Article via Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 2013
By Amber N. Wiley
“Did you know @Tipitinas building has been a gym, radio station, juice bar, restaurant, & brothel? Not all at the same time, of course…”
In the fall of 2012, I taught an experimental and exploratory upper-level seminar at the Tulane School of Architecture entitled “Sites and Sounds: Public History.” The course grew out of an independent, applied research project that I am conducting through the Tulane City Center, which investigates the cultural geography of New Orleans’ musical landscape. I began the seminar’s conversation on spatial and digital humanities with the above quote, tweeted by Tipitina’s — a music venue in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans — on August 16, 2012. Embodied in that quote of 140 characters (or less) is a nuanced and layered understanding of how the site has served the New Orleans community in multiple capacities. My students’ task in the course was to uncover the hidden histories of place at musical sites and to share them through new media techniques with a larger public audience. By presenting their research through MediaNOLA, a “portal for histories of culture and cultural production in New Orleans,” my students foregrounded and contextualized architecture as a central type of culture production.