Penn State Harrisburg marks 15 years of the American studies doctoral program

The program's anniversary will be celebrated with a daylong symposium on April 6 on campus
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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Humanities will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its American studies doctoral program with a symposium titled “American Studies in Public: Justice, Meaning, and Community Engagement” on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Morrison Gallery, Madlyn Hanes Library on campus.

For 15 years, the American studies doctoral program has seen its graduates become faculty members at colleges and universities, historians, museum curators, government and public policy officials, leaders of cultural institutions and archivists.

The School of Humanities will celebrate these achievements by inviting alumni from the doctoral and master’s programs in American studies who work in academic and public humanities settings, as well as current graduate students, to gather to discuss their work in engaging communities and the broader public through the study of history and culture.

Amy K. Milligan, a 2012 graduate of the doctoral program, will serve as the keynote speaker. Her address, “Witnessing History: Civil Rights and the Jewish Community of Selma, Alabama," will explore the history of Jewish life in Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement, problematizing the assumption that Jewish Selmians experienced the marches and Bloody Sunday in the same way as other citizens. Through ethnography, oral history and folkloric analysis, Milligan captures the narratives retold by the community, explores a complex and nuanced history, and probes the question of how memory and legacy can be molded and shaped through truth telling for communities with troublesome histories, offering a story much larger than that of a single synagogue.

Milligan is the Batten Endowed associate professor of Jewish studies and women's and gender studies and the director of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University (ODU). She is an ethnographer and folklorist who specializes in the study of small or marginalized Jewish communities with a concentration on the American South and Alabama. Milligan also serves on the leadership committee of ODU's Jewish Caucus for faculty and staff and as the faculty mentor for ODU Hillel, the Jewish student organization. Read more about Milligan here.

Penn State Harrisburg’s doctoral program provides students with a broad look at America through national and international lenses, with areas of research including history, politics and cultural studies; literature and popular culture; folklore and ethnography; visual and material culture; regional and urban studies; and public history and museum studies. Intersected with these areas are historic and contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and class.

The symposium will cover this broad area of scholarship with panel discussions led by faculty, experts, alumni and current students. Panels include:

  • "American Studies in the Field: Folklore, Ethnography, and the Environment," 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.
  • "American Studies in Public: Museums, Heritage, and Public Humanities," 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • "Unearthing New Narratives: Graduate Students Reimagining American Studies," 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
  • "Engaging Pennsylvania’s Communities through Public Heritage and History," 3 to 4:15 p.m.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Register to attend here.