Tell About the South: Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Wednesday, February 26 at 12:30
Please join us at the Center for a discussion with Anne Mitchell Whisnant, who will share her work, “Taking Another Look: Digital Views of the Blue Ridge Parkway.” Lunch will be provided.
Dr. Whisnant will discuss how her research on America’s most visited national park has evolved over the twenty-three years since she started studying the road back in 1991. In particular, she will share ways in which the digital revolution has recast what began as a conventional, single-scholar project, culminating in her book Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History (UNC Press, 2006). Drawing upon her recent experience as the scholarly advisor to Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway, an online portal to Parkway history, she will demonstrate how digital tools enable us to better visualize the ways conflicts over land purchases, routing, and Parkway access and use have shaped (and continue to buffet) the park. Speaking briefly about using these digital tools in her teaching, Whisnant will also suggest how a digital approach can help students understand that rather than being inevitable, the past was contingent—always unfolding in unexpected ways as people make difficult decisions among many viable options. A digitized Blue Ridge Parkway can allow exploration of these decision points, a process that can empower us as actors in the present who can mold the future.
Anne Mitchell Whisnant is Deputy Secretary of the Faculty and Adjunct Associate Professor of History and American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her teaching, research, consulting, and writing focus on public history, digital history, and the history of the U.S. National Parks. She has served as co-principal historian on several National Park Service projects, including an administrative history of De Soto National Memorial and a Historic Resource Study of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Most recently, she chaired a task force commissioned by the Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service to study the state of historical practice within the Park Service. Its report, Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service, was published in 2012.