Author: Della Zazzera, Elizabeth

Fellow’s Talk: Elizabeth Athens on William Bartram’s Vision of the Natural World

2021–21 UCHI Fellow's Talk. An Essay Towards a Natural History of William Bartram's Drawings. Assistant Professor of Art History Elizabeth Athens with a response by Helen M. Rozwdowski. Live. Online. Registration Required. January 27, 2021, 4:00pm.

An Essay Towards a Natural History of William Bartram’s Drawings

Elizabeth Athens (Assistant Professor of Art History)

with a response by Helen M. Rozwadowski (Professor of History, UConn)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 4:00pm (Online—Register here)

The act of drawing or “figuring” provided the American naturalist William Bartram (1739–1823) a model for understanding the natural world. Bartram saw figuring as a series of reciprocal interactions among natural world, artist, and audience, a view that coincided with his belief in a dynamic, responsive cosmos. Though the term ecology is of nineteenth-century origin, the study of the natural world’s relationships emerges in the eighteenth, and this presentation examines the affinity between Bartram’s graphic work and an interconnected natural world. In particular it considers how his drawings—by calling attention to their construction through visual quotations, jostling perspectives, and unusual flourishes—presented a new mode of natural history representation, one in which they function as extensions of the natural world’s own organic processes and patterns.

Elizabeth Athens is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses on museum studies, histories of collecting, and material culture. She previously served as part of the research team for the History of Early American Landscape Design database at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C., and as the American art curator of the Worcester Art Museum. Her current research centers on the work of the American artist-naturalist William Bartram (1739–1823), whose efforts helped redirect the taxonomic focus of eighteenth-century natural history to the study of lived relationships. This project examines Bartram’s unusual graphic practice and how his natural history drawings helped articulate such a shift.

Founder of the University of Connecticut’s Maritime Studies program, Helen M. Rozwadowski teaches history of science and environmental history as well as interdisciplinary and experiential maritime-related courses. She has spent her career encouraging scholars and students to join in writing the history of interconnections between oceans and people. Her book on the 19th-century scientific and cultural discovery of the depths, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea, won the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize for best book directed to a wide public audience. In The Sea Knows No Boundaries she explores the history of 20th-century marine sciences that support international fisheries and marine environmental management. Recently she has co-edited Soundings and Crossings: Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970, one of several volumes that have established the field of history of oceanography. Her recent book, Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans (Reaktion Books, 2018), which won the Sharon Harris Book Award from UCHI in 2019, has come out in a Korean edition in 2019 and a Chinese edition in 2020.

Registration is required for the event.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057.

Statement Regarding the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol

Truth matters. As yesterday’s horrifying events illustrate, this is not an abstract principle, but a core practical commitment of democratic governance. When we ignore reality, dismiss the evidence, or simply encourage those who do so, we eat away at the foundations of our republic.

The value of truth in a democracy consists, most fundamentally, in the value of its pursuit through inquiry—the pursuit of the political facts, historical and literary context, and the basic principles of ethics—and through the different forms of knowledge and artistic expression cultivated in the humanities. In better times we often leave these things unsaid; but in times of crisis, they must be said, with fortitude and clarity.

We at the UConn Humanities Institute proudly reaffirm our commitment to these values—to justice, to democracy, to truth.

Michael P. Lynch
Director, UConn Humanities Institute
UConn Humanities Institute Logo, Future of Truth Logo

Announcing NEHC Faculty of Color Working Group Mellon Fellowships

With the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New England Humanities Consortium’s Faculty of Color Working Group is pleased to accept applications for two (2) Mellon Faculty Fellowships in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences for the 2021–2022 academic year. The fellowship is intended for full-time faculty members from historically disadvantaged racial groups or those whose projects specifically confront institutional blocks for BIPOC faculty. The Mellon Faculty of Color Fellowship program seeks to relieve scholars of institutional hindrances by providing resources to reduce many of the barriers that make it difficult for faculty of color to research, think, and engage in their transformative work at their home institutions. These fellowships will provide resources that will allow them the time and space to focus on their scholarship away from the typical demands levied on their own campuses. Fellows will spend their fellowship year at a NEHC host institution with opportunities to interact with a broad and relevant intellectual community. Applicants are limited to faculty from NEHC member institutions, including the University of Connecticut, and are due February 1, 2021Applications must be submitted via Interfolio.
For more details, see the call for applications.

Call for Applications: 2021–22 UCHI Faculty of Color Working Group Fellowship

With the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Connecticut, UCHI, together with the Faculty of Color Working Group of the New England Humanities Consortium, is pleased to accept applications for the UCHI/FOCWG Faculty Fellowship for the 2021-2022 academic year. The fellowship is intended for full-time UConn faculty members from historically disadvantaged minority groups and/or those whose projects specifically confront institutional blocks for BIPOC faculty.

Criteria for successful applicants include, but are not limited to: quality of research proposal; strength of reference letters; and articulation within the proposal of how this project can contribute to a larger support network for faculty of color in the region and/or to understanding and addressing impediments to success for BIPOC faculty in higher education.

Applications for the UCHI/FOCWG Fellowship are due on February 1st and should be submitted through UCHI’s regular fellowship application portal on Interfolio. All submission requirements are identical to regular UCHI Humanities fellowships; and applicants will be assessed by the same interdisciplinary review panel of outside academics. When applying, we ask that you indicate on the application form that you would like to be considered for the UCHI/FOCWG Fellowship. Indicating that you would like to be considered for the UCHI/FOCWG Fellowship does not preclude you from being offered a UCHI Fellowship—indeed, any application for the UCHI/FOCWG fellowship is considered as an application for a standard UCHI fellowship.

UCHI/FOCWG Fellows are full members of the UCHI fellowship class and have all the same benefits and responsibilities. See here for fellowship application materials and further information on the fellowship program.


Call for Applications: 2021–2022 UCHI Fellowships

Where can the humanities take us? UCHI invites applications for its annual residential fellowships. Apply by February 1, 2021.

UCHI is very excited to announce that applications are now open for our 2021–2022 residential fellowships. Our fellowships include a stipend, office space, and all the benefits of a Research I university. Just as important, we provide community and time for scholars to write, argue, engage, and create.

UCHI offers residential fellowships in three categories: UConn Dissertation Research Fellowships, UConn Faculty Fellowships, and Visiting Scholar Fellowships. UConn Faculty fellowships include the UCHI Faculty of Color Working Group fellowship, intended for full-time UConn faculty members from historically disadvantaged minority groups and/or those whose projects specifically confront institutional blocks for BIPOC faculty.

Qualified applicants in all three fellowship categories are invited to apply via Interfolio by February 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm. Each fellowship’s application page provides a position description, qualifications, and application requirements. Applicants to each position receive a free Interfolio Dossier account and can send all application materials, including confidential letters of recommendation, free of charge.

Apply for a UConn Dissertation Research Fellowship

Apply for a UConn Faculty Fellowship

Apply for a Visiting Scholar Fellowship

For more details on our fellowships see our Become a Fellow page and read our FAQ. If you have any questions, please write to us at

UCHI Stands in Solidarity with the UVM Humanities Center

Our NEHC partners at the University Vermont Humanities Center have released the following statement on the recently proposed cuts to Humanities programs at UVM. UCHI stands with the UVM Humanities Center in opposing these proposed cuts and in calling for a recognition of the crucial importance of the humanities.

The UVM Humanities Center decries, in the strongest possible terms, the proposal to eliminate humanities departments and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. This proposal does not reflect a “comprehensive commitment to a liberal arts education” (UVM Vision statement), and it undermines the value of the Humanities for our students, faculty, state, and status as Vermont’s flagship land grant university.

As Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill—architect of the land-grant university system— once expressed, humanities are not marginal to the land grant university but lie at its very heart: “The fundamental idea was to offer an opportunity in every state for a liberal and larger education to larger numbers, not merely those destined to enter the sedentary professions, but to those needing higher instruction for the world’s business, for the industrial pursuits and professions of life.” For Morrill, the purpose of the university is not merely technical education; rather it is to create better citizens and strengthen the nation by enriching the human experience.

Through their teaching, research, and public engagement, the faculty of three humanities programs targeted for elimination—Religion, Classics, and Historic Preservation—as well as majors in various foreign languages targeted for elimination, have demonstrated that the Humanities help all students from across the University to:

    • Understand human experience across language, place, and time
    • Empathize with others
    • Think creatively and critically
    • Examine social problems related to race, gender, sex, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, class, and caste
    • Prioritize social justice and equality
    • Build skills in inquiry, writing and critical analysis, the so-called “soft-skills” that are in high demand in diverse careers

The proposal to eliminate these programs and majors based on an arbitrary measure like the number of majors is short-sighted and ignores the importance of these programs for the fulfilment of general education requirements for all students from across the university. Given that this proposal is patently about opening the door to cutting faculty positions, it egregiously ignores the contributions faculty in these programs make to Vermont through their public humanities work, consulting, and leadership in areas such as cultural heritage management, secondary education, teacher training, and humanities and arts programming throughout the state. UVM’s latest attempt to “engage” with Vermont would do well to recognize Humanities faculty are already deeply engaged in Vermont’s communities through a multitude of humanistic and artistic pursuits. Especially galling is the assault it represents on the accomplishments, productivity, and stature of the faculty who teach in these programs, whose contributions to UVM’s national and international reputation are substantial. We have been proud in the Humanities Center to provide direct support and awards to faculty in each of these programs.

Budgets are not apolitical, they are values statements. It is clear from the proposed budgetary cuts that the humanities are not valued at UVM. This is in spite of their inherent merit to our land grant institution, high enrollment courses that serve university mission, and excellent faculty. We question why we cannot invest university resources in academic programs and not bloated administrator salaries, or reform a budget model that systematically produces regular structural deficits to the academic unit that serves the greatest number and variety of students.


Luis Vivanco, Director
Ilyse Morgenstein-Fuerst, Associate Director

Download a PDF of the statement.

Spring 2021 Events

UCHI has an exciting roster of events coming up this Spring, detailed below. Be sure to peruse our offerings and register for the events you’d like to attend. Stay tuned as we announce more upcoming events!

Fellow’s Talk: Elizabeth Athens

January 27, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Amanda Crawford

February 3, 2021



Publishing Now! Humanities Journals

February 10, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Sean Forbes

February 10, 2021



DHMS: Allen Riddell

February 15, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Erica Holberg

February 17, 2021



DHMS: Shaoling Ma

February 22, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Amy Meyers

February 24, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Melanie Newport

March 3, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Helen Rozwadowski

March 10, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Sarah Winter

March 17, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: David Samuels

March 24, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Sara Silverstein

March 31, 2021



Graduate Fellowships in the Humanities and Social Sciences

April 7, 2021



Fellow’s Talk: Scott Wallace

April 7, 2021



DHMS: Simon Burrows

April 21, 2021



The Political Theory Workshop Presents: S. Emre Gercek

The Political Theory Workshop presents:

‘Moral and Material Amelioration of the Lots of All’: Louis Blanc’s Theory of Democratic Associations

S. Emre Gercek, Political Science, UConn
in conversation with Mandy Long, Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy
December 8, 11:00 am–1:00 pm, on Zoom

This paper argues that democracy became an important idea in nineteenth-century Europe because it offered a vocabulary to address the problems of social disintegration and inequality. It turns to Louis Blanc’s work Organization of Labor to demonstrate how democracy expressed the demands for egalitarian solidarity. Particularly important was Blanc’s proposal of “social workshops:” a reorganization of industry in the form of democratic worker associations. Yet, this idea created a novel tension. While Blanc championed democracy to demand the inclusion and enfranchisement of the working class, this demand conflicted with the universalist aspirations of republican citizenship. Blanc reconciled this tension between the images of the working class and the citizen in his socialist and republican ideas when he suggested that democratic associations would allow workers to have egalitarian control over their conditions while simultaneously fostering their habits and opportunities to be participatory citizens.

Co-sponsored by the UConn Humanities Institute

Questions? Email

Download poster.

Publishing NOW: Gita Manaktala of MIT Press

Poster for Publishing NOW with Gita Manaktala of MIT Press in conversation with Alexis L. Boylan. December 2, 2020, 11:00am. Live. Online. Registration Required. With headshot of Manaktala.

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057.

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute presents:

Publishing NOW!

With Gita Manaktala of MIT Press in conversation with Alexis L. Boylan.

December 2, 2020, 11:00am–12:00pm

An online webinar. Event registration is required for attendance.

Gita Manaktala is the Editorial Director of the MIT Press, a publisher of scholarship at the intersection of the arts, sciences, and technology. Known for intellectual daring and distinctive design, MIT Press books push the boundaries of knowledge in fields from contemporary art and architecture to the life sciences, computing, economics, philosophy, cognitive science, environmental studies, linguistics, media studies, and STS. Gita’s own acquisitions are in the areas of information science and communication. Until 2009, she served as the press’s marketing director with responsibility for worldwide promotion and sales. In this role, she helped to develop CISnet, an online collection of the Press’s computer and information science titles, now on the IEEE Explore platform. She has served on the board of directors of the Association of American University Presses and co-chaired its first diversity and inclusion task force, which led to a standing committee dedicated to Equity, Justice, and Inclusion, which she also co-chaired. She is a regular speaker on topics in scholarly communication and publishing.

Alexis L. Boylan is the acting director 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 ofThomas 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.