Michael P. Lynch
Director (on leave through end of Fall 2020)
Michael P. Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life. The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and grants from the Bogliasco Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently the PI of Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and UConn. A frequent contributor to the New York Times “The Stone” weblog, Lynch’s work has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and Wired (among others). He speaks regularly to both academic and non-academic audiences, and has appeared at such venues at TED, Chautauqua, and South by Southwest. He is currently working on a book about arrogance in politics.
Alexis L. Boylan
Alexis L. Boylan is the director of academic affairs of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) and an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Art and Art History Department and the Africana Studies Institute. She is the author of Visual Culture (MIT Press, 2020), Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), co-author of Furious Feminisms: Alternate Routes on Mad Max: Fury Road(University of Minnesota, 2020), editor of Thomas Kinkade, The Artist in the Mall (Duke University Press, 2017), and editor of the forthcoming Ellen Emmet Rand: Gender, Art, and Business (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). She has published in American Art, Archives of American Art Journal, Boston Review, Journal of Curatorial Studies, and Public Books.
Her next book focuses on the art created for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City and how art and science antagonize and inspire cultural dialogues about truth and knowledge.
Acting Director of Academic Affairs
Assistant Director of Digital Humanities and Media Studies
Yohei Igarashi is an associate professor of English. He is the author of The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication (2019). His articles have appeared in New Literary History, Romantic Circles, and Studies in Romanticism, the last receiving the Keats-Shelley Association of America annual essay prize in 2015. His current projects are on topics including the datafication of literary works and the history of the relation between high school and collegiate literary studies.
Jo-Ann Waide has been Program Coordinator at the Humanities Institute since its founding in 2001. She is also a grant manager for the Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life program. She earned a Masters of Arts degree from UConn’s Communication Sciences department and a Bachelor of Sciences in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Before coming to UConn she completed interpreter training at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and worked as a free-lance sign language interpreter in Western Massachusetts. After graduate school, Jo-Ann was employed as a grant manager for a collaborative project between the American School for the Deaf (ASD) and the CT Department of Children and Families. At the conclusion of the grant, she was hired as a school administrator at ASD where she served on the senior management team for several years. She has lived in Storrs long enough to witness the transformation of Storrs to the Downtown Partnership from the small town center consisting of the Universal grocery, Phil’s five-and-dime store, Farr’s Sporting Goods, and the Cup O’ Sun restaurant.
Nasya Al-Saidy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics department at the University of Connecticut. Her research focus is on Environmental Economics and Microeconomics. At the University of Massachusetts Boston, her thesis explored the cost-effectiveness of phytoremediation to reduce brownfield pollution in Boston’s low-income urban areas. Her current work seeks to extend and improve upon the game theoretic models used within the emissions permit market. She is currently serving as a financial coordinator for the Humanities Institute and fiscal officer for the Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project. Nasya also serves as President of the Association of Graduate Economics Students and as a senator in the Graduate Student Senate.
Elizabeth Della Zazzera
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Elizabeth Della Zazzera is a historian of modern Europe. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and comes to the Humanities Institute after spending two years as ACLS/Mellon public fellow and digital producer at the magazine of history and ideas Lapham’s Quarterly. Her scholarship focuses on how ideas move on the ground—how their method of transmission and dissemination affects the ideas themselves—with a particular emphasis on the intellectual history of material texts and urban environments in revolutionary and post-revolutionary France. Her current book project explores the role of the periodical press, the theatre, and literary sociability in the bataille romantique: the conflict between romantics and classicists. It argues that this public conflict—in the press, on the stage, and in salons—helped to consolidate and define each genre. She is also working on a project about the relationship between new urban technologies and ideas in pre-Haussmann Paris.
Drew Johnson is a Ph.D. student (ABD) in the philosophy department at the University of Connecticut. His research focuses on metaethics and epistemology. His dissertation proposes a theory of ethical thought and discourse that explains the distinctive action-guiding, affective, and expressive dimensions of ethical claims and judgments, while also recognizing the important semantic, logical, and epistemological continuities that exist between ethics and other factual domains. In epistemology, Drew’s research focuses on the rational standing of our most firmly held commitments, i.e., our "hinge" commitments upon which all rational evaluation turns. He has published several articles on this topic: "Deep Disagreement, Hinge Commitments, and Intellectual Humility”, and "Hinge Commitments, Radical Skepticism, and Domain Specific Skepticism." He has also co-authored several works on self-knowledge with Dorit Bar-On. Drew is currently a research assistant at the Humanities Institute. View Drew’s website.
Daniel Pfeiffer is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in contemporary American fiction and culture, with a particular focus on political economy. His dissertation-in-progress studies New York City art novels after the creative economic turn. He is currently serving as a research assistant for the Humanities Institute.
World Poetry Books, Editor
Brian Sneeden is the author of the poetry collection, Last City (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2018). His poetry and translations have been awarded the Iowa Review Award in Poetry, the World Literature Today Translation Award for Poetry, the Indiana Review 1/2K Prize, a PEN/Heim Translation Grant, and fellowships from Bread Loaf and the American Literary Translators Association. His translation of Phoebe Giannisi’s poetry collection, Homerica(2017) was selected by Anne Carson as a favorite book of 2017 in The Paris Review. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Harvard Review, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications. Brian received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship in creative writing and served as poetry editor for Meridian. He is the Program Coordinator of Translation Studies at the University of Connecticut, where he serves as Managing and Senior Editor of World Poetry Books.
James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology
Richard Sosis is the James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He is a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and affiliated with the UConn Humanities Institute and Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. The central theme of his past and current research is human sociality. His work explores the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation, with particular interests in ritual, magic, morality, and the dynamics of religious systems. To explore these issues, he has conducted fieldwork with remote cooperative fishers in the Federated States of Micronesia and with various communities throughout Israel. He is cofounder and coeditor of the interdisciplinary journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, which publishes research on the bio-cultural study of religion.