Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Public Knowledge and Public Practice: Reinventing the American Studies Program at Miami University

Marguerite S. Shaffer, Mary Kupiec Cayton, Charles Stevens, Peter Williams, Eric J. Sandeen.

This session provides a forum for thinking about public knowledge and public practice in the context of curriculum innovation in the humanities. Focusing on a curriculum initiative undertaken during the 2002-2003 academic year by the Program in American Studies at Miami University, which was supported by a NEH Humanities Focus Grant, participants will examine the role of the humanities in defining and shaping public culture. The Program in American Studies at Miami University is an interdisciplinary program devoted to the critical analysis of the many cultures that come together in the United States. The American Studies curriculum examines the diversity of American culture while also exploring how shared public cultures and collective histories and identities are forged within this diversity. We seek to provide students with scholarly opportunities to explore how they are shaped by American culture, as well as how they can shape that culture. To achieve these goals, we have developed a curriculum that revolves around the concept of “the public.” Session participants will address issues of public culture, public space, public action, and public learning from both the programmatic and theoretical perspective. An outside chair and commentator will moderate a discussion addressing these issues. Through this dialogue, the session will explore the larger conference themes of culture and identity, knowledge as action and action as knowing, and learning as an act of transformation.


Marguerite S. Shaffer  (United States)
Director of American Studies
Program in American Studies College of Arts and Science
Miami University

Maruerite S. Shaffer is the director of American Studies and associate professor of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She is the author of See America First: Tourism and National Identity, 1880-1940 (Smithsonian 2001).

Mary Kupiec Cayton  (United States)

Miami University

Charles Stevens  (United States)

Miami University

Peter Williams  (United States)

Miami University

Eric J. Sandeen  (United States)
Colloquium Chair and Commentator

University of Wyoming

  • Public Culture
  • Public Space
  • Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Public Practice

(90 min. Colloquium, English)