Born-Again Brethren: History as Identity and Theology in the Cultural Transformation of a "Plain People"
AdvisorBruggeman, Seth C., 1975-
Committee memberWatt, David Harrington
Brethren in Christ Church
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/1829
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AbstractThis essay examines the ways in which one Protestant faith community has, over the course of the last six decades, deployed history as a means to form identity and shape practical theologies for daily living, in response to a particular transformation of its culture. Beginning in the middle decades of the twentieth century, the Brethren in Christ Church transformed from a small, separatist religious society into a growing mainstream evangelical denomination. Central to this transformation was the church's increasing investment in the larger American evangelical movement. Since the 1970s, church members have hotly debated their denomination's "evangelical turn." While some see it as an inspiring story that captures the church's missionary essence, others see it as a tale of acculturation to "worldly" society. This contestation, however, rests on a misunderstanding of the denomination's "post-turn" history. By re-narrating the church's "evangelical turn" and leveraging that narrative into a collaborative, web-based interpretive exhibit, I seek to empower the Brethren in Christ community to better understand its history. Ultimately, I conclude that throughout the last sixty years and into the present, members of the church have used and continue to use history to understand both who they are and how they should live--conclusions with significant implications for the practice of public history among faith communities.
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History Truck Unlimited: The New Mobile History, Urban Crisis, and MeBruggeman, Seth C., 1975-; Lowe, Hilary Iris; Lockenour, Jay, 1966- (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)The Philadelphia Public History Truck is a nearly two-year-old mobile museum project which creates interdisciplinary exhibitions about the history of Philadelphia neighborhoods with those who live, work, and play within the places and spaces of the city. Since I founded the project in 2013, I have navigated partnerships with both grassroots organizations and larger institutions and faced a wide-ranging gamut of experiences worthy of examination by public historians concerned with power and production of history as well as practice-based reflexivity. The first half of this thesis documents my key reflections of the first eighteen months of work and serves as a primary source on the project. This paper also places History Truck into a long historiography of both public history and mobility in the United States of America to explain the emergence of what I am calling the New Mobile History, an emerging form of practice in which community members and public historians work together from the onset of project development using ephemerality and movement as a tool for creativity and civic-driven history making. By analyzing oral history interviews with Cynthia Little and Michael Frisch, I argue firstly that Philadelphia was the birthplace of this New Mobile History. Secondly, I posit that for this New Mobile History to continue evolving, public historians must balance digital work and relationship-based process to create exhibitions which directly serve communities of memory. Lastly, I consider one possible future for History Truck, including its transformation from project to nonprofit organization manned by post-M.A. fellows who have the ability to work passionately on city streets and with new media.
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