The Maine Studies (MES) Program explores the places, people, culture, history and stories of Maine. The program offers undergraduate and graduate degree options, featuring online courses for those pursuing education through distance learning.

The Program also organizes projects and events related to the study of Maine from a broad perspective. This includes the current Jack Pine Project, featuring Maine artists helping residents tell their coronavirus stories through the arts.

We are connected with the Maine Folklife Center, which conducts research and training in areas such as oral history, digital storytelling, and the vernacular arts and crafts of northern New England and the Maritimes.

We welcome you to explore this site to learn more about our programs, courses, faculty and students. To ask us questions, please use the Contact Us page.

Chocolate Church Book Features Jack Pine Project

We are very pleased to have The Jack Pine Project featured in a new book by the Chocolate Church in Bath about art created during the pandemic. From Home in Bunny Slippers: Creations from a Community in the Weirdest Year Ever features submissions by writers, visual artists, musicians and others who have been inspired (or perhaps driven to creative madness) by months of pandemic fears and quarantine.

The book contains an essay about The Jack Pine Project written by Maine Studies Director Kreg Ettenger, and featuring art and mini-essays by workshop instructors Carla Tanguay and Jessica Hamilton-Jones. Tanguay reported on her workshop “Songwriting for Survivors,” featuring patients from the Beth Wright Cancer Center in Ellsworth. Hamilton-Jones described her workshop “Coronavirus Mind Mapping” with special needs youth and adults in the Waterville area.

From Home in Bunny Slippers is a product of the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath, Maine. With no live productions during the pandemic, the Center decided to report on what artists in the Midcoast region and beyond were creating during this time of stress, fear, and isolation. The results show a diverse community of creative Maine artists reflecting on themes like home, family, community, loneliness, depression, hope, and optimism.

These are all the things we hoped to explore in The Jack Pine Project as well, and we are proud to be a part of the Chocolate Church’s efforts to document this strange and creative time.

Orders can be placed on the Chocolate Church’s website, and books can be received by mail or picked up at the CCAC in Bath.

The Jack Pine Project: Crisis Meets Community Arts

Jack Pine Logo

The arts are needed more than ever at a time like this. The Jack Pine Project responds to the current crisis by connecting teachers in the arts with cohorts of students from around Maine.

Through a series of workshops, Maine artists, musicians, writers and others will work with various groups to help them express their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and hopes for the future. The project is coordinated by the Maine Folklife Center and Maine Studies Program, with support from the university’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

The title of the project is drawn from the Jack Pine, a species native to Maine that thrives in areas burnt by wildfire, needing the heat of fire to release its seeds. The image of a pine seedling emerging from burnt ground is emblematic of Maine’s reemergence from the COVID-19 pandemic and state of social crisis that we find ourselves in, and the role of the arts in this process.

Click here to learn more about the project and get involved.

Maine Studies and the COVID-19 Pandemic

As you know, the COVID-19 situation has proven highly disruptive to communities around the globe. The University of Maine has not been spared, as all on-campus classes and most events, including athletics and performing arts, for Spring semester have now been cancelled.

The Maine Studies Program is an exception, in that most of our classes are already online, and most of our students take their classes from their homes around the state. So with the exception of one or two classes, our schedule has not been affected.

Allan Jeffs picture.
Artist Allan Jeffs Ulloa.

That said, we were looking forward to several events this spring, including the visit of Puerto Rican artist Allan Jeffs Ulloa as the University of Maine’s spring Libra Diversity Professor. Allan’s visit has been postponed until the fall, with dates to be announced.

Fortunately, we did not have a Framing Maine event planned for this spring. We do plan to have FM#5 next year, but will probably schedule that for Spring 2021 so as not to overlap with Allan’s eventual visit. The topic is still under discussion.

Applications to the Maine Studies Program through the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies will still be accepted for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 as usual. If you would like more information about that program, please reach us directly through our Contact page, or contact the Division of Lifelong Learning’s Advising 

Please note that our physical office in South Stevens Hall is currently closed and will remain so until further notice. We invite you to contact us through email or by phone.

Thank you for your interest, and be well.

– Kreg Ettenger, Coordinator, Maine Studies Program

Three Maine Studies students receive MAIS Degrees

Three students in the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS), conferred by the UMaine Graduate School, completed their degrees in May of 2020. The students were Christopher Betts of Bangor, Brandan Roberts of Waterville, and Paula Sheehan-Kopp of Portland.

Chris Betts (center).

Chris Betts completed a written master’s project that reported on his extensive experience with high school students in Maine’s alternative education system, including the Carleton Project, a private, experiential-learning based program that ran out of the Shaw House in Bangor. Chris employed numerous techniques in projects involving nature, the arts, and hands-on vocational learning, and reported on his experiences and the challenges of working with youth from difficult life circumstances as they negotiated their education.

Brandan created a web-based project using ArcGIS Story Maps on the historical figure Molly Ockett (Mary Agatha), an Abenaki woman who lived most of her life in 18th century western Maine. She was renowned as a healer and “medicine woman,” and is perhaps best known for saving the life (possibly) of an infant who later became Abraham Lincoln’s vice president, Hannibal Hamlin. Brandan’s website talks about her actual life, and describes how she has become both mythologized and caricatured in the parts of Maine she once called home.

Paula Sheehan-Kopp prepared a lengthy, deeply researched presentation on Maine’s Irish heritage that was presented in a COVID-modified virtual conference hosted by the British Association for Irish Studies. In addition, she began work on a website that will serve as a much-needed resource for teachers, researchers, Mainers of Irish descent, and others interested in the long and proud heritage of the Irish in Maine.

All three of the students gave presentations on their work at a virtual graduation ceremony on May 13, 2020. Following their presentations, Dr. Scott Delcourt, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School, virtually “hooded” the three MAIS recipients. The three also received copies of the Historical Atlas of Maine, edited by UMaine Professor of Geography Stephen Hornsby, and emeritus Professor of History Richard Judd, courtesy of the Maine Studies Program.

We heartily congratulate all three graduates of the MAIS degree, Maine Studies track, and wish them well in their future journeys!