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Talking in Pictures: Developing a Visual Vocabulary to Show - and Tell - American's Stories

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Reception to follow

Members fee ($0) and Non-members fee ($15).

Daguerreotype of east side of the Capitol in 1846 by John Plumbe
Daguerreotype of east side of the Capitol in 1846 by John Plumbe

Kitty Eisele

Talking in Pictures:  Developing a Visual Vocabulary to Show - and Tell - American's Stories

The Athenæum’s collections have been used by scholars and researchers for more than 200 years. In more recent decades, filmmakers and producers have used the collections to inform their projects, such as Kitty Eisele’s The Civil War, a documentary film series directed by Ken Burns with images from the Athenæum’s Prints & Photographs collection.

As Supervising Senior Editor at NPR’s Morning Edition, Kitty Eisele makes her living with words. Many years before that, she worked in pictures – as an Emmy Award-winning producer of The Civil War series with Ken Burns, and other documentaries on American history and culture. In fact, the Athenæum’s collections were used to tell the story in The Civil War–Ken Burns and his team researched the series at 10 ½ Beacon Street. Now, as digital media becomes more dominant in our everyday lives, she’s found herself asking how we communicate in this new language – a primarily visual language. What does it mean to use images as an increasingly necessary way of telling the news and our own history? How do we develop a language of images that reflects our real experiences? How can we think imaginatively and creatively about what we show and tell? How do we develop a visual vocabulary? From her past year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard she shares her lessons from looking at other forms of communication – languages including dance and architecture – to open up possibilities for talking with pictures – for doing the work of journalism and history by sharing our lives, visually.

Kitty Eisele is a writer, producer, and editor for NPR and PBS. Her film credits include histories of the Civil War, the Congress, Nixon, Lindbergh and Leadbelly, among others. At NPR she’s overseen coverage of all major news events since 1998 for Morning Edition and Weekend All Things Considered, for which she’s been honored by the DuPont and James Beard Awards. She was a 2014-2015 Nieman Fellow at Harvard. She teaches journalism at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

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