Author Archives: bcshervey

P6 Digging the duality of graves

I have been playing at the idea and practice of reading cemeteries for a very long time. I was struck by the realization that, inside the given of a cultural landscape, cemeteries had neighborhoods and enclaves that were as distinct and open to interpretation as any street or cityscape. Before moving to Oregon, most of my wandering have been within cemeteries that had been established well before 1850, and the majority of Civil War headstones marked the graves of men killed during the war. That is why I was struck my the number of grave markers for Civil War veterans, most of whom were from the upper Midwest and who had died as very old men after moving to Oregon. These men and their cemetery told a much different story about Eugene and the evolution of Oregon as a whole.

When I originally envisioned this project, I   anticipated using a mix of video and stills with voiceover and text. My still photos were much stronger than my video bits, and I was getting wigged out at the amount of voiceovers I would need to record. The final project, therefore, is all stills with a lot of text. [Note: The date on the final should read 2014, and I know through doesn’t have two ts.]

P4 Audio


I am wont to use my own writing for projects like this. My first choice, a poem called “Marxist Bookstore, Chicago, 1962,” was actually too long. This one is a bit too short.

I wrote “My Crazy, Curly Son” when my #2 son was crazy and curly and two-years-old He is still crazy and curly, but is now 13-years-old and calls his older brother a jack ass hole. I had originally wanted to end this recording with a clip of them fighting. Of course, when I actually wanted them to be fighting, there were generally civil to each other and they gave me nothing to use. Hence the overuse of cloying music.

I first used Audacity for a Multimedia for Education class in 2007. It vexed me then, vexed me when I have used it since, and it vexes me now. I can hear in my mind’s ear what I want; getting there is another adventure.

Project 1 Scavenger Hunt

Photographic tour of LCC as interpreted by ….. PhD Undercover


1. Teresa Hughes’ door

MUL2_blue cyc wall

2. Blue Cyc Wall


3. Equipment checkout door

MUL2_blue cyc wall2

The dao of the cyc wall




4. Main art gallery _long shot


5. Art-o-matic


6. Reference desk_library


7. Silver sculpture in front of Health & Wellness building_closeup

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8. Multimedia book_Sherlock et. Arthur_who knew?

MUL9_arts office next door

9. Mary Jo Kreindal’s office…or the general neighborhood

MUL10_bus stop

10. Bus stop…”by night…is a wonderful sight; there is magic abroad in the air….”

MUL11 ChristineSalter 1

11. Christina Salter in her office


12. 2nd floor commons @ 17 bldg


13. Flags in No.1


14. Construction


Construction in black & white. Less is more…..?

About bcshervey

I’ve been cast, by choice or by default, in any  number of roles: academician, author, daughter, editor, ethnographer, (ex)wife, (grants)writer, mother, photographer, researcher, teacher. Many have been played simultaneously; others are from what feels to be a time long gone by. As I face the abyss of middle age (as socially constructed as it might be), I am trying to reconnect with parts of my creative and professional past to be able to take them into the near and distant future.

Beth Shervey's Book Cover

My dissertation, published by SIU Press in 2000

I grew up in Sullivan, Illinois, and had the good fortunate to do my dissertation on my hometown. I will get to that in a minute.

linotype matrix_cropped

Linotype Matrix

For most of my childhood, my mother was an editor for the local newspaper and my father was the county planning and zoning commissioner. Each of their professional roles influenced much of what I chose to study and do. I remember my mother’s early years with the newspaper very clearly including Linotype, and when they switched to photo-ready layout. After school, my sister and I would hang out at the newspaper office and at the courthouse (probably driving folks nuts at both places). Time spent at the newspaper office and getting to know how it all operated definitely instilled in me a passion, if not awakening a latent talent, for writing and photography. The role of a weekly newspaper in a rural county with one stoplight plus the palpability of a local government in action set the stage for interest in community theory and local ethnography.

The local institution that defined life in Sullivan and, subsequently, my dissertation, was The Little Theatre on the Square. Since 1959, The Little Theatre has been the only Equity theatre between Chicago and St. Louis, bringing in all variety of theatre people (stars, techies, apprentices), tourists, and new businesses. As I discussed in my dissertation/book, the theatre changed the cultural tenor of the community, especially through the 1960s and 1970s, of a very insular, homogenous farming town. More to the point of post, working at the theatre as a 14-year-old, first as an usher than as the photographer’s assistant, pretty much altered my perceptions and definitions of life starting with the role of theatre and the view of the world through a camera lens.

The course of my academic adventures–undergraduate and first graduate foray–took me through news writing, international politics, Russian history, urban policy analysis, architectural history, museum studies, and oral history/ethnography. Ethnography defined the focus of my doctoral work, providing a similar level of inquiry and potential for storytelling as I had known through photography. In other words, both allow for socially acceptable nosiness. Teaching added a whole other dimension of potential exultation. I didn’t begin my PhD program with any intention of teaching but quickly and totally captivated.

The upshot is that I am trying to rekindle those things that had previously captivated me. When Plan A–a teaching gig–didn’t come through, I followed Plan B–working as a grants writer for a community college. This all occurred jScreen Shot 2014-10-16 at 3.04.41 PMust as the economy was imploding. (Working in grants development during a recession is not for the faint of heart.) I did find much of the grants process enjoyable and satisfying. A very significant downside was that too few people in positions of authority, power, and influence had any real understanding of the grants world, and I was just apathetic enough to not educate the masses or evangelize for the cause. Consequently, after being deaccessioned from a grants gig this summer, I decided it was time to recalibrate my navigational system and head in a different direction. I know the general direction in which I am heading, but I am just not sure yet of the exact compass point.

Poynter: Beyond words

I am currently on the quest for a new blog that will serve as an ideal/role model for a produced by/about the adventures of ________ [fill in the blank]. Perhaps the reason I am still questing is that I am still trying to figure out what I want to be. In the meantime, however, I return to a site that has been a stalwart for years.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.32.02 PMIn its official realm (and in their own words) the Poynter Institute is a school

that exists to ensure that our communities have access to excellent journalism—the kind of journalism that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our democracy.

As a writer and writing instructor, I have used for reference, teaching ideas, and handy how-to’s. Roy Peter Clark and his blog, Writing Tools, are especially useful. In the past few years, Poynter has evolved into a full multimedia resource and training site, reflective of the array and pace of changes in the overall news industry.

Stories we tell ourselves about ourselves….

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One explanation of thick description…Clifford Geertz –from Interpretations of Culture

….is a quote borrowed liberally and literally from Clifford Geertz (The Interpretations of Culture 1973).  The quote, of course, is a layer among many in a very thick description. As an ethnographer, I have never strayed far from Geertz’s foundation that storytelling, that interpretation or explanation of one’s world–the search for meaning–creates a public document of a public act. In a multimediated world, that quest for meaning and the subsequent creation of a public document takes on exponentially more expressions and meanings. Regardless of form, a story cannot exist in a vacuum; an audience is a fundamental component which, by tacit or expressed agreement, perpetuates the process of interpretation and retelling. Seeking the process is not necessarily the same path as seeking the truth.