Dr. Candace Forbes Bright of East Tennessee State University is a co-author of a recent article presenting a new method researchers, museums and historic sites could employ to better tell their stories that won the 2020 Zumkehr Prize for Scholarship in Public Memory.
The prize, which is supported by the Charles E. Zumkehr Professorship in Communication Studies at Ohio University (OU), was awarded to the best article published in 2019 on a topic related to the study of public memory. Members of the winning team will share the $2,000 prize, and the team’s lead researcher, Dr. Stephen P. Hanna of the University of Mary Washington, will be invited to share the team’s work in a public lecture at OU during the 2020-21 academic year.
The winning article, “Following the Story: Narrative Mapping as a Mobile Method for Tracking and Interrogating Spatial Narratives,” was published in the Journal of Heritage Tourism.
“Narrative mapping is a new approach to capture data about a space, the use of the space, and the way in which the space is interpreted,” said Bright, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a faculty researcher with the Applied Social Research Lab at ETSU. “It consists of following the narrative presented through the space – in our case, in plantation museums – and then documenting this for research.
“Our article presents narrative mapping as a tool for capturing the narratives at museums and heritage tourism sites to better understand the visitor experience and the differences between these experiences.”
Bright and her co-authors conducted narrative mapping research at Southern plantation museums in Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia, and two of those sites – Laura Plantation in Louisiana and Berkeley Plantation in Virginia – are presented in the article. The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, allowed the team to take a critical approach to discussions of race through history to better understand current race relations.
The prize judges lauded the article’s cutting-edge methodological approach to the study of public memory places, which they said could provide a model for future research in the field of public history. “Narrative mapping,” one judge wrote, “will surely transform the study of public memory through its application to a variety of case studies and deep sensitivity to space, storytelling, and historical curation.”
The article was one of 20 by authors from eight countries working in nine different disciplines that were nominated for this year’s prize, which is the first offered under the auspices of the Zumkehr Professorship.
Bright joined the ETSU faculty in 2018 and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she spent seven years specializing in social/cultural development with a focus on community health and race, with much of her time devoted to the work of the Gulf States Health Policy Center.
In addition to Bright and Hanna, co-authors of the Zumkehr Prize-winning article are Dr. Perry L. Carter of Texas Tech University, Dr. Amy E. Potter of Georgia Southern University, Dr. Derek A. Alderman of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT), Dr. E. Arnold Modlin of Norfolk State University and Dr. David L. Butler of Middle Tennessee State University. All are affiliated with the Tourism RESET (Race, Ethnicity and Social Equity in Tourism) Initiative based at UT.