Sometimes Cleveland beckons one home: [re]introducing Brandy Schillace

Bucking a long-term trend, some very talented and creative people are returning to Cleveland to ply their métier. In my own family, our daughter Patty found her way back into a rewarding museum career path after being away for five years.  I was pretty much resigned to her long-term absence from the Cleveland scene, when much to my pleasure, she secured a position in the education department of the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Since November 2010, she has been a part of the team fashioning Gallery One, a truly path-breaking endeavor to help visitors “learn how works of art are made, where they come from, and why they are produced.”   To do this, Gallery One makes innovative use of technology, so that art museums across America now want to learn more and perhaps emulate what’s happening here.  Don’t need better testimony than a piece in the New York Times last week, and some videos on the Fast Company website, and of course on the CMA’s own site.  Not all, but many, roads now lead to Cleveland.
A broadly similar development marks the return of Brandy Schillace to Cleveland, and I’ve welcomed her to share in this blog. I first met Brandy in December 2007 when she was a grad student at CWRU and assisting Woody Gaines (Anthropology) in editing Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.  Brandy came to the Dittrick in search of scientific and medical imagery to fashion arresting covers for the journal, and I can recall being impressed by her energy, enthusiasm, and determination.  Those same assets saw her successfully through the M.A. and Ph.D. in the English department here.  From that point of departure, Brandy has developed into an interdisciplinary medical-humanist scholar, who investigates the social and cultural impacts of medical science on literature (and through literature, on readers).  Thus, she finds herself at the intersection of medicine, art, science and culture that we inhabit here at the Dittrick.  We reconnected in the last couple of years through her search for the original 18th century “machine” (midwifery manikin) of William Smellie.  Alas, the trail went cold, but the search made for some fascinating perambulations…
Brandy maintains her own blog, and explains to readers that  “her blogfeatures two subsidiaries: The Fiction Reboot and Literary Medicine’s Daily Dose. The Reboot provides useful tips and information for writers, weekly fiction features and interviews with authors of fiction and poetry. Meanwhile,The Dose honors, supports, and shares perspectives about medicine and humanities across cultures and disciplines. She summarizes her perspective aptly, describing herself as a “rogue scholar,” who looks forward to “branching out beyond the discipline specific and into the wide and welcoming plains of inter-disciplinarity. Fiction and literature, science and history, anthropology and religion: Life is more interesting at the intersection.” Brandy also clearly felt that, for her, Cleveland was the right place to make these connections. For more on her work, check out her personal site.
So, we look forward to collaborating with Brandy, and having her help bring the Dittrick to kindred spirits, especially through this blog.
Jim Edmonson

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