Tiara Desire-Brisard ’19 Talks Public Humanities in Hartford


As the deadline for student applications for the Summer 2019 Public Humanities Collaborative approaches, we decided to catch up with Tiara Desire-Brisard ’19 who was accepted into the program last year. Tiara’s project was split into two distinct parts. One piece included working with Professor Chloe Wheatley of Trinity College’s English Department in the Watkinson library’s rare book archive. One example of Tiara’s research was to look at the outside covers and bindings of a poetry book, for example, and compare the outside with what the author was trying to say on the inside. For the community partner side of her project, Tiara worked with Jana Colacino at the Butler-McCook House & Garden to help expand the museum’s constituency, because traditionally a lot of the people who come to house museums are older white women and it was important to staff to expand the constituency of people who have access to the history and knowledge available at the Butler McCook House. Tiara’s research included running focus groups with people of all ages, from elementary school students working at the Ancient Burial Ground to Trinity College students who donated their time to help run focus groups.

When thinking about what made this humanities program unique, Tiara said that a lot of summer programs offered are focused on science or other topics, whereas the Public Humanities Collaborative was a rare chance to work with archival materials and museums. Tiara also said,

“I definitely engaged more with the community than I had. As an English and Public Policy & Law major, most of my work mainly focuses inside the classroom and more about ideological aspects of the world, so being able to connect in Hartford with different groups of people and learn more about the city’s history definitely was interesting. It was also amazing working at the Watkinson Library because there were so many different books and so much to learn about them, so I was able to learn about the different resources we have at Trinity that you don’t always get a chance to interact with.”

Tiara said upon graduating she hopes to be looking toward law school or working for a social justice center where communicating with different groups of people will be vital.

Student applications for the Summer 2019 Public Humanities Collaborative are due on Tuesday February 19th. Students selected for this program will receive a $3500 stipend plus 10 weeks of free housing at Trinity, and they will work 15 hours/week on faculty scholarship and another 15 hours/week with Hartford community partners pursuing public humanities projects. The PHC is a competitive application process, with preference given to first generation, under-represented, and other students with demonstrated financial need, for whom socio-economic status has prevented them from engaging with summer research opportunities. 

See more information at https://cher.trincoll.edu/phc and contact Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu with any questions.