Stargazing: Re/Imagining the Life of Elizabeth (Lizzie) Breckenridge  

What is Stargazing? 

Stargazing is an interdisciplinary arts and humanities project developed during the 2022-2023 academic year.  Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde and Dr. Raymond Wise worked with Indiana University librarian and Wylie House Museum Director Carey Champion, doctoral student Jeffrey Giddings, and students from the African American Arts Institute (AAAI) to research and explore the life (real and re/imagined) of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Breckenridge (1843-1910) through original poetry, prose, music, and performances.   

 IU's Arts and Humanities Center supported Stargazing through its Platform Research Laboratory initiative. Specifically, Stargazing was part of a larger project entitled Bloomington Unbound that invited research and exploration on the history of the city where the university is located. 

Stargazing continues the collaboration that Dr. Abegunde and Dr. Wise began with the Speculative Futures/Faultline research team from 2021-2022, another Arts & Humanities Platform project. As part of that project, the team visited Wylie House and spent time in Lizzie’s room. In response, Dr. Abegunde created four short prose poems that imagined Lizzie’s interior life. Dr. Wise scored and sang the first musical piece, adding nuances that further explored Lizzie’s voice and desires. The Stargazing project builds upon that work through the composition of songs for the remaining three poems. It also extends itself to performances, a graphic novel, additional prose in the form of letters to Lizzie, and a forthcoming digital exhibit featuring a video of the songs performed in Lizzie’s room and other areas of the home.