Glenn Hinson Goes Where
The Community Speaks for Itself
We tend to think of classrooms, libraries and labs as the sanctuaries ofscholarly pursuit. Glenn Hinson would have us step out of
the box, out into the open air - way out.
The chair of Carolina's curriculum in folklore fol-
lows the trail of artists and their stories wherever it
may lead him - anywhere from churches to restau-
rants to appliance repair shops.
At a gospel performance several years ago, Hinson
heard a local group called the Branchettes."Their
performance electrified the congregation," Hinson
said. "I talked to them afterwards, and that chance
encounter resulted in a book and a CD we're now
The book is Fire in My Bones) a collaborative
work by Hinson and members of the Durham com-
munity that explores performance, artistry and spiri-
tuality in Mrican-American churches. The ethnogra-
phy won the 2000 Chicago Folklore Prize, an inter-
national award for the most outstanding folklore
scholarship ofthe year.
On another occasion, Hinson read an article in a
newspaper about an appliance repairman who makes
sculptures by twisting and shaping 32-strand power
cable and bits of freezers, air conditioners, refrigera-
tors and other appliances without using power tools.
Hinson called around to find out where the man
lived and drove to Gastonia to meet him.
"I thought this guy sounded interesting. [ went to
his shop and said, 'I want to know about what you
do.' And I tried to think about other people I know
who can help him."
Hinson and his colleagues helped the artist con-
nect with local teachers to deliver a workshop, which
likely will lead to more school workshops. "He's
never had a showing of his work, and we're helping
Carolina has a
strong tradition of
through their lesser-
known artists, says
Hinson, who helped
get this recognition
for Durham's blues
CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW