Georgetown University has an evolving narrative about its past, present, and future, but the reality of the university’s place in Washington, the United States, and the world is much more complex. This project by CCT student Liz Sabatiuk sought to layer and juxtapose artifacts of Georgetown’s past and present to create an immersive exploration of the university’s multifaceted identity.
In Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae, Michael Veal refers to Curt Sachs’ classification of “‘logogenic’ music (in which comprehensible words are the basis of the song)” and “‘pathogenic’ sound (pure sound arising from the emotions).” Veal goes on to write of dub remixes, “It might therefore seem pointless to search for any poetic qualities in these phonemic fragments. Buttressed by sound processing, however, they often surpass the one-dimensionality of the original lyrics in their cryptically evocative power, allowing more open-ended opportunities of lyrical interpretation” (Veal 2007). The video I created, Old North Remembered | Old North Forgotten, seeks to create a pathogenic experience, allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps in their knowledge with their imagination, or perhaps inspiring further research.
I conducted most of my research online and using resources like the “Old North book” that were provided in class. I found it helpful to make a list of things remembered, in the sense of being included in official narratives, along with a forgotten counterpoint for each. I researched the university’s history of slavery, its positions on wars, its treatment of women, and the larger context of Washington, DC, and the Jesuit tradition. While there are plenty of dark “secrets”–and surely some actual secrets that aren’t so easily uncovered, as well–the most interesting discovery of the project was how normal the whole equation felt. An institution with the history and prestige of Georgetown is bound to have skeletons in its closet, but the ones I found just made it seem more real.
Every story contains multiple perspectives. The coexistence of these different perspectives, of the dark and the light, makes the story feel authentic and relatable. ~ Liz Sabatiuk
The video includes images from the Georgetown University archive, the Georgetown University Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, and Flickr Creative Commons. It also includes photos from Remix Practice students Jiaxi Xing, Nathan Danskey, Areej Mehdi, Sam Redd, and Han Wu, as well as haiku “spot” photos by creative writing students Julia Anastos, Sarah Fisher, Jee Young Kim, Evelyn Pacheco, and Christina Smith. It also contains footage from “Exploring Old North” by Media Production students Fatima Al-Dosari and Dur Kattan.
The video’s soundtrack features a musical score by Sam Redd and readings by CCT students (past and present) Owen Agho, Naina Boveja, Nathan Danskey, Dur Kattan, Sam Redd, Liz Sabatiuk, and Ken Wake. All words are taken from The Old North Book and the “What We Know” pamphlet released in 2015 by Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. Other ambient Georgetown sounds were captured by Nathan Danskey and Liz Sabatiuk.
Here’s more detail about some of the images included:
Willard Hotel – Franklin Pierce inauguration – Illustrated News – 1853
Contrabands at Headquarters of General Lafayette by Mathew Brady
Georgetown’s Wikipedia page
Georgetown Hoyas Wikipedia page
Georgetown Hoyas Men’s Basketball page
Wikipedia page for D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera
Glimpses at the Freedmen’s Union Industrial School, Richmond, Virginia (image via Wikimedia)
Hoyas [with] painted chests (By Patrickneil (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Georgetown University School of Nursing Graduation 1953
The Emancipation of D.C. Slaves
Georgetown Slavery Archive Gallery
“Reflexive Remix takes parts from different sources and mixes them aiming for autonomy. The spectacular aura of the original(s), whether fully recognizable or not must remain a vital part if the remix is to find cultural acceptance. This strategy demands that the viewer reflect on the meaning of the work and its sources – even when knowing the origin may not be possible.” ~Eduardo Navas, Remix Defined