Join Us for First Mondays at CDS: Spring 2024 Work-in-Progress Seminars

Sam Hunnicutt, Jobie Hill and Jessica Doyle
Sam Hunnicut, Jobie Hill and Jessica Doyle

Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is currently supporting three Ph.D. student fellows who are pursuing research related to documentary studies. As part of the fellowship, each student will give a presentation on an aspect of their dissertation research that relates to documentary studies.

Registration is requested so that the organizers can distribute a work-in-progress paper or film prior to the event. Everyone is welcome to attend. Snacks will be provided for these discussion-based seminars (except on March 4, which is an online event).


Monday, February 5, 2024

Demystifying the Rhetoric of Slave Breeding

Jobie Hill, Ph.D. Program in History
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In-person event, Duke Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew St., Room 113 (see directions)

Slavery scholars estimate the U.S. enslaved population tripled following the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1808. This aggressive population growth was achieved in part by forced breeding of enslaved people. It is anticipated that the multigenerational records of the Massie family in Virginia provide evidence of slave breeding by enslavers in the U.S.

Holistic review and interpretation of the Massie papers suggests a century-long slave breeding system that birthed more than 350 enslaved children. Jobie Hill’s project, Demystifying the Rhetoric of Slave Breeding, examines the paper trail left behind by the Massie family, looking specifically at the who, how and when.

Hill’s goal is to use Massie slave journals, including the never-studied Stock Book, to explore the role their content played in building and securing the prosperity of slavery through reproductive labor.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Weaving the Document: The Photography of Maruch Sántiz

Sam Hunnicut, Ph.D. Program in Romance Studies
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Online event

Registration (Zoom link to be sent with registration confirmation)

In the middle of the 1990s, an Indigenous Tsotsil Maya woman from the Mexican state of Chiapas became a sudden sensation in the international art world for her photographic series titled Creencias, or "Beliefs." Maruch Sántiz had interviewed elders in her community to record taboos, dream interpretations and other forms of orally transmitted knowledge. She then paired the text of these with her own photographs — ostensibly demonstrating the beliefs — in order to create the Creencias series. 

The contemporary reception of Creencias among art critics and in the popular press tended to view the series as a form of salvage ethnography engaged in documenting and preserving elements of Tsotsil Maya culture. This talk, however, aims to show how Creencias, through the productive tensions that Sántiz generates by weaving together text and image, evades the tendency of ethnographic photography to produce a static, almost mummified image of its subject.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Framing Disasters: Ecocritical Perceptions of Media Events and the Amazon

Jessica Doyle, Ph.D. Program in Romance Studies
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In-person event, Duke Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew St., Room 113 (see directions)


Following the ecological and infrastructural turn in media studies, this dissertation project investigates cultural responses to and representations of planetary ecological issues. By bringing together ‘media events,’ eco-art and media activism in or about the Amazon Forest, it embraces a cross-media approach to examine the ecological footprint of media linked to the Amazon within the contemporary context marked by communications revolution, climate change activism and impending ecological catastrophe.

The project also shows the important place Amazonian ecomedia has in affecting dominant techniques of environmental communication — namely framing, flows and mediation — even as media’s material production and processes might remain complicit to extractivism and environmental degradation.

In foregrounding emerging media and communicative practices mainly by Amazonian indigenous actors and organizations that at once promote a transformative engagement with tropical geographic spaces as well as with media’s extractivist effects, the project ultimately helps to broaden understanding of what role the Amazon is currently playing in both ecological geopolitics as well as mainstream media and visual culture.


Katie Hyde