On Walking, Together: Embodied Research and the Tidal Schuylkill River
January 7, 2019
Liquid Histories and Floating Archives was an experimental seminar that asked students to explore the interweave of global climate change with cultural change, from the hyperlocal vantage point of Philadelphia’s tidal Schuylkill River.
This guest post is the final entry from the course blog, co-authored by the seminar's students: Tathagat Bhatia, Lucy Corlett, Samantha Friskey, Jade Gonzalez, Claire Hampton, Luba Mendelevich, Alexandra (Rose) Nagele, Michael Shultz, and Piotr Wojcik
With Martin Premoli and Luna Sarti
Edited by Bethany Wiggin
Editor's Note: Philadelphia’s tidal Schuylkill River. It’s a watery place home at once to native and invasive plants, fish, and fowl; dogs and their humans; bicycles; freight rail; the Schuylkill Expressway (also known as Interstate 76 or the Schuylkill Distressway); and myriad other assemblages. It’s a mixed up place. To learn about its nature-cultures requires crossing traditional disciplinary borders, and our seminar was cross-listed across six departments and each of the three divisions in the School of Arts & Sciences. Our syllabus is publicly available here.
Students were asked to consider what research methods they needed to apprehend such a mixed-up place, one increasingly prone to nuisance flooding on rainy days, and, although it’s miles up from the sea, to storm surge. One set of assignments, required students to spend time with the river, walking once a week along an identical stretch of the river, while reflecting on that week’s readings. Once they returned back to campus, working alone, they wrote weekly entries on our course blog (Liquid Histories). They mused about how walking with the river informed their reading, and vice versa.
All photo credits to Bethany Wiggin