News

UConn Humanities Institute Awarded Mellon Grant to Expand the Faculty of Color Working Group

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of $750,000 to the University of Connecticut for the Humanities Institute to expand the New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG). The thirteen member institutions of the Consortium support programming in humanities fields such as history, politics, language, art, literature, and philosophy.

Following a 2018 Mellon Foundation $100,000 grant that permitted a pilot phase, faculty of color at NEHC member institutions created and led the Faculty of Color Working Group (FOCWG) for the purpose of increasing mentorship, community building, and dedicated time for scholarly production among faculty of color. Coupled with the development of the NEHC’s social media and publicity, through cross-institutional networks, research and teaching mentorship, and fellowships, the Mellon Foundation grant enables FOCWG to bolster faculty success across schools in the region and the nation.

The Principal investigator for the program is Michael P. Lynch, director of the UConn Humanities Institute, director of NEHC and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Philosophy. Co-principal investigators are Melina Pappademos, director of the UConn Africana Studies Institute, associate professor of history, and director of the Faculty of Color Working Group; and Alexis L. Boylan, director of academic affairs of the UConn Humanities Institute and associate professor of art and art history and Africana Studies.

“With generous support from the Mellon Foundation, this initiative recognizes the environmental obstacles and, at times, outright hostilities to professional advancement that faculty of color face at predominantly white institutions. FOCWG seeks to address these institutional failures by enabling scholarly productivity and professional relationships, even self-care, as safe-guards for aggregated individual success,” says Pappademos. “The FOCWG challenges institutions to dismantle rather than uphold their inflexible structures designed and defended to advantage some faculty members over others.“

In addition to UConn, the consortium includes Amherst College, Colby College, Dartmouth College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, University of Vermont, Wellesley College, and Wheaton College.

The FOCWG provides an urgently needed pathway for faculty of color to navigate the particular challenges they face in academic life. As part of a large network of institutions, the FOCWG grant will develop collaborative fellowship and mentoring opportunities to produce outcomes unachievable by any single institution.

The core activities made possible by the grant include:

  • Organizing an annual conference for faculty of color that will be the centerpiece of activities and outreach, which will include crucial professional dialogues on panel topics such as publishing, tenure and promotion and the challenge of transitioning into administrative roles. The conference will include pre-conference and post-conference interviews and surveys.
  • Development of a mentorship program to identify and train senior faculty mentors throughout the New England Humanities Consortium to offer a resource for faculty of color at all stages of their careers, including those holding administrative positions, in the region.
  • Establishment of The Mellon Faculty of Color Fellowship program, that will create opportunities for faculty to spend a year as a research fellow at another Consortium institution’s humanities institute or center contributing to crosspollination across the Consortium while furthering faculty’s individual research.

There will also be increased support for NEHC administrative functions including a separate FOCWG website, expanded social media presence and creation of an Instagram account to attract younger generation students and scholars, particularly those who attend liberal arts institutions.

UConn’s First Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship Awarded

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), in partnership with UConn Global Affairs, is proud to announce Professor Maoz Azaryahu as the first awardee of their joint Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship (GDHF). Azaryahu is a professor of cultural geography at the University of Haifa in Israel, and the Director of Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism. His research includes urban and landscape semiotics, the cultural and historical geographies of public memory and commemoration, the spatialities of memory and narrative, and the cultural history of places and landscapes. He has studied the political history of war memorials and the cultural politics of commemorative street (re)naming in different historical periods and geopolitical settings.  These themes are highlighted of his numerous authored, co-authored, and edited works including, among others, Positioning Memory (2018), The Political Life of Urban Streetscapes (2018), Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative: Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet (2016); Namesakes: History and Politics of Street Naming in Israel (2012, Hebrew); Tel Aviv: The First Century. Vision, Myth and Reality (2012); Tel Aviv: Mythology of a City (2006); State Cults. Celebrating Independence and Commemorating the Fallen in Israel 1948-1956 (1995, Hebrew), and Von Wilhelmplatz zu Thälmannplatz. Politische Symbole im Oeffentlichen Leben der DDR 1945-1985 (1991). 

 

Maoz Azaryahu

 

Dr. Azarhayu has built his career on a remarkable ability to speak across disciplinary boundaries to build productive collaborations with scholars across a wide range of fields. This is one reason Dr. Azaryahu has been welcomed previously as a Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University, in Jewish Studies at Penn State University, and in Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We see his visit as a way to spur a similar range of fruitful publishing collaborations with our colleagues here at UConn. 

Azaryahu’s fellowship at UConn, which takes place in Spring 2021, is sponsored by Ken Foote, the Director of Urban and Community Studies Program & Professor of Geography; Nathaniel Trumbull, Associate Professor of Geography & Maritime Studies; Sebastian Wogenstein and Avinoam Patt of The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; and Chris Vials, Director of the American Studies Program.

GDHF was a new opportunity created by UCHI and Global Affairs last year in an effort to foster international collaboration and highlight the importance of the humanities in creating a future that speaks globally to social justice, equity, and the environment. This initiative is designed to strengthen ties with UConn’s international partners by inviting faculty scholars from universities that have ongoing Memoranda of Understanding with UConn.

Three UConn Faculty Awarded NEHC Seed Grants

Three UConn faculty members are among 30 scholars from across 11 New England institutions who were awarded seed grants by the New England Humanities Consortium. These competitive seed grants are awarded for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium.

Jason Oliver Chang (Department of History and Asian & Asian American Studies Institute) and Fiona Vernal (Department of History and Africana Studies Institute) serve as co-Principle Investigators on a project entitled Shade: Labor Diasporas, Tobacco, Mobility, and the Urban Nexus. This project, which will be conducted in collaboration with former UCHI fellow Jorell Meléndez-Badillo (Dartmouth College) and Sony Coranez Bolton (Amherst College), will investigate. the ways that U.S. imperialism, colonization, corporate industry, and white settler normativity have evolved and matured in the Connecticut River Valley.

The other UConn awardee is Kevin McBride of the UConn Department of Anthropology. He is a co-Principle Investigator on a project entitled Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of the Native and African American Presence on Block Island. Other co-investigators and collaborators on this project include Amelia Moore, Jessica M. Frazier, and Kendall Moore (University of Rhode Island). This project will support fieldwork and planning that will lead to the development of a temporary, traveling exhibition, opening in July 2022. After its initial display at a number of regional museums, the exhibit will eventually find a permanent residence at the Gobern family homestead on Block Island, the future site of a Manissean community center.

Announcing the 2020–21 Visiting Humanities Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is thrilled to announce the incoming class of visiting humanities fellows: Erica Holdberg from Utah State University, David Samuels from New York University, and Amy Meyers from the Yale Center for British Art. Amy Meyers. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date

Erica Holberg's headshot

Erica Holberg

 

Philosophy - Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, Utah State University

Project Title: The Pleasures of Anger: Insights from Aristotle and Kant on Getting Mad, Staying Mad, and Doing This With Others

David Samuel's Photo

David Samuels

 

Anthropology - Department of Music, New York University

Project Title: Early Folk World: Music, Industrial Modernity, and the Anguish of Community in the 20th Century

Amy Meyers - Future of Truth Fellow

 

Art History - former director of the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University

Project Title: William Bartram and the Origins of American Environmental Thought

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialectic and the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom, and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journey’s fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

Announcing the 2020–21 Graduate Dissertation Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of Graduate Dissertation Fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of two PhD candidates from the history department (including the Draper Dissertation Fellow), and two PhD candidates from the English Department. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

Nicole Breault

 

History Department - Draper Dissertation Fellow

Project Title: The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America

Kerry Carnahan

 

English Department

Project Title: Song of Songs: a New Translation with Commentary

Ashley Gangi

 

English Department

Project Title: May I Present Myself? Masks, Masquerades, and the Drama of Identity in Nineteenth Century American Literature

Shaine Scarminach

 

History Department

Project Title: Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans

 

Announcing the 2020–21 UConn Faculty Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of UConn faculty fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of seven faculty who embody the creative drive and energy of the arts and humanities scholarship at the University of Connecticut. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

 

 

Elizabeth Athens sitting against a background of flowers

Elizabeth Athens

 

Department of Art & Art History

Project Title: Figuring a World: William Bartram’s Natural History

Amanda Crawford headshot

Amanda Crawford

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Sky is Crying: the Sandy Hook Shooting and the Battle for Truth

Melanie Newport headshot

Melanie Newport

 

Department of History

Project Title: This is My Jail:  Reform and Mass Incarceration in Chicago and Cook County

Helen Rozwadowski headshot

Helen Rozwadowski

 

Department of History - Avery Point

Project Title: Science as Frontier: History Hidden in Plain Sight

Sara Silverstein headshot

Sara Silverstein

 

Department of History & Human Rights Institute

Project Title: Toward Global Health: A History of International Collaboration

Scott Wallace headshot

Scott Wallace

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Bleeding Frontier: Indigenous Warriors in the Battle for the Amazon and Planet Earth

Sarah Winter headshot

Sarah Winter

 

Department of English

Project Title: The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Empire, and Human Rights Narratives

Jeffrey Peterson on the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis & Niche Construction

Niche Construction: Biosemiotics and Recursivity in Evolution

By Jeffrey Peterson

 

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) has well-known antecedents in evolutionary biology. For instance, in the mid-20th Century Conrad Waddington anticipated the salience of developmental bias and epigenetic inheritance as evolutionary processes in the EES. Aspects of niche construction theory, another core process within the EES, was articulated decades ago by Richard Lewontin. However, the theoretical contributions of anthropologists regarding niche construction are lesser known. Gregory Bateson and Kinji Imanishi make particularly salient corrections to neo-Darwinian natural selection that are now foundational within the EES, such as the mutual mutability of organism-environment relations and the concomitant implications for selection within such dynamic ecological systems. Here, I further explore the potential contribution of Philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic theory toward elucidating the mechanisms of information flow in John Odling-Smee and colleagues’ formalized conception of niche construction. Drawing on the work of these theorists, I connect them with the underlying process of reciprocal causation in niche construction, which envisions co-responding proximate and ultimate evolutionary patterns. I argue that recognizing these integrated processes as biosemiotically recursive patterns will strengthen the conceptual and explanatory value of niche construction.

Monday, March 30 2020, at 2:30PM; UCHI Conference Room, Babbidge Library, Fourth Floor.

Co-Sponsored by UConn Anthropology Department; Philosophy Department; Expression, Communication, and the Origins of Meaning (ECOM) Research Group; and James Barnett Endowment for Humanistic Anthropology.

 

Peterson HeadshotJeffrey Peterson
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Jeffrey Peterson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Anthropology Department at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on the wide-ranging manifestations of long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) social behavior in anthropogenic landscapes. He is interested in how social interactions facilitate and maintain relationships among the macaques, as well as between macaques and humans. His research has been supported by the National Geographic Society and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

UCHI Co-Sponsors Nineteenth Annual Medieval Studies Conference

The nineteenth annual Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies will be held in Storrs and Hartford, Connecticut, on March 1921, 2020. Plenary lectures for this conference, which is co-sponsored by the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), will be delivered by Dr. M. Breann Leake of UConn English Department and Dr. Thomas E. A. Dale, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

 

The Plenary Lectures

Dr. Leake’s lecture is entitled “‘Nevertheless, You Must Sing’: The Coercion of the Archive.” It will be delivered on Thursday, March 19 at 3PM in the Konover Auditorium in Storrs, CT.

Dr. Dale’s lecture, entitled “Race-Making in Medieval Venice: Representing Saracens and Jews in the Basilica of San Marco, ca. 1215-1280” is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at 2:30PM in the Hartford Times Building, Room 146.

 

 

Other sponsor of this conference include: UConn Medieval Studies Program, Medieval Academy of America, English, Department Speakers and Symposia Committee, Department of English, Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Center for Judaic Studies, Department of, History, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Department of Philosophy, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

For more details and to register, please visit the conference website.