Localizing Literature: Poets and Writers of Essex County, a unique collaboration between the Lynn Museum and North Shore Community College (NSCC), will launch Wednesday, November 2 to engage North Shore residents in learning about both locally-created literature and the areas featured in the writings. The public is invited to attend the free event which will be held from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Lynn Museum, 590 Washington Street.
The initiative will feature collected websites of Essex County writers– Hawthorne in Salem, Poetry of Places in Essex County and John Greenleaf Whittier: Essex County’s Famous Son on a kiosk in the Lynn Museum for all to view and learn from. The opening reception will feature presentations by the web site creators: NSCC Professor Terri Whitney on the Hawthorne website, and NSCC Professors Emeriti Carl Carlsen on Poetry of Places and Susan Herman on the Whittier site.
The project is the brainchild of Professor Terri Whitney who said, “I thought that grouping the sites together on one kiosk at the Lynn Museum would highlight these projects on Essex County writers and be of interest to the college, the museum and area residents.” The idea was enthusiastically received by Museum Executive Director Drew Russo, as he felt it fit with the museum’s expanded mission to broaden presentations beyond Lynn to include all of Essex County. By introducing Lynn Museum visitors to the three sites through the computer kiosk, and also through a program demonstrating some of the material available on the sites, the pair hope to accomplish multiple goals:
*Spark interest in the literary heritage of Essex County through websites that explore the connection between locations familiar to area residents and the life and work of well-known writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, Vincent Ferrini, Charles Olson, and Sylvia Plath as well as lesser known area poets such as Lynn’s Alonzo Lewis and Nahant’s Annie Johnson.
*Deepen the way specific local places in the college’s service area can be experienced and appreciated as, for example, the Poetry of Places site does for Lynn’s High Rock, Egg Rock, Dungeon Rock and Lynn Woods.
*Illustrate how colleges and local museums can collaborate to provide rich cultural experiences for their communities, and
*Entice museum visitors to further investigate the extensive material on the three static websites on live internet sites.
The Poetry of Places in Essex County Website and the John Greenleaf Whittier: Essex County’s Famous Son Website were both developed with technology grants from North Shore Community College. NSCC also provided Susan Herman and Carl Carlsen with technical assistance from photographer, Kurt Eddy, and web designer, Julie Riley. Of further assistance on the Whittier site were the members of the Whittier Home of Amesbury, MA, and of the Whittier Birthplace of Haverhill, MA.
The Hawthorne in Salem Website was developed with a three-year grant for $247,600 from the National Endowment for the Humanities in May of 2000. NSCC collaborated with three area cultural institutions (the Peabody Essex Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site) to create a website on the life and work of Nathaniel Hawthorne under the direction of Professor Whitney who enlisted the participation of seven nationally known Hawthorne scholars and six area faculty (ranging from high school teachers to university professors) to develop and review content for the site. A multimedia designer and programmers provided the technical expertise. It was, and still is, highly unusual for a community college to receive the type of NEH grant that NSCC received.
NSCC agreed to continue to support the website after the grant period ended in 2004, and it continues to provide that support which has allowed it to stay updated technologically and to expand in content.
The Hawthorne in Salem Website has become the Internet site that Hawthorne scholars around the world turn to for such material and was awarded a prestigious “EdSitement” award for the “Best of the Humanities on the Web.”
The Localizing Literature: Poets and Writers of Essex County computer kiosk will remain at the museum through this academic year until May 2017.