The Bicentennial in Philadelphia
Faculty Lead: Thomas Devaney, Department of English
Student Deadline to Apply: Friday, 2/8/19 // Download Application
Info Session: Tuesday, 1/29/19, 4:30 p.m. VCAM 102
For ten weeks during summer 2019, four students will create a documentary centered on the city of Philadelphia in the summer of 1976. The project will take place in Philadelphia with professor Thomas Devaney and assistant Natasha Cohen-Carroll, collaborating with Greenhouse Media artists and filmmakers Matthew Suib and Aaron Igler. The team will conduct archival media research as well as oral history interviews with a cross-section of people from across the city to tell their personal accounts and stories about the summer of 76.
The 200th birthday of the United States was a national event, which had a heightened focus in Philadelphia. A vast regatta of tall ships sailed from around the world up the Delaware River. A team of Conestoga wagons traveled from the west coast to the suburbs of the city in time for July 4th. All of the fire plugs in the city were painted red, white, and blue. The summer also saw an infamous outbreak of Legionnaires Disease before the main celebration. It was the first occasion where a cluster of pneumonia cases had occurred in one place. The spring of 1975 was the exit of the US from Vietnam. President Nixon had resigned in 1974. The country and the city were in need of some upbeat news and all efforts were made to make the Bicentennial an extraordinary celebration. Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo called in the National Guard for fear of protests at Independence Hall on July 4th. Reviews of the Bicentennial were mixed, and yet the memory of the summer of 76 retains a deep hold on the imagination for many Philadelphians.
How has the Bicentennial left its mark the psyche of the city? Our project will be to explore how myth and memory are interwoven in the collective memory. The team will complete the filming and editing process over the course of the summer. The group will produce an ambitious documentary guided both by the faculty member, filmmakers, and college staff. The form of the work is an ensemble of voices and collaged images: many formats can be envisioned, including:
- an installation (multi-channel) format
- public presentation/projection of the work
Because of the innovative work, and the expertise of the Greenhouse Media partners, other “expanded” presentations of the work are possible.
The program is open to Haverford students, including graduating seniors, as well as Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore students majoring at Haverford or those who have otherwise completed significant film-focused coursework in the Tri-Co. Student Fellows will receive a $5000 stipend to cover room, board, and other expenses. Financial aid summer earnings expectations will be covered by the program.