With the campus moving into summer mode, the idea –if not the reality–of leisure beckons. The reality is that much of campus stays busy behind the scenes and that leisure has been an important topic for the archives all spring.
Once again, Professor Shireen Campbell found a creative way to introduce first-year writing students to the joys and perplexities of archival research. Her WRI 101 class became contributors to the Davidson Encyclopedia through the topic of Leisure and Play. The class explored the theme in many ways looking at “who has been given or had the right to leisure and play as well as how these concepts are defined or constrained by age, class, race, and/or gender.” The course description continues:
Readings will range from Plato and Aristotle to Thorstein Veblen and scenes from Parks and Recreation. Major projects will consider commercial representations of leisure, visions for and structures of local parks, analysis of student leisure at the college in the early 20th century, and non-profit attempts to “organize” leisure.
For the analysis of student leisure at Davidson, we picked a small range of topics and let the students delve into exploring and defining specific activities. They focused on the years between the 1860s and 1940s. Starting with sports, social events, religious life and clubs as the general topics, the final encyclopedia entries ended up being Arts and Communication Clubs, Dating at Davidson, Intramural Baseball, and the YMCA.
Within these entries, the class discovered the first student singers and the role that ROTC (decidedly not a leisure activity) played in developing more extracurricular activities such as concert and pep bands.
In an “only at Davidson” twist, one member of this group came across a continuous novel titled Caldwell Pharr Johnston, only then to discover that the title used the name of a real Davidson student, class of 1925 who was a grandfather of another member of the group.
The student working on early visual arts needed to get creative since artists were slow to organize -but quick to contribute sketches to yearbooks and newspapers. On the other hand, the religion group found so much material in the archives YMCA records that they focused on all the roles that group played on campus from orientation to scout troops to religious life and even finding ways to get young women on campus.
The sports group discovered that intramurals go way back– even before flickerball– and that they helped inspire a riot. To find out more check out the latest entries and share in our thanks to a great professor and our newly minted researchers.