The Humanities Center was thrilled to receive applications from some 41 faculty to form 14 Summer Research Circles to engage in collaborative work during a time of social distancing, whether through writing projects or through study groups about issues of racism and systemic inequality. Please enjoy this inspiring list of projects and join me and the Advisory Board in congratulating all participants.
Summer Research Circle awards, summer 2020:
Racial Identity and Ethnicity in the Ancient World
Jake Morton, Clara Hardy, and Chico Zimmerman will select and read primary sources (e.g. the ancient writers Herodotus, Caesar, Strabo, & Tacitus) and secondary sources (e.g. works by the scholars Gruen, McInerney, Hall, Briant, & Malkin) on concepts of racial identity, ethnicity, and ‘superiority’ in the ancient Mediterranean world.
Discussing Blackness in the French Context
Cathy Yandell, Eva Posfay, Chrsitine Lac, Stephanie Cox, and Sandra Rousseau will read and discuss Black France/France Noire (Eds. Keaton, Sharpley-Whiting, Stovall), a collection of articles written mostly by historians of France and the French Empire, to help frame the question of blackness and otherness into broader questions of identity, memory and race politics.
Book and study group on Ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want To Talk About Race?
Catherine Licata and Juliane Schicker will read and discuss this work and other sources as a way of thinking about anti-racism in their scholarship and teaching.
Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy: How COVID-19 and Racial Justice Shape Liberal Arts Research and Teaching
Christina Farhart, Summer Forester, Meredith McCoy, Helen Minsky, Ethan Struby, and Rou-Jia Sung will read and discuss three books exploring how both COVID-19 and the struggle for racial justice infuse, inform, and affect roles as scholars and teachers at a liberal arts institution.
Comparison and Discussion of the Historical Black and Indigenous Experiences in the US
Charisse Burden-Stelly, Eddie O’Byrn, and Meredith McCoy will read and discuss three texts, The Black Shoals (Tiffany Lethabo King), Otherwise Worlds (King, Levarro, and Smith), and Theft is Property (Robert Nichols), to study the connections between enslavement, settler colonialism, Jim Crow, Indian removal, and ongoing state violence against Black and indigenous people.
Pre-Modern Writing Group
Sonja Anderson, Pierre Hecker, Jessica Keating, Yaron Klein, and William North are each working on individual writing projects. The group will share research, comment on drafts, and generally provide a supportive structure that encourages progress and intellectual excitement.
Studying Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the Perspectives of Indigenous Scholars on Environmental Studies
Kim Smith, Daniel Hernández, Nancy Braker, and Dan Maxbauer will read and discuss Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a leading scholar on traditional ecological knowledge and next year’s Chesley lecturer. They will also research the literature on traditional ecological knowledge and perspectives of indigenous scholars on environmental studies and compile a list of resources for environmental studies faculty who want to incorporate this topic into their teaching and/or research.
Race, Caste, and White Supremacy in Contemporary Area Studies
Kristin Bloomer and Paul Petzschmann will discuss recent literature on the role of race in contemporary area studies by exploring the potential for comparison between modern Europe, the United States, and colonial and post-colonial South Asia.
Unraveling the Concept of Community
Mihaela Czobor-Lupp, Summer Forester, and Tun Myint will read and discuss works that explore the question “What is Community?,” endeavoring to understanding the underlying forces that shape inclusion and exclusion of individuals in a society based on race, gender, social economic class, political orientation, professions, skin color, look, and other identities.
Multidisciplinary Writing in Environmental Studies
Constanza Ocampo-Raeder, Tun Myint, and George Vrtis are each working on individual writing projects rooted in their own disciplines but related to overlapping questions in environmental studies. They will be sharing and discussing drafts of their work.
Palmar Alvarez-Blanco, Nikki Melville, and Andrea Mazzariello will reimagine creativity in ways that engage and amplify the work of social justice and equity. They are interested in thinking about creativity, artistic practice, curation, and how these can bring about transformative and sustainable change in institutions and systems. To this end, they will study three works: Against Creativity (Oli Mould), The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paolo Freire), and “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak).
“Race and Racism in Social Philosophy and Theory across the Disciplines”
Lori Pearson and Charisse Burden-Stelly will read and discuss The Fetish Revisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make, by J. Lorand Matory (Duke, 2018) to help inform scholarly projects currently in progress, and to reflect on how they teach social theory and race in their own classes, especially with an eye to their own subject locations and questions of truth and normativity.
“Poetry and Politics in Antebellum New York: The Crew at Pfaff’s Beer Cellar”
Peter Balaam and Baird Jarman will examine the interconnections (with Pfaff’s Beer Cellar in New York as social hub) of antebellum political views and styles with both political journalism and with Whitman’s fashioning of a novel, urban, explicitly “democratic” poetic persona.
“Documenting Belonging: Fostering Civic Engagement, Collaboration, and Reciprocity through Participatory Community Media”
Emily Oliver and Laska Jimsen will research and develop an article based on their presentation at the fall 2019 national “Imagining America” gathering, and will read texts about participatory processes and social justice in pedagogy, community engagement, and organizing.