From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

From the Geil Archive (10)—One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

Click here for other posts in the Round and Square series "From the Geil Archive":
               Introduction                              1-Southern Mountain Museum             2-Sacred Mountain Map           
               3-Hat and Cattle                       4-Seeking Anthropology                       5-Curly Fives
               6-How to Write the Book          7-Mortarboard Man                               8-Orator
               9-Naming (Un)Conventions     10-Unlike the Others                            11-
[a] Later Era RF
Today's Guest Contributor on Round and Square is Amara Pugens. Amara is from Brookfield, Wisconsin, and recently  graduated from Beloit College with a B.A. in history and anthropology and a minor in museum studies. She is currently working with four other Beloit College graduates to digitize, process, and research the William Edgar Geil Collection at the Doylestown Historical Society in Pennsylvania.
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Please note that all items marked "DHS" are property of the Doylestown Historical Society, and used with DHS permission. If you wish to use an image, you need permission of the Society. Please contact Robert LaFleur (, and he will put you in contact with the appropriate people.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others 
I first learned of William Edgar Geil in a class I took with Rob LaFleur called "Calendars and Almanacs in East Asia." Geil was described as a grand traveler at the turn of the twentieth century who documented his experiences through central Africa, across the Great Wall, and down the Yangzi River.  When I later took a course (again with Rob LaFleur) called "The Accidental Ethnographer," I discovered more about the man behind the explorer—finishing the class with a ten-thousand word essay that attempted to describe his character and personality based on his personal archives. Therefore before arriving at the Doylestown Historical Society, I knew quite a bit about Geil; I had read his books, analyzed his files, written papers, and studied articles about him. 

All this background information did not, however, prepare me for the following headline:
[b] Unlike the Others DHS
At first glance, I could not help but think: one of these things is not like the others. Pictured with his fellow laymen, Geil stands apart, dressed in an ostentatious explorer outfit with a perfectly placed journal and goofy hat. The photograph illustrates that though Geil was an evangelist, the title did not define him, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. While the word "evangelist" today might evoke ideas of stuffy men in starched collars, Geil turned this image on its head. While we may think it silly today, by presenting himself as an adventurer in his exploration gear, Geil claims his authenticity as an evangelist. Compared to all the other churchmen, Geil was a true evangelist because he was also an adventurer.
[c] Different RF

This photograph of Geil helped prove his validity, discrediting any who thought him fake. It presents him as the "Big White Chief" traveling around the world to visit different peoples and conduct various missions. Not a doctor, professor, or reverend, he still held importance because he took action—doing what he preached, instead of simply lecturing about it.

In her "Naming (Un)Conventions" post on September 16th, Rachel Johnson wrote that Geil "was not always taken seriously, even at the time of his travels."  Although today we think he may not be helping his cause for authenticity with this image, in 1916—when traveling was much more  difficult and dangerous—this photograph of Geil shows us what evangelism meant to him. In presenting himself this way, Geil challenges our perceptions of what it means to be an evangelist.
[d] Explorin' RF

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