- Haverford College: "Cool Classes: Visual Histories of the Civil Rights Movement"
- Haverford College: "Cool Classes: Philadelphia Freedoms: Cultural Landscapes and Civic Ideals"
- Haverford College: "The Berlin Wall Inspires Paul Farber’s Exhibit And Haverford Teaching"
- Haverford College: "Monument Lab Inspires At City Hall"
- Decentered Blog, Haverford College: Student Profile
- City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program: "Introducing Paul Farber, Mural Arts’ First Scholar-in-Residence"
- Interview Excerpt from New York Times' Learning Network, "Get Ready for College Writing by Learning to Revise"
Recent Course Descriptions
Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Haverford College
How to Build a Monument
Fall 2016 – History 308
On February 21, 1885, at the dedication of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital, Senator John Sherman declared: “the Monument speaks for itself–simple in form, admirable in proportion, composed of enduring marble and granite, resting upon foundations broad and deep, it rises into the skies higher than any other work of human art. It is the most imposing, costly and appropriate monument ever erected to the memory of one man.” Sherman’s view highlighted the long established reputation of monuments, dating back to antiquity, as grand, celebrated, self-apparent, and embedded statements of power. His pronouncement also served as a public defense of an expensive, contentious, and delayed process of construction that lasted over eighty years and required multiple renovations to complete both its physical and symbolic grandeur. In How to Build a Monument, we will navigate this complex history of modern monuments, through case studies of form, function, and public debate. We will focus on the period of 1876 through the present, at both U.S. and transnational sites of memory, in order to examine shifts in national and civic monumental practices. Our study of monuments will include honorific sculptures, arches, and war memorials; we will also address commemorative events, architecture, national parks, exhibitions and fairs, public art, unintended urban ruins, and protests staged within proximity to built structures in order to amplify dissent. Further, we will explore debates about contemporary monuments and public space, through direct dialogue with city officials and artists in Philadelphia and a digital project utilizing data from Monument Lab, previously shaped by Haverford students.
Visual Histories of the Civil Rights Movement
Fall 2016 – History 241
This course examines the history of the U.S. civil rights movement through the framework of visual culture. We will explore the relationships between racial struggle and spectacle; social action and image production/circulation; uplift and violence; and technological shifts and archival practices within the fields of photography, film, television, and print culture. Our primary timeframe spans 1955 through 1968, respectively bookended by the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. We will also ground our periodization of civil rights with additional studies of nineteenth and early-twentieth century visual culture that reflect on Frederick Douglass’ formulation that “poets, prophets, and reformers are all picture-makers,” and trace the emergent legacies of civil rights discourses through to the present, especially in readings of digitally remixed and redeployed archival images situated within the contemporary activism of the #BlackLivesMatter era. In this sense, this course’s periodization of “civil rights” signals a broader arc: we will consider visuality through multiple, overlapping historical frames and intersectional formations of race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ideological difference.
Previous Course Descriptions
Postdoctoral Writing Fellow, Haverford College
Transnational Crossings: Representations of the Berlin Wall in American Culture
Fall 2015 – Writing 173
During the Cold War, the Berlin Wall was the world’s most notorious line of demarcation. From 1961–1989, the fortified border not only separated East and West Berlin, but it also surrounded the allied zones, including the American sector. Divided Berlin became a global epicenter for Americans as a site of ideological conflict, military occupation, and artistic experimentation. Hundreds of American artists felt compelled to visit Berlin and produce work on both sides of the Wall. Despite its stark border, the city served as a focal point of cultural exchange between Germans and Americans. While many Americans traveled to post-World War II Paris for their own imposed exile in Europe, or formulated perspectives on the complexities of domestic culture while driving interstate on the American open road, the divided city of Berlin was another popular option for Americans seeking critical distance. American cultural producers – such as Leonard Freed, Langston Hughes, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Keith Haring, and many others – have returned to the Berlin Wall to ponder political borders worldwide and social boundaries back in the United States, especially those connected to matters of race, gender, sexuality, class, and national belonging. In addition to exploring the wall, they also pursued projects in Berlin with German colleagues that led them to engage with post-Holocaust Jewish trauma, radical political communities, diasporic identity, queer culture, and other historical manifestations of division. Since 1989, after the dismantling of the wall and reunification of Germany, intrigue and investment in narratives about the wall continue to circulate meaningfully in American culture. Transnational Crossings views the Berlin Wall as an evolving site and symbol of division and transformation. Each week, we will read texts – including historical accounts, cultural critiques, and artistic works – in order to produce weekly writing assignments. We will also pursue writing, collaborate with artists, and explore ideas through the campus gallery's exhibition, The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall, opening in October 2015. At the end of the term, we will produce a final project to reflect on social boundaries in the United States as well as the complex historical crossroads of Berlin.
Philadelphia Freedoms: Cultural Landscapes and Civic Ideals
Spring 2016 – Writing 174
Philadelphia, founded by William Penn in 1682, was originally envisioned as a concept city for freedom, toleration, and justice. Since then, the city has exemplified revolutionary thought, cultural ideals, and nation building. However, the dualities of freedom and repression, social ideals and harsh realities, have also shaped the city throughout its history to the present day. Currently, Philadelphia’s identity as a 21st century cultural destination has been marked by recent regrowth and economic revival, alongside long standing crises in education, urban violence, and economic injustice. How do Philadelphians balance the deep imprint of venerated core ideals with such ongoing challenges? What is the relationship between Philadelphia’s founding ethos and its layered built environment? How can the city embody the ethical dilemmas and conceptual possibilities for broader debates about contemporary civic ideals? Philadelphia Freedoms spans the history of the city, in order to trace how the city’s founding principles have manifested in the lived experiences of its residents over many generations. Each week, we will read texts – including historical accounts, cultural critiques, and artistic works – in order to produce weekly writing assignments, a group project with a local arts organization, and several documentary field trips that reveal and review the city's complex layers. We will also pursue writing and explore ideas in the Quaker archives at Haverford College's Special Collections, online maps through OpenDataPhilly, and through the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts program. At the end of the term, each student will work individually toward a final writing project that will consist of a close study of one street or intersection of the city around course themes, which in turn will populate a class-produced critical atlas of Philadelphia.
Additional Previous Courses:
Mapping Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies, 2016)
Philly Public Art/History/Space (University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies, 2016)
Borders, Walls, and Bridges: Cultural Approaches to Divided Cities (Haverford College, Writing, 2014–2015)
Memory, Monuments, and Urban Space (Haverford College, Writing, 2014–2015)
Immigrant City: Cultural Traces and Virtual Spaces (University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies, 2013)
Memory, Monuments, and Urban Space (University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies, 2012)