Orange Alert

Syracuse Symposium to Unveil 'YOU ARE HERE' April 20

New exhibition by Humanities Center, Special Collections Research Center rethinks concept of 'Place'

April 18, 2017, by Rob Enslin

A bird’s-eye view of Syracuse, N.Y. (c. 1850), engraved by Lewis Bradley, lithographed by D. W. Moody and published by the Smith Brothers of New York. (Courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center.)

Syracuse Symposium concludes its yearlong examination of “Place” with an art exhibition of local relevance.

On Thursday, April 20, the Humanities Center and the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in Syracuse University Libraries will co-host an opening reception for the show “YOU ARE HERE: Expanding the Concept of Place” from 4:30-6 p.m. on the sixth floor of Bird Library.

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and features rare books, pamphlets, maps, manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts from SCRC’s permanent collection, intended to reframe and expand the notion of what “place” was, is and can be.

For more information about the opening, call the Humanities Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at 315.443.7192 or visit

To learn more about “YOU ARE HERE,” which runs until Friday, Aug. 11, contact SCRC at 315.443.2093 or visit SCRC is presenting the exhibition with support from the Humanities Center.

Lucy Mulroney

Lucy Mulroney, SCRC’s senior director, says the exhibition aims to expand the concept of “place.” “Although we often think of ‘place’ in terms of coordinates on a map, it can include a vastly wider vocabulary that encompasses experiences of displacement, migration, belonging and ways of moving through spaces over the course of one’s life.”

Vivian May agrees. As director of the Humanities Center, she considers the exhibition a fitting way to cap off the yearlong symposium.

“The idea of ‘place’ can be wide-ranging,” says May, also a professor of women’s and gender studies in A&S. “We bring to the places we live a set of cultural preconceptions that shape how we respond to them. We also shape them to fit our preconceptions. ‘YOU ARE HERE’ explores this idea in an interdisciplinary way—from the geographical relevance of the Erie Canal, to the conceptual destination of the Underground Railroad, to the student experience at Syracuse.”

Emily Stokes-Rees and Brice Nordquist

During the reception, Brice Nordquist and Emily Stokes-Rees will present results from their SCRC Faculty Fellowships, sponsored by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Nordquist, an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric in A&S, used his fellowship to teach a course on the rhetorics of futurity. His students engaged with materials from SCRC’s collections of utopian, science fiction and city planning materials.

Stokes-Rees, an assistant professor and coordinator of museum studies in the School of Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, focused on ethnographic curatorship. Her students worked extensively with SCRC’s plastics collection to develop an installation for Bird Library’s Plastics Pioneers Reading Room.

Mulroney hopes the new fellowship program will get more people involved with SCRC’s primary source materials.

“Our pilot year has been a great experience on both sides,” she adds. “Working closely with faculty has given us the opportunity to develop transformative learning experiences for our students. As professors Nordquist and Stokes-Rees have demonstrated, we can breathe new meanings into historical materials by being able to handle, analyze and interpret them.”

Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center cultivates diverse forms of humanities scholarship, sponsors a range of dynamic programming and partnerships, highlights the humanities as a public good and underscores the relevance of the humanities for addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin