since 2010 has led numerous university-wide change initiatives related to General Education revision, Civic Engagement, Strategic Planning and Comprehensive Internationalization. Her scholarly work—much of it public-facing—relates to the intersections of gender, ethnicity, immigration, religion, place-making and the cultural construction of community. Recent publications and grant-funded work explore Catholic women’s activism, the concept of shared authority in community-based museum work, and the construction of Franco-American gender identity in contemporary drama. She is currently at work on a book titled Bonds of Fellowship: Redefining Community in Modernizing America. In addition to Salem State she has taught at Harvard University, The University of Luxembourg and Boston University. In addition, she has worked as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, a museum educator, a writing and theater instructor, and as Director of complex federally-funded projects to train K-12 educators using museums and historic sites as texts. She is a sought after consultant to museums and historic sites, is a two-time Fulbright Scholar (Luxembourg 2010; Greece 2016), and a Whiting Fellow (Cote D’Ivoire 2015). In 2015 she was inducted into Salem State University’s Civic Engagement Hall of Fame for her commitment to social justice and engagement in her teaching, scholarship and service. She sits on the Board of Trustees of a number of community groups, among others, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the North Shore CDC and previously, the House of the Seven Gables. She regularly blogs about and offers public testimony regarding the value of the humanities for civil society. Between 2011-2014 she chaired the American Studies Association’s (ASA) Committee on Departments, Programs and Centers and she currently chairs the ASA’s Taskforce on American Studies in Higher Education which she has chaired since 2015. She holds a BA in History and Sociology and a Ph.D. in American Studies.