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  Now, with four days between myself and Carleton College’s HumLab, with time to process my work and to admire mine and my co-collaborators’ final products, I feel ready to assess! Although I am biased, I’m very happy with my own piece of our larger project.  (Which can be found here.)  I feel like the 50+ hours I put into my map show; creating it was truly a labor of love.  I’m also vicariously proud of everyone else’s products, as I understand how tedious and difficult using a world-mapping software can be for mapping mythological places. Having finished this project, I’m now contemplating how Neatline could be used in classroom settings.  Because the software is so, so specific, unless you’ve used Neatline before, the program requires several hours to learn.  Unless a professor has room in their syllabus to devote at least one class to learning the software’s nuts and bolts, I feel that Neatline needs to be relegated to the realm of final projects: if a professor enjoys assigning more creative finals, outside of papers or exams, making a Neatline map could serve as one option for students. Would I encourage the proponents of this summer’s HumLab to do another, maybe next summer?  Yes–I very much enjoyed my lab and being able to “take home” a “tangible” product.  Would I encourage students of Classics and other disciplines to attend the next HumLab?  Yes–especially humanities students, who don’t often get that “tangible” result from semester courses.  Usually, our products are reformed ideas, the takeaway of conversations between our peers and professors and between ourselves and texts, formalized in papers and exams.  Neatline...
The Art of Connecting Artifacts and Maps

The Art of Connecting Artifacts and Maps

Kristine Mallinson, Denison University Class of 2015 When I first heard about the 2014 Alliance for the Advancement of Liberal Arts Colleges Humanities Lab at Carleton, I was not exactly sure what the program was going to be like. I knew that  there was going to be a group of students from different liberal arts schools examining Classical mythology in different ways. One group was going to be focusing on masks and the other on maps. I was particularly interested in the mapping mythology program. To my delight, I was accepted into that program. So, on Sunday August 10th I arrived in Minnesota for the first time excited to get started and learn more about what we would be doing. The first morning we discussed Euripides Heracles and different aspects about the play. Then we split into our different groups. In my group, Dr. Bryan Burns (our director) taught us how to use several different databases and explained that we would be using Omeka and Neatline. Now, I have never used these two programs and one should know that I am pretty bad with technology, however he said that they were simple programs. Omeka is the artifact database, or at least that is how I like to think about it. Working at the Denison Museum during the school year and interning at the Toledo Museum of Art for a couple weeks this summer provided me with a good amount of experience working with different databases and  artifacts. I  was immediately interested and fascinated with the idea of using artifacts on a digital map to examine literary accounts. I have decided...
On losing eyelashes for the sake of scholarship and art

On losing eyelashes for the sake of scholarship and art

On Sunday afternoon, eleven students from liberal arts colleges across the country arrived at Carleton College for the inaugural AALAC* Humanities Lab. My lab, “Mask, Character & Myth,” is investigating the function of masks in Greek tragedy. For modern audiences accustomed to small, indoor theaters and the close-up shots made possible in cinema, masks can seem like an obstacle for actors to overcome. Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni summarized this view in the eighteenth century: “The actor must, in our days, possess a soul; and the soul under a mask is like fire under ashes.” The Greeks, however, found tragedy deeply moving, masks and all — it certainly did not seem “soulless” to them. How, then, can we imagine masks, not as a hindrance, but as a catalyst for creativity? Each of the five members of my lab has chosen a research specialty to explore; mine is the differences between masks for chorus members and those for main actors. Eric Csapo observes that in artistic representations of the theater, chorus members are more clearly identifiable as “actors,” whereas members of the main cast are often subsumed into their new, mythical identity. Consider, for example, the famous Pronomos vase: Most of the chorus members are talking to each other while holding their masks, officially out of character. The Heracles actor, however, is labelled “Heracles” and, even though his mask is off, it looks just like his actual face; he has no distinct identity of his own. Are mythical figures like Heracles so strong that they overpower their actors’ own identities? How might the mask’s influence over its wearer change, depending on whether...
gods, and masks, and murders, oh my!

gods, and masks, and murders, oh my!

  The first week of the Hum Lab: A Consortial Workshop is coming to a close.  We arrived in the land of ten thousand lakes as a motley, enthusiastic crew of students from various liberal arts colleges and of various majors, bound together only by our shared reading of Euripede’s Heracles and a general confusion about what would we could and would produce over the course of an intensive, two week, collaborative working period.  Many research articles, Google Docs, and plaster molds later, and our projects are beginning to (literally) take shape. Half of us are working on contextualizing and recreating tragic masks of the sort that would have been utilized in 5th century B.C.E. Athenian theater; tragedies were all performed in mask. There is not a whole lot of information running around about this, but some visual evidence remains in vase-paintings (especially the famous Pronomos Vase) and texts (the often-quoted, but dubiously reliable descriptions of the origins of drama that Aristotle writes, for one). There is also a significant amount of contemporary scholarship about the symbolism and purpose of tragic masks, exploring everything from the meaning of a frontal gaze, the possibility that masks protect the actor and spectators from the spiritual and moral pollution of the atrocities portrayed in the tragedies, and the role of ambiguous facial features in the perception of human emotion.  While these and some other, more technical questions (i.e.: can spectators see the features of a mask at the distance that would have been typically between a viewer and the performing space in the 5th century B.C.E.) will be tested once we have our masks, my own particular...
Mapping myth at Carleton College

Mapping myth at Carleton College

Thanks to Haverford’s own Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities and Carleton College’s humanities center, eleven students are currently spending two weeks at Carleton, located in Northfield, Minnesota to participate in the HumLab: A Consortial Workshop. I’m woking on mapping the interlocking myths of Jason, the Argonauts, and Medea and linking these intertwined stories to both material and mythical spaces and ancient artifacts.  I’m using Omeka to catalogue the artifacts I want to use to tell this story, and Neatline to map it into both our world and that of Greek myth.  Here’s a behind-the-scenes screenshot of my project thus...