All Things Local
Every place is filled with stories, and Max Thelander, Class of 2008, can't resist the impulse to discover and record them. An American studies major, Thelander finds stories all over--in his suburban hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts; in the urban landscape of San Francisco, California, where he once lived; and in the rural communities of Knox County, Ohio, surrounding Kenyon.
For Thelander, who arrived at Kenyon as a transfer student in January 2005, the small towns and farming communities of central Ohio came as a kind of revelation. "It was a side of America I had never really been in touch with," he says. "I felt that I couldn't go on having such a disconnect from such a big part of America."
And so he set out to explore and to document, with tape recorder, notepad, and camera in hand. The stories he found were so compelling that he envisioned an online magazine to share them with the world.
He calls the magazine Genius Loci: A Journal of the Local, and once it hits its stride, it will feature not only Thelander's work but also the work of other students as well as stories and photos submitted by area residents. "It seems like everybody has some kind of unique idea that would be good for Genius Loci," he says.
Thelander immersed himself in documentary work during the 2005-06 academic year, when he took the sociology and American studies seminar "Fieldwork: Rural Life," in which students learn fieldwork and oral-history techniques first-hand by undertaking projects in Knox County. Recently the course has focused on the local food system, from farmers to truckers.