Ruminations on the River
Read our participants' final portfolios here:
Daily Institute Updates
Day 1: Participants arrive, go to The Fence for dinner, and watch Looking to the River, a PBS documentary about the Susquehanna River. The students are asked write a journal entry, following this prompt: What is your response to the Looking to the River film? What did you learn about the Susquehanna River and region? How might you use this information to begin to formulate your portfolio? What is your personal interest in the river and region?
Day 2: On the first full day of the Institute, the writers go to an orientation session in the morning, break for lunch, take a walk to the river with Prof. Shara McCallum where they read and write poetry, and then they begin their research for their deep mapping exercise. Their journal assignment asks them to ponder the following questions: Reflect on your experirences today at the river. What were your impressions of the space? How did writing on location influence your experience of writing? How does your reading of Blue Highways fit into this?
Day 3: On day three, the writers went deep mapping and then attended a poetry reading at the Stadler Center. Their journal prompt is to reflect on the Deep Mapping excursion and the Stadler Center reading. Is there a common element that you find useful in terms of the production of your portfolio, your education about the Susquehanna and writing, and your intellectual life?
Day 4: The writers went kayaking down the Susquehanna River and then had an educational session with Beth of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art. The day's journal prompt is: When Merrell wrote his essay on Shamokin, he had never visited the confluence. This last spring he came here and presented a modified, and less dark, view of the place. Use the readings for today to think about the relationship between place, history, experience, and narrative. Use your insights to compose your journal entry for today.
Day 5: The the writers took a trip to Danville. Their journal prompt is: Choose your favorite part of Song of Solomon that deals explicitly with the Susquehanna Valley region and write about the impression of place that you derive from your selection.
Day 6: The writers watched Safe Harbor, a film about the Underground Railroad. Their prompt: Write about your response to Safe Harbor. What would it have been like to have to navigate unfamiliar terrain in order ot achieve freedom? What did you learn from the documentary that you didn't know before?