In this interview, #bsuenglish professor Patrick Collier discusses his Virginia Ball Center seminar “Everyday Life in Middletown.”
What did the project entail?
These Virginia Ball seminars are semester-long projects where students get up to 15 credits for their participation, the teacher gets a fellowship, and that gets him or her out of teaching responsibility or any other responsibility on campus. The subject of the seminar was “Everyday Life in Middletown.” Middletown, I assume you know, is Muncie. There’s this history of Muncie being referred to as Middletown since the ’20s when the Lynds did their sociological study in Muncie and it became a national best-seller.
BSU English would like to invite you to a talk given by Gary Younge. The event will take place on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 pm in 104 Bracken. Copies of Mr. Younge’s book will be available for purchase, and he will be holding a book signing at the event.
Gary Younge is a British journalist and an editor-at-large for The Guardian. He is covering the U.S. election from Muncie in a series of articles called “The View from Middletown.” Mr. Younge has also made several radio and television documentaries on subjects ranging from the tea party to hip hop culture.
You may have heard of “What Middletown Read,” a database project that Dr. Frank Felsenstein has been working on for several years and that makes available for study library records from the Muncie Public Library–the database compiles records of what books were checked out from the library from the years 1891 to 1902. For more information on the project, you can check out this article. Now that the database has been made available to the public, the project has received national attention in several prominent publications. John Plotz’s article, “This Book is 119 Years Overdue: The Wondrous Database That Reveals What Americans Checked Out of the Library a Century Ago,” appeared in Slate online in November of last year. Later in the month, the project was featured in the Sunday Book Review section of the New York Times–you can click on the link below to read Anne Trubek’s article, entitled “What Muncie Read.” This article seeks to examine the reading habits and trends of America’s “most average town” in an effort to prove that even in our emerging digital age, America reads in much the same way it did generations ago. Check out the full articles from Slate and the New York Times below.
New York Times: