News

The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. The 2023 Julia Harper Day Award went to Josephine Vonk, a psychology major who graduated with a… read more about Duke Senior Josephine Vonk Wins 2023 Julia Harper Day Award »

The Certificate in Documentary Studies program attracts undergraduates to the Center for Documentary Studies from across the arts and sciences. At a celebratory event on April 30, 2023 (2–6 p.m.), in the Center for Documentary Studies auditorium, the following eleven students in the Spring 2023 Documentary Capstone Seminar will receive their certificates and present their final projects, completed under the guidance of Chris Sims with Hareth Yousef in the… read more about CDS Celebrates Certificate in Documentary Studies Spring 2023 Capstone Graduates »

Duke’s Office of the Provost has convened a review committee to examine how the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) can best respond to the challenges and opportunities before it, given both the evolving landscape for documentary studies and faculty strengths across Duke. A key issue before the committee is the appropriate relationship between CDS, currently a Duke support corporation, and the rest of the university. read more about Share Your Comments on the Center for Documentary Studies »

The Cassilhaus Travel Fellowship is made possible through a three-way partnership between Cassilhaus, an arts incubator featuring an artist residency and exhibition program, and the Duke Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFA|EDA), the Duke Center for Documentary Studies (CDS). It was created with the idea that travel can be transformative in the life of an emerging artist. The biennial $10,000 fellowship, funded by Cassilhaus founders Ellen Cassilly and Frank… read more about MFA|EDA Grad Felicity Palma Wins $10,000 Cassilhaus Travel Fellowship »

The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. The 2022 Julia Harper Day Award goes to Sierra Winters, a cultural anthropology and food studies major who graduated… read more about Duke Graduate Sierra Winters Wins 2022 Julia Harper Day Award »

Alex Harris’ new book of documentary photographs, Our Strange New Land, opens with a dream-like image of a young Black girl seen through a doorway. Harris found the girl talking to herself and dancing to music. The action wasn’t “real,” as it was taken on a movie set and the young girl was rehearsing a scene she would later film. However, Harris later found out, the moment was created a reality borne from the young actors’ personality and the writer-director’s memories of her own childhood. “The scene was… read more about 'Our Strange New Land:' A Photographer Gazes at New Southern Narratives by Independent Filmmakers »

Salt water flows in my veins, and I can recall my first taste of the Atlantic Ocean at two years old. I grew up hearing stories of how a six-year-old boy and girl, my maternal grandparents, met on a sandy South Carolina road and first experienced the spark that created my extended family.  Read more. read more about Southern Cultures’ Top Ten of 2020 List Includes CDS Instructor Michelle Lanier’s Essay “Rooted: Black Women, Southern Memory, and Womanist Cartographies” »

Released on Juneteenth, North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green's new album of poetry, The River Speaks of Thirst, features archetypal imagery and resonant elocutions, invoking the history of Black oppression as well as the US's current societal and political climate calling for executive, legislative, and judicial reform. Read more. read more about “The River Speaks of Thirst,” CDS Instructor/NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green's Album of Poetry, Makes Popmatter’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 List »

The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. The 2021 Julia Harper Day Award went to CJ Cruz, a psychology and theater studies major who graduated with a… read more about Duke Graduate CJ Cruz Wins 2021 Julia Harper Day Award »

There are times when a Duke author has knowledge to share but it just won't work as a scholarly publication. The books below all address large issues, from fighting tyranny to facing death, but they come through the personal stories of the authors.  These books, along with many others, are available at Duke University Libraries, the Gothic Bookshop or the Regulator Bookshop. No Cure for Being Human (and other truths I need to hear), by Kate… read more about 10 Duke-Authored Memoirs Have Stories to Tell »

Media innovation executive Opeyemi Olukemi is the new director of the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University. Olukemi, the fourth director in the center’s 32-year history, began work in September. She came to Duke after stints at the Tribeca Film Institute and, most recently, American Documentary | POV, where she initiated partnerships, initiatives, and projects at the intersections of technology and storytelling.   Olukemi said she was drawn both to CDS’s legacy and its potential as a… read more about Opeyemi Olukemi Is New Director at the Center for Documentary Studies  »

Myron Dewey (1972–2021), former Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, died unexpectedly on September 26, 2021. We are deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss and extend our condolences to Myron's family. Myron was based at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke for the Spring 2019 semester; he had a tremendous impact across both campuses during his time with us: “Myron Dewey has been a mentor… read more about Remembering Myron Dewey »

Climate change. The very phrase can spur despair. Each new report adds to a feeling that it’s too late to stop swelling seas, melting ice caps and rampaging fires, too late to prevent climate catastrophe, too late to save ourselves. Duke’s John Biewen, producer of the new climate podcast series “The Repair,” sees things differently. “Yes, it’s clear that in a sense, time’s up – we’re out of time to stop thinking about this,” Biewen says. “We have to take real action in the next 5 to 10 years, and it has to be big.” “But… read more about John Biewen and 'Scene on Radio' Presents Stories of Concern and Hope on Climate Change »

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is pleased to announce the artists selected to participate in the virtual DocX Archive Lab—How Are We Known: Reimagining, Repurposing, and Rewriting the Archive—launching September 24, 2021. The lab is a project of CDS’s DocX initiative supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists, curators, and thought leaders working across the nonfiction landscape. “The submissions for our inaugural lab were impressive; in fact, we expanded the cohort given the number… read more about Fellows Selected for 2021–22 DocX Archive Lab »

The Trinity College of Arts & Sciences has announced the winners of the 2021 awards for undergraduate teaching. Given each year, the awards honor exceptionally strong educators from across the college. Teaching award recipients are selected by the Arts & Sciences Council on the basis of student evaluations, teaching statements and colleague recommendations. “These four awards are bestowed by the Arts & Sciences faculty in recognition of especially outstanding teaching,” said Arts & Sciences Council Chair… read more about Arts & Sciences Teaching Awards Celebrate Excellence Across the College »

Season 5 of Scene on Radio, the two-time Peabody-nominated podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies, launches September 15, 2021. Over the course of about ten weekly episodes, producer and host John Biewen and co-host Amy Westervelt—the award-winning climate journalist and host of the Drilled podcast—will explore the cultural roots of our current ecological emergency, and the deep changes Western society will need to make to save the Earth and our… read more about CDS’s "Scene on Radio" Podcast Previews Season 5, "The Repair," on the Climate Crisis »

The Center for Documentary Studies’ DocX initiative is intended to evolve as the practice of documentary evolves, driven by what documentary artists need to make their work most resonant in the world.  Following a pilot phase (2015–2020), DocX is entering its next stage of evolution: to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists and thought leaders working across the nonfiction landscape. To reimagine what documentary work looks and sounds like, DocX… read more about CDS to Host New DocX Archive Lab; Applications Now Open »

A student film project at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) was turned this week into a 12-minute opinion video for the New York Times. In the film, James Robinson, who graduated in 2020, shows what it feels like to live with several disabling eye conditions that have defied an array of treatments and caused him countless humiliations. Using playful graphics and enlisting his family as subjects in a series of optical tests, he invites others to view the world through… read more about How Life Looks Through 'My Whale Eyes' »

At the end of June, Wesley Hogan will conclude an 8-year tenure as director of Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS).   She’ll return to the Duke faculty as a research professor with Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute. Her successor is expected to be named soon. In her new role as a research professor, Hogan will continue teaching courses focusing on oral history, human rights and youth social movements.  She’ll also continue work on a project that’s been at Duke as long as she has.  In her… read more about Wesley Hogan: On Giving Documentary Subjects A Strong Voice in Their Stories »

Seventh-graders invited by CDS exhibitions director Courtney Reid-Eaton to Myra Greene's My White Friends exhibit, 2014. Photograph by Katie Hyde. The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University is proud to announce its new Curator’s Award for Insight and Innovation to recognize both established and emerging Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) curators in the documentary field writ large. While there are many awards that honor the contributions of… read more about CDS Creates New Curators' Award, Names Courtney Reid-Eaton Inaugural Recipient »

Callanish I, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, 2010 | Private Collections MJ Sharp, a Lecturing Fellow of Documentary Studies at Duke University and a longtime photography instructor at the school’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS), has been named a Fulbright Scholar for the 2021–22 academic year. The documentary and fine arts photographer will pursue an arts/science project, “Our Disappearing Darkness and Recreating True Night,” at the University of Exeter, UK, building on more than… read more about CDS Photo Instructor MJ Sharp Receives 2021–22 Fulbright for Project in the UK »

Floyd Country Store Friday Jamboree (Photo: Richard Toller, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0) On Friday nights, the small town of Floyd in southwestern Virginia (population 425) becomes a gathering spot to play and hear American traditional music. Decades ago, the Floyd Country Store started hosting an informal jamboree. Word spread, the crowds grew, and the store now boasts a state-of-the-art performance stage. “People come from all over the world every Friday night,” says Charles D.… read more about Rock Castle Home: A Disappearing Appalachian Community Shares Its Stories »