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“Old Stuff”

It’s such fun when students’ affinities echo comments from various spaces in a professor’s life.  In one of my current classes, a student revealed during a recent introductory visit to the college archives that they like “old stuff.”  And this morning, I heard a colleague from the Wheaton College Department of Art and Art History interviewed in an NPR story about a local repository of “old stuff,” the Providence Athanaeum.

As I listened to my colleague and his partner describe the vintage items they were sporting as they attended an event at the Athanaeum, I discovered one reason the student’s reference to “old stuff” prompted my smile.  The affinity is one I share with many people in my life.  More than one member of my family feels a deep fondness for things that remind us of and connect us to the past.

Certainly, my own practices as a historian are firmly grounded in a sometime-fault that Jill Lepore once denoted the vice of “historians who love too much.” And on campus, my colleague from Art History is hosting a faculty salon focused on the place of the personal in our professional research and writing.

As these events converge with an opportunity I had last week to share my own pride and pleasure in the practices of digital scholarship at Wheaton College with visiting members of our Board of Trustees, I feel again sincere appreciation for the privileges that come with doing work I love.

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