Suitcases Exhibited in Library – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Suitcases Exhibited in Library

Students from introductory psychology courses will exhibit their final projects in the atrium of the Warren Hunting Smith Library during finals week.

The projects evolved out of coursework from Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown’s PSY 100 courses, which examine the history, theory, practice, and stigma surrounding mental health.

This semester, the course included a trip to the Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca, where students attended a lecture by Darby Penney, author and leader in the human rights movement for people with psychiatric disabilities.

Penney spoke about her book “The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” (2008), a stark narrative of 20th century psychiatric care told through the stories of ten people committed to the Willard State Hospital and the contents of their suitcases.

(Read the full story here.)

At the lecture, students were able to examine these suitcases, which are part of a nationally travelling exhibit, and now, as a final component of their coursework this semester, they have constructed their own suitcases.

The students’ suitcases are supplemented with a short essay about “the ways that our understanding of mental illness and treatment has changed over the last 100 years,” Ashdown says, and will be on display in the Library atrium during the following times:

Tuesday, Dec. 3………1 – 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 4………1 – 4 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 5………10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 6………1 – 5:30 p.m.

They will also be displayed during the First-Year Seminar Symposium, Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. in the Geneva and Sanford rooms in the library.

Support for this project came from the Center for Teaching and Learning and the First-Year Seminar program.

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