PhD Candidate

Dissertation Title: Elsewhere: Facts, Fictions, and Futures in an American Small Town


Briel’s research focuses on the curation of historical legacies in today’s rural communities, particularly as they disrupt straightforward narratives of decline or renewal. Her dissertation research is based on seventeen months of ethnographic and archival fieldwork in New Harmony, Indiana, a small town that has hosted three utopian experiments over the past two centuries. By expanding the notion of archives and curation to personal collections and kitschy interiors, she assesses how everyday objects, activities, and speech contribute to understandings of the past and—as she argues—shape future thinking.