Ruth Bienstock Anolik
Adjunct Professor of English Literature & Western Culture
Associate Professor of History & Director, Center for Public History
I am a public historian who specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States cultural history. My research typically cuts across three fields: material culture studies, memory studies, and Public History. Simply put, I study how Americans have used objects over time—in museums, historical preservation, monument building, and in other contexts—to exert control over how all of us understand the past. Moreover, like other public historians working within universities, I study how historical meaning is made in public contexts by participating in history projects alongside community stakeholders. In all cases, my research seeks to answer questions such as: Why do we choose to remember some pasts and not others? Who decides what is remembered? How do those decisions influence our beliefs about nation and democracy? How are they reinforced over time? How are they challenged?
Kenneth Finkel is in Temple University’s American Studies Program. He received a Masters Degree in the History of Art at Temple. Before joining Temple as a Distinguished Lecturer in the Spring of 2008, Finkel held various positions in Philadelphia’s cultural community: Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Program Officer at the William Penn Foundation, and most recently, Executive Director of Arts & Culture Service at WHYY. Publications include seven books and catalogues on 19th-century photography, graphics, and architecture with a focus on Philadelphia as a center of creativity. Finkel’s first book: Nineteenth-Century Photography in Philadelphia was published in 1980. Other published worked include the early 19th-century sketchbooks of Joshua Rowley Watson and the Pennsylvania Railroad photographs of William H. Rau. Finkel revived the almanac format with the publication of The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens’ Manual for 1994 and 1995. Finkel has served on various boards and committees, including the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Mount Airy USA (CDC), the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts and the Conflict Interest Standing Committee at the University of Pennsylvania.
He is currently on the advisory council at the Wagner Free Institute of Science. At WHYY, Finkel executive produced seven national television productions; including several regional Emmy award winners. Productions include the opening the Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center For the Performing Arts, a documentary for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, the ongoing Showcase on 91FM (a weekly two-hour classical music program) and Experience on TV and the web (26 videos each year featuring cultural destinations), and On Canvas (a weekly performing arts television program). An occasional cultural commentator on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s op-ed page, Finkel also launched WHYY’s Arts & Culture blog, The Sixth Square, first with an information campaign about Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic, at the time of its pending sale, and subsequently on several issues of cultural interesting, including the Underground Railroad episode of Jane Johnson’s escape at Penn’s Landing. Ken Finkel Tweets at http://twitter.com/kenfinkel.
Professor of English & American Studies
Miles Orvell is Professor of English and American studies, with a broad interest in modern American culture. He has taught courses on technology and culture, cities and suburbs, the arts in America, documentary film, and American photography. In the last six years, Orvell has focused his research on the cultural meaning of place, and he has co-edited a collection of essays, Public Space and the Ideology of Place in American Culture (Rodopi, 2009). He recently completed an interdisciplinary study called, Main Street: Myth, Memory, and the Dream of Community (2012), which recovers the complex and contradictory cultural meanings of the small town at the same time that it problematizes the icon of Main Street. Orvell has published on a wide range of literary subjects, including a book on Flannery O’Connor, and essays on Willa Cather, William Faulkner, and Theodore Dreiser.
His The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 1880-1940 deals with literature, photography, and material culture, and was co-winner in 1990 of the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Publication Prize. Orvell’s work in visual culture includes After the Machine: Visual Arts and the Erasing of Cultural Boundaries (1995), and John Vachon’s America: Photographs and Letters from the Depression to World War II (2003); he has also written a history of photography in the United States–American Photography–for the Oxford History of Art Series (2003). Orvell has presented papers and lectured widely at conferences and universities in the U.S. and Europe and was a Fulbright Professor of American Studies in Denmark (1988). He has directed six N.E.H. Summer Seminars for School Teachers—on Documentary Expression in the Thirties and on Ethnic Autobiography. Active in the American Studies Association, Orvell served as Editor in Chief of the Encyclopedia of American Studies Online, published by Johns Hopkins University Press from 2004 to 2011. In 2009, he received the Bode-Pearson Prize for lifetime achievement, awarded by the American Studies Association, and in 2010 received one of the University’s “Great Teacher” awards.