The College of Innovation and Design and the College of Arts and Sciences kicked off their “MashUp: Little Lectures for an Odd World” series in July, featuring two short presentations on unrelated topics from local experts. The first lecture was on Basque arborglyphs and the second on boy bands and their online fans. After the presentations, audience members were invited to ask questions that connected the two topics in creative ways by “mashing them up.”
The first series featured John Bieter, history professor at Boise State, and Elizabeth Kidd, the City of Boise’s social media manager and a pop culture aficionado. Hosted in an intimate, living-room like setting in Boise State’s Innovation Incubator, the audience explored connections between sheepherders working far from their homelands and online fans swooning over the break-up of boy band One Direction. But there also were moments of reflection and connection as they explored themes of loneliness, connection and human expression.
Bieter’s presentation focused on the fascinating world of arborglyphs, carvings left on trees by Basque sheepherders stretching back decades. The engravings offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the Basque diaspora as they moved from Europe to the U.S. with many settling in Idaho. His expertise shed light on how these arborglyphs served as a form of communication and storytelling for the sheepherders, preserving their traditions and experiences. He also shared valuable insights into the ongoing efforts to digitize and preserve these artifacts, making them accessible to global audiences for research and study.
Kidd brought a contemporary perspective to the event. Drawing on her own experience as a passionate One Direction fan and her perspective as a cultural critic and social media creator, Kidd presented a nuanced portrait of the band’s online fan community that is made up largely of teenage girls. Beyond the music, these fan communities have emerged as powerful and influential entities in online and pop culture meaning-making. Bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones also had massive teen girl followings and fandoms – both bands and fan communities have immeasurably shaped one another. Kidd argued that social media has allowed for girls’ voices and influence to be amplified in the world.
Audience members asked thoughtful, provocative and sometimes hilarious questions that connected the two topics. And after the event, while talking with one another, Kidd revealed that her family had been involved in sheepherding when she was young. “These kinds of connections and conversations are what make MashUp so fun and meaningful,” said Associate Dean of the College of Innovation and Design Jen Schneider. “We want to provide a setting where we can learn something interesting, but also have fun, get energized and be reminded of all the ways we are in this together.”
“Participating in MashUp was a wonderful experience,” said Bieter. “It was great to see the connections that members of the audience made between seemingly disparate topics. I highly recommend participating if you get the chance.”
Attend the next MashUp lecture
All MashUp events are free and open to the public. The first series of MashUp lectures centers around the theme of “Our Digital Future.” Though not every little lecture deals with technology or digital society, every event will address some aspect of the theme – whether it be digital arborglyphs or online fandoms.
The next MashUp, Shadowbanning and Rendezvous Reenactment, will be held Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. in the Albertsons Library – RSVP by Aug. 24. Activist and social media influencer Amy Pence-Brown will present on how Instagram shadowbans activists’ content, while Latin instructor Karen Wadley will talk about her experiences growing up in a family that participated in reenacting fur-trapping rendezvous.
More upcoming MashUp events
AI and Meaning and Spiritual Scuba on Sept. 28 at Lost Grove Brewing (1026 S. La Pointe St.) and Music Meets AI and N-A Cocktails on Oct. 26 at El Korah Shrine (1118 W. Idaho St.). Learn more here.
For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.