Redrawing History: Taking the Symposium on the Road

Will Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation

Redrawing History Symposium title card

It’s fitting that a project defined by firsts—including the Library Company’s first graphic novel and first Native art exhibition—would also conclude with yet another: our first webinar. Of course, when we planned our closing symposium, we intended for it to happen on-site with panel discussions in our reading room, catering in our Logan room, and ready access to the Ghost River exhibition in our gallery. However, with our closure for the COVID-19 virus, we, like so many others, were compelled to adapt and reimagine our closing symposium.

While I regret not having the opportunity to reconvene our advisors, creative team, and innumerable supporters in-person, Redrawing History: A Library Company Webinar enabled us to highlight other, vital components of the project and to welcome a larger audience than we could possible accommodate at the Library Company.

Let me begin by highlighting just one of those other components: the Ghost River digital edition. Without the need for breaks between sessions, we found that we had time to add an additional panel conversation, “Ghost River Gone Virtual,” during which the creators of the digital edition, Ann McShane and Nicole Scalessa, provided a thoughtful overview of the online edition and the values that animate it. The digital edition was always a vital component of Ghost River because it was intended to offer readers alternative (and free) ways to experience the graphic novel, including a rich digital edition or downloadable versions of the book (in PDF or ePub formats). With the closure of so many of our distribution platforms, the digital edition is now the primary means for new readers to discover Ghost River. While we’re all home-bound, I encourage you to explore and share with your friends and family.

Lee Francis IV taking part in the symposium

The second key advantage of a webinar was that it allowed us to serve a much larger audience. Whereas spatial constraints would have demanded that we cap registrations at 60-80 participants, our webinar license enabled us to serve twice (160!) as many registrants. Perhaps just as important, our platform (Zoom) automatically recorded all three sessions. After some careful editing, our events and programs coordinator, Dayjah Brock uploaded those videos to YouTube in three parts, rendering our webinar accessible to a still greater audience. I invite you to share those videos with friends and family who might not have been able to attend on April 7.

Full video:

Talking in the Library - Square LogoListen to highlights from the symposium on our podcast, Talking in the Library.

The closing symposium was supposed to be a culminating event for the Ghost River project. However, with our shift to online platforms, the project continues to thrive. In next month’s post, I’ll take a closer look at the digital edition, and how you can use it, share it, and even contribute to it, if you’re so moved.