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The Story Behind the Story

How many stories lie behind a few simple lines of a newspaper story? This summer and fall, I’ll have a chance to see how deep and wide those roots extend.

The Princeton University 250th Fund for “innovation in teaching” just announced that they are supporting this Fall’s iteration of Documentary Film and the City. The spirit of the class will remain unchanged, but the approach and focus is changing: I’ll be teaming up with history professor Alison Isenberg who brought this headline and article to my attention a few years ago. Together, we plan to devote URB202 to a retrospective look at the 1968 unrest in Trenton and the facts surrounding the death of one young black college student who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

Our collaboration will be an opportunity to look not only at the 1960s, race and media representation, but also a chance to compare and integrate our two disciplines. Students will straddle the two genres, writing both history papers and editing short historical documentary sketches. And the work begins in June and August, when former and future URB202 students will begin combing through the archives in Trenton.

For us, the work has begun already.

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