Skip to content

'Home under seige'

More than a dozen stu­dents in an advanced writing service-​​learning course have each curated two exhibits for the Our Marathon dig­ital archive, a web-​​based, crowd-​​sourced col­lec­tion of pic­tures, videos, and oral his­to­ries in memory of the vic­tims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

They pre­sented their work last Thursday at the Forum Restau­rant, which was heavily dam­aged by one of two bombs that exploded near the Boyl­ston Street finish line.

“One of the rea­sons I wanted to do this off campus is so it aligned with the work we have been doing with a space in the com­mu­nity,” said Eng­lish instructor Vic­toria Papa, who led the course. “In the spirit of resiliency and hope that is Our Marathon, our course, and Forum, here we are bringing our work into the community.”

Northeastern’s NULab for Maps, Texts, and Net­works cre­ated Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Dig­ital Archive, which has cat­a­logued more than 3,000 sto­ries of those affected by the tragic events of April 15 and the days that followed.

One of the two exhibits each stu­dent curated will be avail­able for public viewing, while the other will be avail­able only to aca­d­emic researchers. All of them explored issues ranging from vic­ar­ious trauma and ter­rorism to the media and the economy.

Petula Tournas, SSH’16, left the area near the finish line about half an hour before the bombs went off. Unfor­tu­nately, her friend and fellow North­eastern stu­dent Vic­toria McGrath was sig­nif­i­cantly injured in the attack. For her aca­d­emic exhibit, Tournas inter­viewed McGrath and cre­ated an oral his­tory about her friend and her experience.

“I knew I wanted to somehow incor­po­rate her inspiring and empow­ering story into one of my exhibits,” Tournas said. “And she agreed to share her story because she wanted to give back to North­eastern for every­thing the uni­ver­sity has done for her.”

Sev­eral stu­dents who pre­sented were not in Boston when the attacks occurred because they were on co-​​op or studying abroad. Their exhibits drew on the expe­ri­ence of learning about the bomb­ings from a distance.

Ellie Buck­hout, for example, SSH’15, was on co-​​op in Northern Ire­land at the time of the attack, some 3,000 miles from Boston. Her public exhibit—“Students over­seas, Home under siege”—was influ­enced by news of the bomb­ings’ after­math on the front page of the Belfast Tele­graph.

Over the last months, she asked other North­eastern stu­dents who were out of the country during the bomb­ings to submit a par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable image of the attack, one they saw relating to that fateful day. Then she jux­ta­posed that image and the stu­dents’ story with a photo of the stu­dent on campus.

“It was inter­esting to rep­re­sent what was going on through people’s minds while it was hap­pening, and how they feel now that they are back on campus,” Buck­hout explained.

Trevor Estes, SSH’14, explored the idea of com­mem­o­ra­tion, with par­tic­ular emphasis on the deci­sion by some to get tat­toos in remem­brance of the attack. He scoured Insta­gram and Twitter to find tattoo images and people’s indi­vidual sto­ries behind them.

“I found this inter­esting because it is sym­bolic,” Estes explained.

– By Joe O’Connell

More Stories

Photo of the Capitol Building at night

High stakes for politics, SCOTUS in 2018

Photo of the crashed truck that was used in the October 31st attack in Manhattan.

Weaponizing Language: How the meaning of “allahu akbar” has been distorted

Northeastern logo

Why I love studying Spanish