Niagara Gazette — The Clinton’s Ditch workshop is designed to show scholars how the Erie Canal propelled advancements in transportation, communication and engineering that, altogether, transformed the U.S. from a set of distinct regions to a unified, industrial nation.
Guest lecturers including Tamara Thornton, professor of history at the University of Buffalo, will suggest that the Erie Canal’s linking of east and west sparked the first industrial revolution in the 1830s and, in the process, discouraged the spread of slavery to newer states in the union. In a separate lecture she’ll suggest how the “artificial river” propelled capitalist culture in 19th century America.
SUNY Distinguished Service Professor F. Daniel Larkin is coming from SUNY Oneonta to lecture on “New York’s Gift To The Nation.” Also from Oneonta, Roger Hecht, assistant professor of literature, will meet up with the scholars in Syracuse, where they’re touring the Erie Canal Museum on Tuesday, to talk with them about the canal in 19th century art and literature. Museum curator Daniel Ward will delve into the Irish experience on the canal.
Throughout the week, non-fiction writers Gerard Koeppel, Martha Kendall and Doug Farley, director of the Erie Canal Discovery Center, will make presentations on canal construction, music and folklore. Canal-inspired art and architecture are covered in field trips to Rochester and Buffalo. Approaches to teaching the subject matter to elementary and secondary students will be suggested by Lorrei DiCamillo, associate professor of education at Canisius College.
Each day, time is set aside for teacher-scholars to work in pairs on “document” development, that is, creation of a teaching resource/plan that they can use in their classes in 2013-14.
On Saturday, the last day of the workshop, scholars will be treated to a visit to Niagara Falls State Park and an “Erie Canal meal” at the NCCC-run Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Eighty summer scholars were selected from a field of 156 applicants for spots in the workshop.