Summer at the Fringe

Hey guys, I’m Miriam, and this summer I’m interning at FringeArts, funded by the good ol’ Hurford Center.


So at work the other day I drew bunnies.

Yep, interning at FringeArts involves many tasks, and one of those tasks is bunny-drawing.

FringeArts is a performing arts organization in Philadelphia, best known for their annual Fringe Festival in September. There’s gonna be some crazy stuff, guys. I definitely recommend that you venture out of your Haver-homes (I know, they’re so cozy, but just this once!) and trek into the city to see some performances.

So what am I doing at the Fringe? Certainly not acting—though my starring role as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a hit in the elementary school theater community. No, once you cease being a cute ten-year-old you must start relying on real skills, and acting is not one of mine. I work more behind the scenes, as the Guide & Information Management Intern. (I know, super descriptive title, now you know exactly what I do.) I help create and edit the Festival guide, which lists all the shows and where to find them. (Basically, I’m writing this book but for the performing arts.) I also blog for FringeArts, which means I get to interview some really interesting people and learn about the performing arts in Philadelphia.

But I know, this is not why you’re all here. You’re just waiting with bated breath: “where, Miriam, where do the bunnies come in?!” I don’t blame you, bunnies are awesome. Well, occasionally I get to draw something for the Festival guide, and one such drawing was an image for the play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. I won’t post the finalized drawing here—you know, gotta keep up that element of mystery—but the above image shows some of my sketches.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. I’ll be back later in the summer, ready to overuse parentheses in the name of the Hurford Center once more!

–Miriam Hwang-Carlos

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Sandy Tripods

DIY "crane shot"

DIY “crane shot”

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have drifted to the far corners of our collective memory, but its impacts are still being felt along the affected region of the Gulf Coast. From Pensacola to New Orleans, there continue to be environmental, economic, and sociopolitical consequences that have often escaped the attention of those not directly involved in the aftermath of the spill.

Through the Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellowship, the four of us, Hilary Brashear, Dan Fries, Gebby Keny, Sarah Moses, have had the opportunity to travel down to the Gulf Coast. Following Prof. Helen White and her two chemistry students, Alana Thurston and Chloe Wang, we traveled from Pensacola, FL to Gulfport, MS to New Orleans, LA as they collected samples of oil that continue to wash up along the shore. Rain or shine (mostly shine…hot shine) Helen, Alana, and Chloe marched forward on their search as we chased them with our cameras. Their discerning eyes were quite impressive, finding the tiniest of oil samples among the decoy debris (much to our chagrin, whenever we tried to help we just picked up wood chips).

One of the oil samples collected on the trip

One of the oil samples collected on the trip

Running after Helen in the blazing heat consists of only part of our documentation this summer. Together, we are developing a short film about the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill that explores questions of restoration and voice, while examining our own role as outsiders to the region and the issues at hand.

We return to the Gulf in July, focusing our efforts primarily on New Orleans. To be continued… 


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An Interactive Flood of Spectacular Proportions

Synchronous Objects

Remember when God said to Noah, “be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”?  God’s probably being redundant in his phrasing because it’s such a big thing to ask of someone.  It’s not just a casual, “go ahead and populate your household, when you get around to it.”  Noah is expected to “populate the earth abundantly.”  The earth is enormous, and Noah probably thought the earth was flat and like fifty miles wide, but it’s still an intense concept to wrap your mind around.

So it was, when history professor Andrew Friedman told me, “be fruitful and search for web-based digital humanities initiatives; catalog them abundantly and comment upon them.”  Not in those words exactly, though he is eloquent.

My summer job is essentially to track down as many DH projects as I can, dump them all into an Excel document, and judge them mercilessly based on a rubric invented for this very task.  I annotate the Project Name, URL, and Creators of course.  Then I go on to rate each project by the following criteria: Richness of Aesthetics/Design; Usability/Navigability/Ease; FUN; Value of Information; and Theoretical Interest.  After all this, I write a small blurb of closing commentary.  I do this for hours each day, and I still haven’t cracked the surface.  It is a good job, and often a dull job.

I have a secret for you.  Come closer.  I’m not supposed to say this, so I can’t be too loud.  Are you ready?

Digital Humanities is mostly rubbish.

I may have just offended thousands of librarians and Spanish teachers, but I stand by the claim.  I find myself skeptical of DH.  Many times, the projects are so eager to hop on board with digital initiatives (since they are hyped as the future of academia) that they don’t think critically about why their project belongs on the World Wide Web, what it means to work on a web-based platform, and how that is substantively different than more traditional humanistic inquiry.  The prevailing sentiment of the movement (or one of them) is form over function–the idea that projects are automatically better because they’re on the internet–and that can lead to hollow experiences.

But that happens with every new medium–the inception is riddled with hiccups and false starts as we puny humans scramble to figure out how we can best take advantage of the tools we have made for ourselves.  Besides, I have to acknowledge that it’s easy for me to pass judgment on these projects, sitting comfortably on the sidelines.  I’m not even a DH guy, really.  Computers aren’t my thing.  I just keep getting involved in DH criticism as an outside eye.  I guess my point is, I still respect these DH initiatives, even the wrongheaded ones, because they are attempting to bring knowledge to the world in new ways.  Every project is worth talking about, even if it’s only as an example of what-not-to-do.

I ought to end this post on a positive note, so I’ll share with you my favorite project that I’ve encountered so far.  It’s called Synchronous Objects.  The website begins with a fifteen minute long video of a dance called One Flat Thing as reproduced by William Forsythe.  From there, it uses its digital platform to let the user interact with that dance in all sorts of visually compelling and horizon-expanding ways.  This is a project fully aware of its medium, fully aware of its content, and fully aware of the potential living in the interstices between the two.  Play around with it for a while.

As wary as I am about DH projects, I would never tell Synchronous Objects to build an ark and gather two of every species of DH in preparation for my destruction of the medium in an interactive flood of spectacular proportions.  That seems excessive.  Besides, I’m not even close to finished finding what contemporary digital humanists have to offer.  I have a whole world to explore.

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Amancay Internship- Links Hall in Chicago


My self-designed summer internship at Links Hall in Chicago started last week, and already I’m feeling useful. Starting on June 19th Links Hall is presenting their original production, River See, so it’s all hands on deck. So far, I’ve created unique and personal welcome packets for all the out-of-town performers that will be visiting, updated information about the show on their mobile app, and helped to organize ticket sales for students and industry members. I’ve also had a few side projects related to future shows, mostly involving the mobile app and emailing performers for information about their shows. It’s been fun so far, and I’m learning a lot about marketing for now. I expect once the show is over I’ll start learning about other areas of theater management.

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Throwback Thursday 11

Hi guys! It’s Thursday again, and today we’re talking about an art show in James House.


The HCAH Student Arts Fund enables a variety of artistic endeavors, including the mounting of exhibitions. In April 2009, James House displayed work by Ryan Cameron, ’09, and Allyn Gaestel, ’09, in the exhibition, Nudes, featuring work from both artists spanning the past year. The exhibit included paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs that tip-toed the line between the artistic and the pornographic. The visitors and artist discussed this dynamic on the opening night.

While James House looks nothing like it did in the photos above, the building still hosts exciting students arts events. This Friday, come to James House for another Student Arts Fund exhibition, “A Terrarium of Books: New Work by Honglan Huang.” Honglan Huang, ’16, has created a system of interacting texts and plants in the James House Pop-Up Gallery. Andrew Szczureck, ’16, will perform an original composition at the opening, so be there tomorrow, April 18th at 7:00 PM!

For more information on “A Terrarium of Books,” see:

Hope to see you there!

Anna and Miriam


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Throwback Thursday 10

Whazzup, peeps?

Back this week with a Student Seminar. Lucky for you, the HCAH has just released next fall’s student seminars, so read on and think about how awesome your fall could be.



Lewis Bauer (’06 English) led the seminar, “The Bizarre and the Grotesque in Literature, Art, and Film: Honest Looks at a Mad World,” to explore our cultural idealization of normality and the repercussions of deviation. Participants discussed not only the impact of the bizarre and grotesque on the arts, but also on society. Questions of cultural relativism recurred throughout the seminar.

James Weissinger (’06 English), participated in the seminar and reflects: “Taussig, Ballard, Foucault, Bakhtin, Kassler-Taub–the seminar introduced me to a few folks who would end up becoming familiar friends for the rest of school and after. One of my most important experiences at Haverford.”  To sum up the fantastic ride that was the seminar, James points to this bizarre music video:

If you’re interested in cross-disciplinary discussions with new friends while munching on free refreshments and reading free books, apply to one of the upcoming seminars: “Decoding the Videogame: Reading and Writing in New Media,” or “Beyond the Reals: An Exploration of Mathematics in Fiction.” More information: (sorry this hyperlink didn’t hyperlink, back to the good ol’ days of copy and paste it is).

Hope to see lots of applications this year!

Until next time,

Anna and Miriam




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Throwback Thursday 9

Welcome to another Thursday! Today we’re talking about the symposium, “Romancing Passing – Race, Gender, and Nation in Cinema.”

The cover of the Indian romantic drama "Veer-Zaara"

The cover of the Indian romantic drama “Veer-Zaara”

In the second year of a Mellon Fellowship, each fellow stages a symposium or forum relating to their area of study. Yiman Wang was the Mellon Fellow from 2003-2005 and researched transregional and transnational image translation, particularly the relationship between film in China and the West. She presented this symposium to explore themes of racial, ethnic, and gender passing processes as portrayed in cinematic romance. Visiting experts ran panels entitled “Romance, Horror, and Globalization,” “Coding Hollywood Asians,” and “Dystopia and Utopia of the Passing Body,” followed by a roundtable discussion.

Curiosity piqued? Read about more Mellon Symposia here:

Until next time!

Anna and Miriam

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Throwback Thursday 8

Hi, y’all! It’s that time of week again! Today we’re going to take a look at one of the past courses sponsored by the center.



The course, “The Spirit and the Psyche: Spiritualism, Symbolism, Surrealism,” compared  three artistic movements (Spiritualism in England in the mid 1800s, Symbolism in France in the late 1800s, and Surrealism in France in the 1920s and 30s) and their relationships with the supernatural and the psychological.

Rachel K. Oberter, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, guided the class through readings ranging from psychological treatises to artists’ and writers’ memoirs to Surrealist manifestos. The students also attempted their own “automatic drawing,” a technique used in both Spiritualism and Surrealism where the artist enters a trance-like state and draws, guided by the supernatural or the subconscious.

To see other HCAH sponsored courses, follow the link:

See you next week!

–Anna and Miriam

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Throwback Thursday 7

Hey guys! We’re back with another Throwback Thursday. Today’s topic: Dialogues on Art.

Doug and Mike’s Adult Entertainment, 1991-98

Doug and Mike’s Adult Entertainment, 1991-98

In this Dialogues on Art trip, a group of faculty and students went to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see the exhibit, “Mike’s World: Michael Smith & Joshua White (and other collaborators)” and then discussed the experience over a meal. The exhibit consisted of video, installation, and performance work from the 30 year career of artists Michael Smith and Joshua White, and centered around an average Joe character called “Mike,” who is befuddled by the technological advancement and rapid change in society.

Find out more about the center’s Dialogues on Art below:

We’ll be back week after next with another Throwback Thursday. Enjoy your spring break!

–Anna and Miriam



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Throwback Thursday 6

Hello again! We’re back with this semester’s series of Throwback Thursdays.



This week, we’re talking about a student seminar called “Mining the Folktale,” led by Justin Dainer-Best ’09 (English, Psychology). The seminar delved into questions such as what constitutes a folktale and what purpose they serve. Participants drew from a variety of cultures, comparing structuralist readings to Grimm’s fairytales and to the Russian Baba Yaga. The seminar produced an air of camaraderie and mutual interest among the students, according to a participant.

To find out more about student seminars, follow this link:

Until next week!

–Anna and Miriam

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