Christine’s ITP Bio

Hello again! I’m Christine Snyder. I’m 43, married to a musician for nine years, and have lived in Brooklyn since I graduated from my undergrad in 1997. I double-majored in journalism and theatre and have done both (at the same time!). I have a Master’s degree (MA) in Theatre History and Criticism from Brooklyn College and worked for almost twenty-two years in some kind of front-of-house, back-of-house capacity on Broadway. I am a member of two unions and my husband is a member of another. My cat’s name is Sammy and he’s a little bit of a dick – mostly because he’s too smart for his own good. I was born and raised just outside of Chicago and I am a passionate Chicago Cubs fan. Ramus Catuli!

I first became interested in the digital humanities when I asked to work on the Harry Watkins Diary project, headed by my thesis advisor, Amy Hughes. I worked for two years on the online edition, learning XML and working very closely with Hughes on the transcription and editing process (I can read nineteenth-century handwriting like a boss now, which has been extremely useful in my research). Mostly, I’m chasing the high of that work – I love the archive, particularly working with original manuscripts and photographs. The literal smell of history, right? That’s the smell of survival, right? And that’s what the archive is about – survival.

I believe very strongly in the cultural importance of the historian and of the historian’s role as a critic and observer of the arts/artists. What is remembered and how it is remembered is an active and activist project. My dissertation topic concerns the telling and retelling of Civil War and Reconstruction history through popular culture, particularly history-centered film and musical theatre (which are most definitely in conversation with one another). The inability and unwilingness of hegemonic (read: white) society to address the deep wounds still festering within U.S. cultural/historical discourse since before the founding of the nation should concern us as a populace, much more than it does.  History-telling has improved since my childhood – many more forgotten/ignored/repressed voices are being rediscovered and celebrated and HEARD. But popular culture is a sluggish thing that easily falls back on old modes of expression and lazy glossings of historical narratives. Still, popular (and commercial) culture is also imbued with strange ambiguities, contradictions, and breakages, attracting me in ways that much activist and avant-garde art does not. As with the study of history itself (whatever that means), what is interesting is not having what I already believe confirmed or reaffirming what a work would like me to believe, but instead glimpsing all of the cracks and fissures inside of a piece. I research, read, and attend theatre and film (and watch TV) for these reasons.

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