Fellowship

20 Years of Fellows: Joseph Ulatowski

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Headshot of Joseph Ulatowski2019–2020 Visiting Fellow Joseph Ulatowski is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, and Director of the Experimental Philosophy Research Group at the University of Waikato. His research focus is the nature and value of truth, the problem of action individuation, self-narratives, and practical challenges that arise from these theoretical areas. His approach to these matters is pluralistic, employing both traditional philosophical methods and empirical methods.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship project explored the fundamental question: why do facts matter? The philosophical study of facts has largely focused upon metaphysical questions: What are facts? What is their structure? Do they even have a nature? In the book resulting from the fellowship project, aptly titled Why Facts Matter, I investigate how our answers to these questions are driven by contextual factors and pragmatic considerations. The metaphysics of facts has to be responsive to practical considerations. If this is correct, then what facts are is sensitive to whether and how they are valued.

Would you give us an update on the project?

The book is nearly complete, but then again I imagine any author would say that. Over the course of this project, I have witnessed how our collective relationship to facts has evolved. While I think we have a greater appreciation of facts, some people, what I call “social bandits,” have become more savvy in evading or manipulating them. Gatekeepers, in conjunction with upholding high standards and practices of one’s discipline, have been charged with protecting facts from these bandits. Yet, as I claim in the book, even these gatekeepers are susceptible to psychological biases and colonialist attitudes. Because of this ever-evolving situation, I get stuck into closing and reopening parts of chapters I had thought were complete. So, nearly complete!

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I left the Institute with a much different and, to my mind, far better project than the one I entered with. Before my year at UCHI, I thought of my project as constrained to the philosophical problem of facts. A project on facts, I quickly learned, should be informed not just by what philosophers have said about them but by what others working in the humanities and sciences more generally say about them. The discussions and conversations I had with others at UCHI reshaped the project, allowing me to bring ideas from the history and philosophy of science, literature, sociology, anthropology, and psychology to bear on why facts matter.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

The AY 2019–2020 was likely one of the most unusual academic years in modern memory because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, if there was a moment that stood out to me, it was Nathan Braccio’s talk on Algonquian and English spatial understandings of New England. Listening to his presentation and speaking with him throughout the year recalibrated my understanding of the purpose of maps. Here was my naïve view: maps represent how things stand in the world. Maps are pictorial facts! Nathan’s presentation brought to light that maps are a means of expressing how one understands and appreciates the space around them. My naïve view of facts was shattered; hearing about Nathan’s project was a watershed moment that began my thinking more perspicuously about a fact’s normative value and how such value plays a much more significant role in the nature of facts than philosophers had acknowledged.

What are you working on now (or next)?

While I am finishing Why Facts Matter, two projects are on my mind. One is a project with my University of Waikato colleague, Jeremy Wyatt. In collaboration with an international team of scholars, we’ve undertaken a University-funded project called Truth without Borders. The main purpose of this project is to better appreciate how truth is used, understood, and valued in different languages. The second project is in a more nascent stage. Tentatively titled, War of the Words: Truth and Virtue in Everyday Communication, I question what it means for truth to win out over falsehood in a marketplace of ideas and attempt to deal with deeply polarized views, whether in politics or elsewhere, by arguing that we should institute rules of conversational conduct to govern our speech acts, much like we institute rules of conduct in war.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

The paramount challenge facing the future of knowledge is the jaded, one-dimensional and westernized view that Enlightenment science is going to solve all the riddles, puzzles, and paradoxes of humanity. Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies, like those found in Māori and Pasifika communities, not only deserve to be a resource for science but they should be a driving force in the sciences. Such epistemologies have been unjustly suppressed and marginalized because of an overly colonialist perspective that science be restricted to one-way of doing it. Providing intellectual space and listening intently to Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies is likely the most promising and exciting prospect for the future of knowledge.

20 Years of Fellows: Dimitris Xygalatas

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Dimitris Xygalatas headshot2016–2017 Faculty Fellow Dimitris Xygalatas is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UConn. His interests include ritual, sports, cooperation, the interaction between cognition and culture, and the impact of cultural practices on psychophysiological wellbeing. His research combines laboratory and field methods to study human interaction in real-life settings. He has conducted several years of fieldwork in Southern Europe and Mauritius. Before coming to UConn, he held positions at the universities of Princeton, Aarhus, and Masaryk, where he served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA). At UConn, he directs the Experimental Anthropology Lab, which develops methods and technologies for quantifying behavior in real-life settings. He is affiliated with the Cognitive Science Program, the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship led to the development of a book proposal, a project that summarizes my work on ritual from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Would you give us an update on the project?

It is called Ritual: How Seemingly Senseless Acts Make Life Worth Living. I am happy to say that is has now been completed and is scheduled to come out this spring by Profile Books.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

In a practical sense, having dedicated time to work on a single project is invaluable to any academic. I simply wouldn’t have been able to get this project off the ground without this fellowship. But perhaps more importantly, my work is radically interdisciplinary. I hold the view that anyone who is trying to understand human behavior should not only move between scientific and humanistic perspectives, but in fact be scientific and humanistic at the same time. Unfortunately, the way contemporary academia is set up, there are both practical and ideological obstacles to this consilience. Thankfully, there are structures like UCHI that supersede disciplinary divisions, allowing their members to venture into more holistic perspectives.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

All the vibrant conversations we had, often into the late evening, after the weekly talks, some of the best of them with people you’ve never met before.

What are you working on now (or next)?

It is partly a natural extension of my previous work, but one that has become much more salient to me since the pandemic broke out. I’m interested in cultural practices (think of ritual, art, sports, and music) as tools for resilience in the face of adversity.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

Oh, boy! Unfortunately, knowledge is not what it used to be. In recent years, we are seeing that the very things that promised to democratize knowledge (things like the internet and the social media) have become tools for the subversion of knowledge, Truth, facts, and even reality itself. Worst of all, this subversion seems to be an emergent phenomenon rather than being imposed from the top (those in the top often merely ride the wave), which likely makes it far more difficult to deal with as well as more dangerous. The fact that UCHI has been discussing these issues for years is tremendously important for the future of knowledge.

Humanities Research Fellowship Information Session

Humanities research fellowships for UConn undergraduates. Information Session. January 27, 2022, 2:00pm. Live. Online. Registration required.

Humanities Research Fellowship Information Session

January 27, 2022, 2:00pm

Live • Online • Registration required

We are holding an information session for prospective applicants for the 2022–23 Humanities Research Fellowship—a year-long fellowship for UConn undergraduates pursuing innovative research in the humanities. In this session, we will go over the application process, offer tips and tricks for writing a compelling application, and answer questions. Register now.

For more details on the fellowship, see the call for applications. Applications are due February 18, 2022.

ACCESS NOTE

This meeting will have automated captioning available. If you require other accommodations to attend, please email uchi@uconn.edu or contact us by phone at (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpreting, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

20 Years of Fellows: Katherine Rye Jewell

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Katherine R. Jewell2018–2019 Visiting Fellow Katherine Rye Jewell is Associate Professor of History at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. She is the author of Dollars for Dixie: Business and the Transformation of Conservatism in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017). She is currently writing a history of college radio for University of North Carolina Press.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship project is a history of college radio since the 1960s.

Would you give us an update on the project?

With the work I completed at UCHI, the project is now two books, with one covering the 1960s and 1970s, and the other extending from the 1970s to the present. The latter is almost finished and under contract at UNC Press

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I was able to produce a huge word count that has provided a core foundation for my research. It was absolutely essential time and space to think through a huge amount of research material and to produce narratives from that.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

All the people I met! I formed lifelong friendships with other scholars at UCHI, including creating a writing group that continued after the conclusion of the fellowship.

What are you working on now (or next)?

I am finishing up the book project by this December, and next I’ll turn to the second book that emerges from this research.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

My research looks at radio history, which has been difficult to archive and preserve. Going forward, the preservation of born-digital materials presents a significant challenge, as well as opportunity, for future scholars.

Call for Applications: 2022–23 Undergraduate Humanities Research Fellows

Humanities research fellowships for UConn undergraduates. Apply by February 18, 2022.
The UConn Humanities Institute (UCHI) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) are proud to announce year-long fellowships for undergraduate students pursuing innovative research in the humanities. In this inaugural year of the fellowship, we are offering 2 fellowships.

The fellowship supports a year-long research project supervised by a UConn faculty member. The project should explore big questions about human society and culture and should lead to an original contribution to your area of study. The exact parameters (length, format, etc) will be set by your faculty advisor. Depending on your major and your academic and professional plans, your project may consist of a scholarly research project or a creative product with a significant research component. At the end of the year, students will submit the final project to their faculty advisor, UCHI, and CLAS.

The project should ask questions or explore issues and ideas that feel urgent and exciting to you. We highly encourage proposals for projects that use methods, ideas, and approaches from more than one discipline.

Fellows will be welcomed as members of the Humanities Institute, a lively community of accomplished faculty and graduate student scholars conducting advanced research in the humanities. In addition to immersion in this intellectual community, the fellowship offers:

  • A $2,000 scholarship
  • A desk/work area at UCHI, located conveniently in Homer Babbidge Library for conducting research
  • Bi-weekly check-in meetings
  • A public presentation about the project at UCHI in the spring semester
  • Participation at UCHI’s events (for example, presentations by visiting scholars and artists) and special opportunities to meet with such visiting speakers
  • A field trip or cultural excursion (for example, a visit to a museum or archive) to be announced during the year
  • The opportunity to present your work at the Humanities Undergraduate Research Symposium the fall following your fellowship year
  • 6 credits for the academic year, through the successful completion of one 3-credit independent study each semester with the UConn faculty member supervising your project
  • (For non-Honors students) Admission into the Honors Program through the successful completion of this program, if other Honors admissions criteria are met.

Eligibility

Fellowship applicants should be rising sophomores or rising juniors in good academic standing. Rising seniors are also eligible to apply, but preference will be given to students earlier in their degrees.

Fellows from all campuses are welcome. But fellows are expected to be on the Storrs campus for their bi-weekly meetings. In the event that campus is closed for public health reasons, these meetings will be held virtually and the fellowship will be conducted remotely.

The proposed project should be humanities research. Broadly speaking, the “humanities” means the study of human society and culture. Humanities majors or minors typically include but are not limited to: Africana Studies; American Studies; Anthropology; Art and Art History; Asian and Asian American Studies; English; History; Human Rights; Journalism; Latino and Latin American Studies; Philosophy; Sociology; Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. If you aren’t sure if your project is humanistic, please email uchi@uconn.edu.

Fellows should check individually with the Office of Student Financial Aid Services to ensure that they are eligible to accept the scholarship.

Application

  1. A Word document with answers to the following questions:
    1. What is your project’s title?
    2. What big question(s) is your project asking, and why are those questions important to you, your community, and society? (maximum 300 words)
    3. What is your plan for the project? What work will you do to try to answer its questions? (maximum 300 words)
    4. How do you think working on this project contributes to your own goals? (maximum 200 words)
    5. Optional question: Are there additional factors in your background or life experience that would help you benefit from this opportunity?
    6. Discuss social, economic, educational, or other obstacles, as appropriate. (maximum 300 words)
  1. A writing sample of your best research and writing (for example, your best final paper).
  2. One letter of recommendation from a UConn faculty member that also includes their willingness to supervise the project over the course of an academic year.
  3. An unofficial transcript.

Deadline: Friday, February 18, 2022

All questions and application materials can be sent to uchi@uconn.edu.

We are hosting an information session for prospective applicants on January 27, 2022 at 2:00pm.

Please know while we will make every effort to review submissions as soon as possible, the materials you submit may not be reviewed immediately upon receipt. Please note that all University employees are mandated reporters of child abuse or child neglect. In addition, UConn employees have responsibilities to report to the Office of Institutional Equity student disclosures of sexual assault and related interpersonal violence; any information you submit in this application is subject to UConn reporting policies. If you feel you need more immediate assistance or support, we encourage you to reach out to the Dean of Students Office and/or Student Health and Wellness- Mental Health. In addition, if you have concerns related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and/or stalking, we encourage you to review the resources and reporting options available at: https://titleix.uconn.edu

20 Years of Fellows: Allison Horrocks

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Headshot of Allison Horrocks2015–16 Dissertation Research Scholar Allison Horrocks is a public historian. She works as a Park Ranger at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Pawtucket, RI. Allison is also the co-host of the podcast American Girls.


What was your fellowship project about?

I completed and defended my dissertation "Good Will Ambassador with a Cookbook: Flemmie Kittrell and the International Politics of Home Economics" in March 2016.

During my fellowship year, I was writing a new history of Home Economics in the 20th century. My research focused on work by academics within the discipline who taught at historically black colleges and served in the field of international relations. One of my larger goals was to shift conceptions of what it might mean to study domesticity at home and abroad. This was the culmination of several years of archival work and study in the history of Home Economics.

Would you give us an update on the project?

I am no longer pursuing the project, though the finished dissertation is publicly available on OpenCommons.

I periodically receive inquiries about the project from journalists or people working in Home Economics today. Some of my much-delayed FOIA requests also continue to come in the mail, all these years later.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I think there is a misconception that a fellowship year is a year “off.” My fellowship year allowed me to be even more intentional about my time management, particularly with regards to how I engaged with others in the UConn community. Instead of working alone, in an archive or in my home study, I had a much-needed chance to connect with other scholars.

Overall, my fellowship year at UCHI was essential to my project. I was able to finish along the timeline I had set out for myself and to take care with my final writing and editing stages. While I was at the Institute, I appreciated how the group of fellows was managed. The general approach was non-hierarchical, but not so casual as to be counter-productive. It is hard to find that kind of environment when working as a graduate student.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

Before I was a fellow and during my fellowship year, I spent many hours in a chair against one of the walls or bookcases in the UCHI conference room. I loved learning from the visiting fellows and seeing new and compelling work presented to a group of peers. I don't know that it was my favorite moment, per se, but I do have a vivid memory of one of these talks. It was from a presentation on logic, given by a philosopher. I did not fully understand all of it, nor did I need to in order to appreciate what was happening in front of me. People were striving to understand, together, and that is an important and rare thing. On my way home that night, I remember realizing that I would never think about doubt in the same way, again. What a gift that speaker gave to me—to all of us.

What are you working on now (or next)?

I am a public historian and I work for the National Park Service. I am currently a Park Ranger at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in Pawtucket, RI. I will be working with a team of colleagues on new exhibits and public programs at Slater Mill, a property very recently acquired by NPS.

I am also the co-host of the podcast American Girls, which draws upon my background as a historian of gender and domesticity.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

I work at the intersection of historical research and interpretation. I talk to people of all ages and backgrounds about complex concepts such as capitalism and exploitation while also providing a basic orientation to the site where I am employed. Why did I choose to do this line of work given my background as a historian? I have become a public historian in part because being in a classroom did not entirely suit me. I wanted to be immersed with other people in a landscape and to work with them to understand it better. To really do this requires that one actually believe in shared wisdom, and be committed to collective, experiential learning. It also means being out in the world in a way that is necessarily different from serving and educating in a classroom environment. I bring a lot of knowledge to my job, and so do the people who come to my place of work. Sometimes I am convinced that the challenge is not so much learning any one thing in particular but simply acknowledging that we can all teach one another. How do we do this without losing all grip on concepts of authority, and expertise, especially during a crisis? My hope is that we build a better sense of mutual respect between all people, or knowledge alone will not be worth very much.

20 Years of Fellows: Anke Finger

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Headshot of Anke Finger2006–2007 faculty fellow Anke Finger is professor of German, Media Studies, and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies in the department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at UConn. A co-founder and co-editor (2005–2015) of the multilingual, peer reviewed, open access journal Flusser Studies, Anke Finger’s closely related scholarship in media studies originates from her work on the Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser. She co-authored the 2011 Introduction to Vilém Flusser, and she is a member of the Flusser project team at Greenhouse Studios. She edited Flusser’s The Freedom of the Migrant and co-edited the collection KulturConfusão: On German-Brazilian Interculturalities (2015). From 2016 to 2019 Anke Finger served as the inaugural director of the Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative at the Humanities Institute; she also co-founded the CTDH network. Together with Christoph Ernst (University of Bonn), she organized a symposium on “Radical Futures” in March 20–21, 2021. All presentations are available on youtube.


What was your fellowship project about?

Initially, my fellowship project was to be a book about my own family, a case study of former East Germany from an everyday perspective that included education, family dynamics, and politics, focused on my father’s escape via the Baltic Sea in 1974. Turns out that family dynamics were ongoing. It was difficult gathering data and materials, and it became this rather endless tunnel of new discoveries that required constant re-evaluation. To not lose sight of my time at the UCHI, I worked on two other books, The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork (The Johns Hopkins University Press) and the co-authored introduction to Vilém Flusser (University of Minnesota Press) that came out at the same time. The first is a collection of essays about the idea of intersecting art disciplines within modernism and moving well into contemporary art; the second is the first guide to the multilingual, multidisciplinary work of the communication philosopher Vilém Flusser (1920–1991) that has generated a great many studies on his international oeuvre.

Would you give us an update on the project?

The research about my family, including interviews and archival work, is only now finished so that I can write Memoryland during my sabbatical. Frankly, the timing, 60 years after the building of the Berlin Wall, 30 years after reunification, is better today for a number of reasons. The other books have been followed by another Flusser project that is just coming out with the University of Minnesota Press, What If? Twenty-Two Scenarios in Search of Images (2022), and I continue to publish on the idea of the total artwork—I guess the topic just keeps holding my passions and interest.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

It was the very first occasion I ever had this much time to dedicate to my work. At first, I was a bit paralyzed, I suppose: what to do? A plethora of options. But once I realized I was not able to produce what I had planned I fell into a rhythm and went with the flow. The year certainly shaped my scholarship in that I learned to take a phenomenological approach to my projects and have worked like that ever since: always have several projects in different stages of production since they all need their own time, perspective, and attention.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

One of the delights of being an early UCHI fellow was the relatively tight quarters in Austin that just made you hang out quite a bit. I remember conversations standing in door frames with my fellow fellows, Michael Lynch and Mark Overmeyer-Velasquez or Robin Greeley, just shooting the breeze and enjoying a cup of coffee we brewed at the end of the hallway. It was intimate and relaxed at the same time.

What are you working on now (or next)?

I am currently promoting or publishing four books, the aforementioned What If? by Vilém Flusser (I introduced, edited and translated the work); a just-out collection on The Digital Dissertation: Knowledge Production in the Arts and Humanities (Open Book Publishers, 2021), with Virginia Kuhn; a collection on Women in German Expressionism: Gender, Sexuality, Activism (University of Michigan Press, 2022), with Julie Shoults; and a collection on Bias, Belief, and Conviction in an Age of Fake Facts (Routledge, 2022), with Manuela Wagner, that is still part of the “Humility and Conviction in Public Life” initiative. I want to focus next on Memoryland, finally, and a monograph on German Expressionism and Colonialism.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

Interesting question! UCHI just supported a symposium I organized with a colleague from the University of Bonn that was focused around Flusser’s What If? with the title “Radical Futures: Imagining the Media of Tomorrow.” To me, the future of knowledge has a lot to do with media and mediation, a vantage point that holds both challenges and promises. Who will create, hold, disseminate and dialogue about knowledge? Which media will create pathways and bridges, which mediation structures will withhold and divide knowledge pools? Today, if you create knowledge without communicating with a variety of audiences it will remain silenced. The biggest challenge is the definition of knowledge, I think, given that humans can know in numerous ways; the biggest promise is acknowledging the continuous balancing act between bias, fake facts, and knowledge diversity. Media has a lot to do with this. . .

Tell us a little about your experience as inaugural director of the DHMS initiative at UCHI.

The Humanities Institute, and especially Michael P. Lynch, awarded me the rare opportunity to develop two deep interests of mine, digital scholarship and humanities outreach and advocacy. I was able to build, structure, and inaugurate the new Digital Humanities and Media Studies Initiative, merging two fields that still have some difficulty talking to each other. My colleague Yohei Igarashi is now continuing the programming, for graduate students and interested faculty who are pursuing research methods with qualitative and quantitative computing.

20 Years of Fellows: V. Penelope Pelizzon

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

V. Penelope Pelizzon headshot2004–2005 faculty fellow V. Penelope Pelizzon’s last poetry collection, Whose Flesh Is Flame, Whose Bone Is Time, was published in 2014 (Waywiser Press). Pelizzon’s awards include a 2020 Quarterly West editor’s choice award for her chapbook Of Vinegar Of Pearl, a 2019 Hawthornden Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, and the Center for Book Arts chapbook award for her collection Human Field. New poems from her next book appear or are forthcoming in Tin House online, Ecotone, 32 Poems, The Bennington Review, The Gettysburg Review, The New England Review, The Harvard Review, Plume, and Orion.


What was your fellowship project about?

My fellowship project in 2004–5 was a long poem in segments, “The Monongahela Book of Hours,” which developed into a central section of my third book. I believe that this was the first creative writing project to be supported by the still-young UCHI, so it was exciting to represent the poetry end of the humanities among my scholarly peers.

Would you give us an update on the project?

“The Monongahela Book of Hours” appeared in my book Whose Flesh Is Flame Whose Bone Is Time (Waywiser, 2014), which was a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Before appearing in the book, the long poem was published in the American literary journal At Length.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

The time to slow down and feel and think, allowing new poems to evolve, was crucial to the book’s development. The interactive elements of the fellowship year were sustaining, too—it’s always invigorating to feel part of a thinking community! But perhaps most importantly for a poet, the year allowed me the hours of psychic and emotional privacy my real creative work feeds on. It’s unusual to find that sweet spot, that right measure of community with enough productive solitude for new work to emerge in all its tender / brash / ugly / coltish / uncanny ways.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

I remember a lot of snowy mornings and late afternoons with the blue light slanting though my UCHI window on the upper floor of the Austin Building, and the nice smells of coffee being brewed by fellows down in the common area...the perfect sensory image of privacy within community.

What are you working on now (or next)?

This spring Quarterly West published my long poem Of Vinegar Of Pearl as the editor’s choice in their annual chapbook series, and I’ve just finished revising another full-length book of poems, Animals & Instruments. Various poems from that collection have come out in print in journals this year. Meanwhile, I have three new poems just started in July that might be disasters or might be the kernel of the next thing—too early yet to tell.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

I could say poetry’s best knowledge—and that of the humanities at large—is embodied in discomfort. It’s the knowledge that we don’t yet have language for our full reality, and that, as our realities change, we need more expansive and penetrating language. I could say that it’s hard to empathize with what others are experiencing when we don’t even have rich imaginative language for some of our own most trivial experiences. And by “trivial”—well, here I mean experiences that have been overlooked or scorned by the Adults In Charge. So, one exciting thing is that a lot of long-overlooked stories are now being written. But it also feels a bit disingenuous of me, wearing my poet hat, to speak about “knowledge.” When I’m writing well, what I’m trying to shed are assumptions of authority or the idea that I have anything, even my native language, already figured out.

20 Years of Fellows: Paul Bloomfield

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we've checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next. Read them all here.

Paul Bloomfield headshotPaul Bloomfield was a 2007–2008 UCHI faculty fellow and is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Moral Reality (2001) and The Virtues of Happiness (2014), the editor of Morality and Self-Interest (2008) and the co-editor of Oxford Handbook for Moral Realism (forthcoming), all on Oxford University Press.


What was your fellowship project about?

I work in moral philosophy, broadly construed, and the subject of my UCHI project was the relation of being morally good to living well and being happy. This is, perhaps, the single guiding question of moral philosophy. I argue that all forms of immorality are inherently self-disrespecting, and that self-disrespect and happiness are mutually exclusive. So, the stripped-down argument goes like this:

  1. Morality is necessary for self-respect
  2. Self-respect is necessary for happiness
  3. Therefore, morality is necessary for happiness

What is it to be morally good? I answer this in terms of “the cardinal virtues”: courage, justice, temperance, and wisdom. I defend the view that becoming virtuous gives us everything we need to be as happy as is possible for us, given who we are and the circumstances into which we are born.

Would you give us an update on the project?

The project yielded a number of papers but, as a whole, was published as a monograph in 2014 entitled The Virtues of Happiness: A Theory of the Good Life by Oxford University Press. It has been reviewed in numerous journals and was the subject of an “Author Meets Critics” session at the 2016 American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division Meeting.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?

I think what was most useful for me was the way that interacting with my fellow UCHI fellows forced me out of simply speaking to other philosophers and made me develop my views and arguments in ways that are more easily comprehensible to non-specialists. So, the book ended up having less jargon and a slower pace than it would otherwise have had.

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?

I have always tried to keep my writing gender neutral and to avoid gendered pronouns. This is easier in philosophy than one might think, if one sticks to plural subjects (“they” or “people”), and impersonal singular pronouns when needed (“one”). When I presented my work to my fellow fellows, I was very pleased when two of them, Sharon Harris (who subsequently became the second director of UCHI) and Brenda Murphy—both of whom are Professors of English—noticed what I was up to and complimented me on my approach and my writing.

What are you working on now (or next)?

I have two major projects going right now. The first is that I am co-editing with Professor David Copp (UC Davis) The Oxford Handbook of Moral Realism. This will be a start of the art collection of views surrounding the idea that there are metaphysical facts about morality—facts about what is good and bad and right and wrong—and that morality is neither to be “eliminated” or “reduced” to emotions or attitudes or some other non-factual basis.

The other project is a monograph focusing on the cardinal virtues, which I mentioned above.

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge?

I think there are deep and important moral, social, and political implications to how “knowledge” is understood in the future. As we know, currently information and knowledge is being swamped by misinformation and conspiracy theories and, it now seems, the old idea that in the “marketplace of ideas, truth will win out” has been called into question. Unfortunately, I do not think the most promising ideas are terribly exciting. I think the solution begins with a patient search for common dialectical ground with those with whom we disagree, at least those who are open to reason. Then we will need humility to be open-minded with them and we’ll have to be mature enough to compromise in the name of peace and democratic prosperity. The frightening part is how to handle those who will not listen to reason, and there, I’m afraid, I’ve nothing close to a helpful solution: currently, I see no way to reason with people who are unreasonable.

20 Years of Fellows: Alea Henle

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we’ve checked in with former fellows to gather reflections on their fellowship years, to get an update on their fellowship projects, and to see what they are working on next.

Alea Henle headshotAlea Henle was a 2011–12 dissertation research scholar. A librarian and historian, she is now is Head of Access & Borrow at Miami University. She has a Masters in Library Science from Simmons College and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Connecticut. Over the past years, she’s worked in libraries from Washington, D.C. to Colorado to New Mexico and taught classes in history, librarianship, archives, and records management. Her research interests center on how decisions in libraries, archives, research centers, and commercial database providers increasingly shape the resources available–making materials paradoxically both easier and more difficult to locate.


What was your fellowship project about?
My fellowship project was my dissertation—on historical societies and historical cultures in the early United States and the ways efforts to collect and preserve materials for the writing of American history shape moden practices.

Would you give us an update on the project?
To my very great delight, the book based on the dissertation came out last year! Rescued from Oblivion: Historical Cultures in the Early United States is available from the University of Massachusetts Press, as part of the Public History in Historical Perspective series.

How did your fellowship year shape your project, or shape your scholarship in general?
The fellowship gave me time and space to think through how to organize the immense wealth of research I’d already accumulated—and the additional material that I kept coming across. I also appreciate the interactions with other fellows and their comments and suggestions—and, of course, the opportunity to learn about the wonderful projects they were working on!

Would you share a favorite memory from your time as a UCHI fellow?
I think it was at our original go-around where we discussed our research projects (or perhaps it was when a particular scholar presented) but one of the key phrases that remains with me came from another fellow’s project: a worm in a box is never just a worm in a box.

What are you working on now (or next)?
Oh, I’m working on multiple fronts at the moment. As a historian, I’ve slid into the early 20th century and am currently exploring early postcards—specifically batches of postcards that were sent to one person or individual (where possible, from the same person). I blog about this at aleahenle.com about once a week. Then I’m also working on library scholarship (since I have a Ph.D. in history but my day-to-day job is as a librarian), with a current project focusing on valuations of library collections for insurance purposes. And in my personal time (not spare time—that’s something I don’t really have) I’ve started writing (and indie publishing) contemporary and historical fantasy. Whew!

Our theme for UCHI’s 20th anniversary year is “The Future of Knowledge.” What would you say are some of the challenges facing the future of knowledge? And what do you think is most exciting or promising about the future of knowledge? The challenges facing the future of knowledge?
Here I’m going to put on both my historian and librarian hats—these include the pervasive multiplicity of information and the fragility of many of the ever-increasing formats. Ironically, paper is much more robust a medium for historical purposes than many digital formats as the latter often require specialized software and/or technology. My original research as a fellow, after all, was about early efforts to deal with preserving information/knowledge! Then there are also the witting and unwitting discussions about sources of knowledge versus sources of information—who’s an expert and/or trustworthy and who isn’t (and what criteria is used to decide). It’s all very new—and very old.