Skip to main content

Ariannah Kubli, a fourth-year PhD student in the ECL department, recently published an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Making Space for the Humanities Off Campus: Night School Bar and the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research offer alternatives to traditional academe.”

The story focuses on Night School Bar, a program in Durham founded by Lindsey Andrews. Kubli writes: “This independently run program offers pay-what-you-can arts and humanities courses to interested adults, no application or prerequisites required.” Kubli discusses the history of Night School Bar, which began on Zoom in 2020. 

Similar programs have popped up in other parts of the country, such as the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, showing a hunger for learning outside of the university. Kubli writes about the significance of such organizations: “In a climate in which universities continuously disinvest from the arts and humanities, programs like Night School Bar and the Brooklyn Institute encourage us to ask a provocative question: What could communal study look like beyond the confines of institutions increasingly apathetic, if not openly hostile, to our work?”

Kubli first pitched the story in Prof. Stephanie DeGooyer’s Fall 2023 seminar on the Public Humanities: “Dr. DeGooyer’s public humanities seminar was truly invaluable. We drafted pitches for four public-facing pieces, and we workshopped those pitches as a group. I had never written a pitch before, and I never would have even known where to start without Dr. DeGooyer’s guidance. Also, I’m really grateful to have been able to not only learn what a pitch is and how to write one, but to receive feedback on my pitches from my peers! After we polished our drafts, Dr. DeGooyer’s encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to actually send my ideas to editors. When someone with such an impressive record of both academic and public-facing writing tells you to send the pitch, you get over yourself and you send the pitch!” 

Kubli’s idea for the piece shifted as she began working with The Chronicle: “I actually pitched the piece as an interview rather than an essay. I had heard about Night School Bar, and I was excited about the work they were doing. I thought an interview with Lindsey Andrews would give me an opportunity to learn more and to spotlight her ideas. I had seen local news pieces about the grand opening of NSB’s physical location (they’d previously only offered classes on Zoom), but none of those pieces really looked closely at how the myriad of crises within traditional academe– student debt, adjunctification, dropping humanities enrollments, etc.– informed the development and goals of NSB. I hoped an interview could give Lindsey the space to discuss her work in more depth and with an eye towards that context. When I pitched the idea to The Chronicle, they were intrigued, but they told me they’d like something with a broader focus. So, I expanded the scope of the piece.”

When asked if she sees herself doing more public writing in the future, Kubli said, “absolutely,” as she learned “so much” from this experience: “I learned what working with an editor is like; I learned to write in a genre I’ve never attempted before; I learned that I need to quit saying, ‘I’ll do the public writing I’d like to do as soon as [insert ever-moving target here],’ and instead just do what I really want to do now.”

Read Kubli’s piece here.

Comments are closed.